Friday, November 14, 2014

A new Elka-ism

Every once in awhile, the quirks of this dog just amuse me to no end. To some degree, I'm sure I'm "that" dog owner, you know, the one who thinks her dog is the only one ever to do such a thing. But, this is why I blog, so there (or dlog [portmanteau of dog + blog], as my fiancé would have me say). I have a new one to share.

We have a pretty simple routine while playing with tennis balls out back: I whip a tennis ball against the garage wall, Elka goes ballistic chasing it, sometimes catching it on the rebound (I try not to do this; I don't want a tennis ball to go down her throat and choke her, which is horrible to worry about but I read an article once about it happening to a police dog and that just rained on my life). We have a number of tennis balls, some in better repair than others (Elka also likes to chew them, obviously, which I don't really allow while we're doing retrieves).

(yeah, I cheated, and this is a summer picture. It snowed today, sue me)

So, I found a more intact tennis ball, because throwing a tennis ball with a hole in it and expecting it to bounce is kind of lame. It doesn't really bounce, it's very diminished. Elka brought back one of the "flat" tennis balls, and I threw the better tennis ball, which bounced further, faster than she'd expected. She found another flat tennis ball while looking for the one I threw, and didn't pick it up. She found another and again, didn't pick it up. Elka would not bring me the incorrect tennis ball, and searched around our leafy yard, little stub tick-tocking happily in the air as she searched for the tennis ball that had bounce left in it.

(did it again!)

I've always thought nosework wasn't a hobby that would work for us, because I've seen Elka not be able to find a piece of pepperoni she was literally standing on, but watching her search for a specific tennis ball (or having her wait at the door and then turning her loose to find tennis balls) makes me wonder if we could give nosework an indoor start over the winter (scent discernment and have her indicate the correct box, or whatever).


  1. Wow, that is very impressive! I would definitely suggest you try nosework. I bet Elka would amaze you.

    BTW, doing nosework games with Honey taught me the importance of air currents. If you start paying attention to the breezes (outdoors) or the heating vents (indoors), you start to understand why dogs miss a scent. It's literally blowing in a misleading direction.

    If you want to give it a try, I have some instruction sheets on the blog on how to start the process so your dog understands what you're asking from her.

  2. Oh, I almost forgot. I'm also really impressed that you referred to a portmanteau. So many people use them and don't know the word for them.

    Smarty pants. :)

  3. I would give it a try, it's great for you and the pup. I love that Easy is dogtired after his nosework :o)

  4. We just started with nosework training and we're having a blast! You don't have to take a formal class, especially if you have no desire to compete. Just hiding stuff and having the dog find it is fun. Jedi thinks this is the best. game. ever!

  5. Oh, I say YES!!! I thinks that would be fun Elka!!! I thinks you would be so good at it too! We Airedales are good at aire scent tracking (I do it to Ma all the time!). Ma says i would have made a good tracker if she would have started me earlier!
    Ruby ♥

  6. What a clever girl! I'm seriously impressed and think scent work would be great exercise for Elka over the winter months. I always thought portmanteau was a bag, lol. Learn something new every day :)

  7. You should definitely give it a try. It sounds like she has the natural talent for it. She probably just needs to learn how you want her to use her nose.

  8. Wow that's so smart! You made me laugh about the pepperoni; you'd expect Dahlia to have an especially powerful nose since she is deaf but she seems similarly clueless as far as using that nose sometimes. It sounds like it's pretty easy to try nosework at home, why not give it a try?

  9. That's a great job!! I do the nosework in the house, mostly on days when it's impossible to walk and they seem to enjoy it. My suggestion would be to use a small plate or something to put the treat on inside the box, that way one specific box does not develop the scent.