Nosework is so much fun. We all want to get our there and get playing, concentrating on our dogs. However, we need to pause to make sure we setting ourselves up for success by handling odor wisely. This topic can be pretty important to our long-term success. I will try to talk through this really fast so you can get back to training. However, please understand that this is pretty important.
Always handle oils and odor as cleanly as possible. Contaminate as little as possible. Store odor away from things that shouldn’t have odor. Store used containers away from unused containers, ALWAYS, even when transporting. The cleaner you handle, the more confident your dog will be, the more often you can use the space readily available to you, the more others can train in that same space behind you…
Time to talk about how to do all of that.
Affirmative Tips for Odor Handling:
1.) Use a tweezers to move the tips from the jar to the tin or straw.
2.) Wear disposable gloves when setting up tins and straws.
3.) Wear gloves when placing your hides.
4.) Use tweezers (or gravity!) and gloves when removing Q-tips from straws and tins.
5.) Frequently change the adhesive on your straws and tins. Store unused adhesive with cold stuff.
6.) Make sure tips are fully stuffed into straws and sleeves before placing them.
7.) Have a bin for storing hot containers.
8.) Store your odor kit in a lesser-used room of your home or garage.
9.) Always place tips in tins, sleeves, or some other vented container. They must never touch the environment.
10.) Count your hides. Write the number down. Pick up as many as you placed when you are done training!
11.) Consider wiping down previous hide placements with straight vinegar and allowing those spaces to air dry. This is done in AKC trials. Let your dogs get familiar with it.
12.) Remember: Any time you place a hide in a container, the container becomes hot for life.
Contaminated training areas slow dogs down and erode confidence. The last thing I want is a dog who is wondering if there is “enough” odor to alert on. I want my dogs to feel confident alerting on ANY sourceable odor. Leaving little dots of oil behind would force my dog and I to have to determine where there is ENOUGH odor to warrant an alert. This is bad territory. Clean training produces confident dogs. Trial environments are (or should be) clean environments. We are told to train like we trial and trial like we train, so clean handling is a must.
Extra considerations for hot containers:
I store my hot containers in a bin. In order to prevent them from getting too hot from sitting together, I practice clean handling when placing hides in the containers themselves and I frequently open them up and set them in the sun outside to allow them to air out. I will even wash my hot plastic containers in soapy dishwater and then let them dry. Still, “once hot” means ALWAYS hot, but at least they aren’t so obnoxious that I can smell them! When my hot container collection gets too large, I break down my excessive cardboard and recycle it. I will also recycle or toss excessive plastic.
When I purchase bags or luggage from a secondhand shop for training, I place the newly acquired bags in a search line that contains a known hot container. I then run all 3 of my dogs on the set up. If none of my dogs alert on the new bag(s) or shows undue interest, I declare it cold. If my dogs were to get hung up on the new bag, I would declare it hot and use it as hot only.
I know this stuff is mind-numbing, but it matters. It matters for your own dog and for any dog who uses a space after you.