Dog Obedience Training.

by Dennis Fisher.


This article is one of a great many articles written by Dennis Fisher about a very wide variety of subjects concerning different  dogs, such as obedience training, breeding, showing, health matters, training problems and other subjects.  All these articles appear on Dennis Fisher's websites.   Visit the site that has been set up specifically for German Shepherd Dog enthusiasts, or  if you interested in a breed   other than German Shepherd Dogs




 This is probably one of the most interesting  aspects of training.  

 It is very impressive indeed to see a well-trained dog actually “discriminate” between a large number of different articles, all having the identical appearance.

 In other words the dog has to make the right selection from a number of articles all the same in appearance, decide which is the correct article and bring it back to the handler.

In the less advanced tests the dog is required to discriminate between a number of identical articles, only one of which has the handlers scent. The rest of the articles  are all neutral and have no human scent at all.

The dog is required to smell all the articles and bring back the article that has the handler’s scent.  This is impressive enough.

But the more advanced  scent discrimination test is even more impressive.  The dog has to  discriminate  between a number of different pieces of cloth – all of which are identical in size and shape - select the one that has the scent of a complete stranger and bring it back to the handler.

You  can start teaching your dog the scent discrimination exercise as soon as he has been taught to retrieve a dumbbell.

If you are in a training class with others that are in the same stage of training as you are, all members of the class can put their own dumbbells together in a pile or in a row.  Give your dog the command fetch.  The dog will clearly recognize the scent of its own dumbbell, will find it easily and bring it back to you.

Your next step is to carry out the training process on your own.  Get  a  few pieces of wood of roughly the same size. Make sure  they do not have your scent on them. Don’t handle them.  Put them in a bottle. Take another piece of wood of the same size and shape and put it in your pocket. Handle it so that it has your scent.    Leave your dog on the “sit’stay”. Place the unscented articles in a  row.  Then throw the scented piece of wood among the unscented articles and give your dog the command “fetch”. 

 In all probability your dog will pick up the scented article and return it to you.  If by chance he picks up the wrong article, give a mild reprimand and then place the scented article closer to you so that with is more noticeable and accessible.

When the dog  brings back the correct article on a number of occasions you can proceed with the next step.  Instead of throwing the scented article leave the dog in the sit position and place next to the unscented articles.

Return to your dog and give him the command “fetch”.  Praise him enthusiastically when he brings back the correct article to you.

Continue for some time using pieces of wood,  until your dog selects the correct article each time.  Then you can start using articles made from other materials besides wood.   At a later stage of training you can introduce piece of cloth.

Continue using pieces of cloth for quite some  time until the dog beings back the correct piece of cloth with your scent  every time.

It is important not to be in a hurry rushing the training process.   Continue using articles with your own scent for quite some time. Only when the dog brings back the correct article – the one with your scent – every time, should you introduce a stranger’s scent.

Now it is time to introduce a stranger’s scent.

Get a few  of pieces of clean cloth- not too many at this stage, probably three or four - with no scent whatsoever,  Make sure that no one handles these pieces of cloth.  Place them in a bottle.

Get a pair of  tongs.  Use the  tongs to take  two pieces of unscented cloth and give them to a friend.  Ask your friend to handle both these two pieces of cloth for a long time so that there is a definite strong  scent on them. 

Take your dog to your  training  area where are no distractions.  Leave him at the Sit.  Take the bottle with unscented pieces of cloth.  Use your tongs to the pieces of cloth out of the bottle. Make sure that you do not handle these pieces of cloth and you do not get your own scent on them.   Leave  your dog at the Sit.  Place these unscented pieces of cloth, no more than three or four, in a row about six feet away from the dog.

Take  one of the scented  pieces of cloth with the scent of your friend from the bottle, with your pair of tongs. Make  sure  that you do not handle it.  Place this piece of scented cloth, with the scent of your friend,  in front of the unscented pieces of cloth. To make it a easier for your dog at this initial stage of training, place this scented cloth  in front of the unscented pieces of cloth.

 (At a later stage you can place it next to the unscented pieces of cloth)

Return to your dog.  Use your tongs to take the second piece of scented cloth from your friend.  Hold the scented piece of cloth in front  of the dog’s nose so that it has a good opportunity to smell this piece of cloth.  Then give the dog the command to fetch the article which has  the scent of your friend. 

It is quite amazing to find that the dog has the ability to remember the  sample scent that it has just smelled and is able to retain the memory of this scent when it goes out to retrieve the correct article.

Continue training in this way, making it increasingly difficult for the dog by placing a greater number of articles.  At a certain strange of training you will be required to have the scent of two strangers in the row of cloths.  One of the  articles is the correct one  – with the  same scent as the  “sample” scent you have given the dog to smell  – the other scent is a “decoy” scent.

A “decoy” scent is an article with the scent of another person.  It is not the article that the dog must fetch.  With training the dog will be able to discriminate and choose the correct scent – similar to the “sample” you have given.

It is important for your training to be a slow and gradual process. Try and make sure that your dog does not at any stage lose confidence. It is up to you to see that it does not happen.