Dog trains man

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Kenzo is Back on Track: Nosework Camp part I

Kenzo and Viva happily united again
Yesterday Kenzo and me returned from nosework camp. After three days of scent feast, my head is still spinning with all the info and advice we brought with us home. But more important, Kenzo is back on track!

One of the main reasons we went on camp was because we made no more progress with tracking. Just recently, Kenzo missed his tracking exam as a result of that. And despite the advice we got from our trainers, we didn't improve.

When we started on camp, I made a whole list of things that needed some work. And when Vibeke Gyldenkærne, the tracking trainer, started out by asking what issues we encounter on the track I spilled out my wish list. Without blinking an eye - to what for me felt like overambitious and mission impossible for just 3 days - she simply replied: "Lets solve that than...".

Let me explain that Vibeke Gyldenkærne is one of the few - and maybe the only one - in Denmark that trains tracking solely based on positive reinforcement. And she has proved it works, as a multiple Danish Champion in tracking. In a world dominated - excusé le mot - by old school police K9 training, training with Vibeke is refreshing and inspiring.

I noted that for each solution she offered for our issues, her advice was many times contradicting what our regular trainers advised in the past. But she was always spot on. She quickly find out what Kenzo needed and got him tracking again in no time. I am so thrilled. At one point, when Kenzo had to find a track, I thought he followed a wrong track and stood still. But Kenzo insisted! He didn't let go and was determined to follow the track. Vibeke was very pleased to see that. For me, it was awesome.

But more about tracking soon. We also trained scent discrimination together with Charlotte Lyngholm - the organizer of the event as well. Like Vibeke, Charlotte has an impressive resume in dog training. In a country without certificates, Charlotte sets her own standards and studied behavioral psychology, is attending seminars and academy's in the US and Holland. In short, a lady with high standards.

We should chose an item we would like Kenzo to recognize by scent. Either an apple, a tea-blend, coffee, or something like money, we could make our pick. Kenzo already knows how to search for marihuana, so we chose the apple. I was looking forward to see if we could make it in only 3 days. Marihuana took us a lot longer. If we made it, and how to start on scent discrimination with your own dog, is going to be part of the next installment, hang around!


  1. Does this mean you're going to put Kenzo to work as a drug sniffing dog? Or do you just want him to find free weed so you and your friends can party? ;-)

    Sounds like you had a wonderful experience. Looking forward to hearing more details.

  2. Oh no never, that would make it impossible for me to get home and visit friends that life in Amsterdam :)

    With one of our training sessions about a month ago, we hid some in a hedge (actually little pieces of cloth that has been in contact with mariuana otherwise it is way too expensive) and went tracking so the scent could settle in. When we returned a car was parked close to the hedge and when I send Kenzo off he kept on going to the car. One of the guys opened the window asking if there was a problem and a very special aroma came out that even I could recognize ...

    On top of that Kenzo "arrested" him (maybe you remember we went on defense training when he was younger as well) by sitting down with the window and barking at the guy. LOL.

  3. That's hysterical. Hmmm. Maybe Kenzo does have a future in law enforcement. I would have loved to see the expression on that guy's face!

  4. Congrats Leo and Kenzo! It must be so exciting to know you are back on track! A dog camp like that sounds amazing. Wow.

    I had to laugh that you mentioned that Kenzo had already learned to track marijuana. If Daisy did that here it would either mean she was a Drug Enforcement Agency dog or I was in deep doo doo. :)

    How interesting that Vibeke Gyldenkærne is the only positive reinforcement tracking trainer in Denmark. Aren't you glad you found her and the camp? I wonder how Kenzo would do on the test now? :)

    BTW - Stopping by on the Pet Blogger Hop.

  5. Sounds like you found the right trainer for Kenzo!
    I look forward to reading more about this!

  6. @Mel
    It was an amazing experience. Best days of the year so far for sure.

    We have 3 months to prepare for the new exam, I am positive we gonna make it this time - alright, maybe I give Vibeke a call once in a while :)

    Thanks Jen, I made a video as well from of the sessions. I hope you will like it.

  7. Hi Y'all,

    Just hopped by and thought I'd follow your progress. Lots of us retrievers like trackin' stuff. Maybe my Human would like to have an alternate to do with me, besides retrieving exercises.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  8. I love reading what other breeds are doing to maintain their breed-skills. Sounds like Kenzo is "on track" with his training--loved the story about the marihuana! He sure knows his job.

  9. @Hawk
    There were a lot of retrievers with us on camp. Three Labrador's and one golden. Especially the Labrador's did very well !

    Hovawarts are great trackers. They are actually guarding dogs, but excell in nosework. Although it is something all breeds have in common. They love to use their nose.

  10. Hi there guys! Nice to meet you!

  11. great. glad to read that it was a good time. i didn't realize denmark doesn't do a lot in the way of positive training when it comes to tracking; that's really interesting.
    those two trainers sound like awesome people. if i did anything in the way of scent-work, i'd be jealous. unfortunately, koda kinda stinks at it ;]

  12. @Amber
    Nice to meet you too :)

    They absolutely were awesome. I still find myself writing down all the gold nuggets they passed on.
    Koda stinks at nosework ? Thats almost impossible for a dog :) Lets see after I have the whole series out. Trying to use Viva as a video fugurant, as she is the one with least nosework training. Hope you would give it a try. A lot of clicker work involved in scent discrimation and it is not like tracking. You are probably better in it than you think :)

  13. So if you & Kenzo visit me in Canada, I'll have to hide my marijuana stash really, really, really well :D

  14. @Karen
    Nowhere to hide. Trust me, I burried it. Moved it beneath a solid rock. To no avail, Kenzo will find it. On a good note, we won't smoke it :)

  15. I am so glad you had such a successful camp. It's great that your trainers have been able to break away from the normal standards to create their own methods. Positive methods that actually work and make such training fun. Because that really should be what it's ultimately about.

    I can't wait to hear more about what you learned. Tracking is something I know so little about but would love to get more into.

  16. @Kristine
    If you are interested, I have an "old" blog about how to get started in tracking:

    The only thing I do wrong in the video's, as the trainer told me during the camp, was placing the object at the end of the track. First learn just to go the track.

  17. Good work, Kenzo! Having him working on the scent of money might be a good idea - you guys could start tracking lost treasure. =)

  18. @Amy
    It is tempting isn't it? I feel a new project coming up :)


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