German Shepherd Training Tips

Scent Discrimination

Scent discrimination can be a useful skill for a dog owner to train to a dog. You should be aware that scent discrimination is considered as advanced training, which means not every dog will be able to learn the skill of scent discrimination.

When your dog has mastered all the obedience exercises you can expand its training into the interesting area of scent discrimination. The skill of scent discrimination is a area used for qualifying as a guard dog. The best way to do this type of training is to work with your dog on the training field of your local German shepherd dog club. If you want to work alone with your dog, you need a large yard or field.

Just before your dogs mealtime put your dog on the leash, pick up its dinner, and take it to the training field. Let it off the leash and give it a chance to turn around and relieve itself. Then, put it back on the leash, which you tie to a fence post or tree. Then you go away a few yards with the dog's food dish and mark the "head or the beginning of the trail" by stamping down the grass in an area of about 1 yard. Put down a couple of food morsels there. Of course, your dog is watching you closely all this time, perhaps even barking impatiently, something you should discourage instantly with an authoritative "No!"

Starting at the beginning of the trail, you walk away in a straight line while dragging your feet. Your trail should be clearly visible in the grass. Keep the food dish with you and drop a few hunks of food every few yards. Then hide the dish, in which some food must still be left, behind some uneven ground, a bush, or in a box you brought along. Now return to your dog not along the path you have just taken but by some roundabout way. Put it on a long leash and walk it, on your left, to the head/beginning of the trail. There it may eat the food morsels it finds. Now point with your right hand where the trail leaves and urge it on with words like "look, look-that's right." Make sure it follows the right track.

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The bits of food it finds along the way should spur it on, and as soon as it finds its food dish it is allowed to empty it. Don't forget to praise it!
When you have done this exercise every day for about a week, your dog should begin to understand the command "look." Increase the length of the trail gradually which will improve the dogs skill, and place new items along the trail that have your smell on them, for example a dog biscuit or a wallet.

When the dog reaches the wallet, tell it to "sit" or "lie down." It will sniff the wallet, perhaps pick it up, but will soon realize that it cannot get at the treat. Take the biscuit out, and give it to the dog. The purpose of putting food in the item along the trail is to make the dog stop and examine it rather than simply pass it by.

When your German shepherd correctly follows the trail you have to keep changing the course of it every day and make sure the dog stops at every item you leave along the trail. You can start leaving less and less hidden food, but you have to make up for this with verbal praise whenever the dog performs correctly. Start incorporating bends and loops into the trail.

Leaving clues at more irregular intervals will keep the dog interested.
The dog still has to pick up or point to the objects. In either case, it should stop in front of you in the "sit," "lie down," or "stay" position. If it has the object in its mouth, it must wait until you take the object from it; if it points, until you have picked the object up.

The video below shows scent training:

Scent training can be an effective tool and a wonderful skill for any dog to learn.

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