Thursday, February 19, 2015

Intro to nosework: Fenzi Academy class vs Leerburg DVD

Having taken the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy's Introduction to Nosework class and watched Leerburg's The Foundation of Nosework DVD, I thought I'd compare these two different training options here on the blog. I find that taking online classes at bronze is a little more immersive than just watching a DVD because you get to read the interactions with other students but at bronze, I was still only an observer.  I think these two options compare fairly well.

Both instructors (Fenzi's Margaret Simek and Leerburg's Andrew Ramsey)  emphasize commitment to odor and pinpointing location of odor.  But I found Margaret's system a LOT easier to implement in my home.  Why?

Ramsey's training starts with a "training lab", basically a lot of chests with drawers, that will be the search area for all training.  Much of the beginning of the DVD focuses on getting dogs used to this environment, getting them comfortable being assertive and sticking their noses in drawers and such.  This is before any odor is added and seemed necessary only because he sets up this sort of artificial searching area.  I don't have this set-up and there were not any other options given.  Margaret uses boxes, not a permanent training lab situation.  This was much more easily moved from place to place, I found it way easier to fit training with boxes into my life than to set up a room or even part of a room with a permanent training set-up.

Ramsey's system requires multiple people to set up the training scenarios.  One holds the dog while the other riles them up and makes the hide.  One handles the dog's line while the other moves in with the reward at source.  I don't have another handler.  I only have me!  Margaret's training program assumes only one handler.

Ramsey also uses toy-motivated dogs in the majority of the DVD.  He does have sections that address food-motivated dogs and how to condition a dog to a food tube ("Classically Conditioning Food Delivery Device" as they put it) but for the most part, instruction is given for a dog that is over-the-moon about a ball on a rope.  The dog I am working is not.  In this regard, Margaret's system works better for me right now.  But if I was working a different dog, this would not have been such an issue.  I could just as easily criticize Margaret's approach for not including options for dogs that were not food motivated.

Minor point but parts of the DVD also seemed like a commercial for the Leerburg Nosework kits.  I got my scents separately and assembled my own kit for way less money.  I like that Fenzi Academy classes don't try to sell me things.

I did a complete review of  the Fenzi Academy Introduction to Nosework Class which you can read for even more info on it.  I am now taking Dot through the Fenzi Academy Introduction to NW Search Elements, which is the next in the series but is taught by Lucy Newton. 

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. Can't wait to hear about part 2. Are you going to compete in NW trials, or is this just for fun?

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    1. Hi Kelley! I've been following your nosework progression too. Once we start having more NW in our area, I might enter (I'm fairly competitive and it helps to have a goal of competition to keep me motivated) but right now they are few and far between. Plus, it's kind of expensive! How about you, do you plan to enter any time soon?

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  2. Thank you for this!
    I am taking my corgi Ein through the Intro to NW on FDSA and having a whole lot of fun doing it. I *love* how do-able it is for me in my own home.

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