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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to scent tennis balls with cadaver odor by storing them in my ammo box which houses the scent material but the balls themselves have a quite strong "tennis ball odor" which I am scared will permeate my source material and change its scent picture.

Is there a way to get the tennis ball smell out of tennis balls?
 

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Do you have enough scent material to store a bit of it in a separate box with the tennis ball?
I would also think you could put the tennis ball in the sun for a week or so to age it, but I'd still keep it in separate box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's a great idea! First I will leave the balls in my car for a week then use one of my blood soaked gauze pads to stink up in its own box. I imagine with a bit of rehydration and put that thing it the garage it will get them plenty stinky.
 

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Make sure it's sun dried really well. I put a piece of wood in one of my boxes for the same reason. I wound up tossing it all because of some unseen mold on the wood. :roll:
Looked like a giant fuzzball when I opened it about a month later. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The dreaded white mold

Seems some people train with stuff that has it saying it is "natural" but dead things are not normally stored in an airtight container where moisture can run rampant......moisture yes, lack of air, no.

The advice I was given was to remove items from my PVC scent tubes, make sure it was dry before storage and after each and every use, wash and bleach the tubes.
 

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Nancy – for what this is worth, and I must say that this is not my field of expertise either SR – however, sent is sent, and the Filipino army used pig meat, to get the dogs to react to buried meat sent. Check the “Tsunami dog sites”, I don’t have the link anymore.

Tennis balls never loose their odor – even the dry ball just cut it, and Walla the sent is fresh and back – we do not use them for either bomb or nark dogs, because of that.
 

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We do use tennis balls for reward on some dogs. I'm a believer the dog picks the reward, not the handler. However, we don't scent any of the articles we use for rewarding the dog.

DFrost
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
OK, the advice I have from two LE, both of whom train bomb and narc dogs, was occassional motivational play with scented toys.

We don't really *seem* to need it, as I actually have more of a problem with the dog wanting to keep searching after a training session (as opposed to being bored or shutting down), but that throwing and retrieving and having them hunt for the scent associated with the toy is a good motivator. I do know a good many people do this.......

In addition to routine problems. I can do that with PVC pipes, but I kind of don't like the dog picking up the pipes as we often use them for hides.

I don't only hide in PVC or ABS - sometimes in other plastics, or glass mason jars with holes in the lids, or cages but never with direct access to the source because it seems dogs are not the *only* critters attracted to the cadaver scent and I don't want the critters to carry it off.., plus we don't want it in contact with surfaces people may touch .plus you really can't just tuck cadaver material in the open ... but of course we lay blanks out with out the scent in them the dogs are not reinforced for alerting on.

I would appreciate insights on this approach.
 

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Nancy - what's your reason for scenting the tennis balls? Is it to build drive or motivation? How does your dog do with just searching for the ball when you're playing fetch and the ball is thrown into tall grass? If there are problems with that, then I would look into methods to bring up the dog's drive for its toy/play.

For USAR training, we use a variation of the Bernhard Flinks building drive focus and grip method for drive or motivation-related issues. Works pretty well for us.

Personally, I think you shouldn't need to add cadaver scent the tennis balls. In my opinion, you're adding an unnecessary step or procedure by scenting them.

Of course, that being said, there are many different ways to train a detection dog and the above statements are just my opinion based on my personal experience.
 

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We used the scented tennis balls for imprinting new puppys/dogs. Have them retrieve a scented ball numerous times with a command, then bring them to an area where the target scent is hidded and give the command. Most of the dogs go right to the scent. Then the tennis ball is given at the source.
Simple explination but it has worked well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Konnie Hein said:
Nancy - what's your reason for scenting the tennis balls? Is it to build drive or motivation? How does your dog do with just searching for the ball when you're playing fetch and the ball is thrown into tall grass? If there are problems with that, then I would look into methods to bring up the dog's drive for its toy/play. .
Bob explained it - though I used scented tubes instead of balls for the initial motivation. I think the rationale is it mixes things up as a short fun motivational...nothing more nothing less.

We have no drive and retrieve problems. The dog has a wrecklessly high drive and the world disappears when a ball is involved. (he took out part of my fence when the ball went over (ooops) and crawled 20 feet under my deck (18 inches to 6 inches off ground) to get to another ball that slid under-jumped off a dock..etc etc.. I don't even have to throw a ball - sometimes I prehide his ball (not scented) and just go outside and show him my empty hands......

So, not seeing any training issues - right now we are working on mixing up the problems by varying location of the scent and working search patterns. He is still pretty early in his training. Basically imprinting and alert training (which was easy as DanR already had that down and the dog offered the alert naturally)
 

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Konnie, after retrieving the scented ball, the hidden target scent is hidden without the ball. Once the dog shows a good understanding of the scent, the ball is then only give as a reward. Not much difference then hiding a reward with the scent for imprinting. If the scent is in a hard to get at spot (bottom of a brush pile, desk drawer, etc) a high drive dog will try and get to it. That's where teaching the indication comes in.
 

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I do same thing Bob does , prior to being introduced to containers for training the alert behavior: I would use reward item stored in ziplock bag for 24 hours open in front of dog and have him retreive from cover along with the search cue (introducing odor). Once we move to training alert on containers ( I also have same result Bob spoke of dog goes to odor)) I would not use scented reward item during this stage (would be held in place at container entry) and each trial gets replace with clean. That is why I have preference to Kong or Rubber Ball mainly do to durability and option of placing scent inside (during introduction of a given odor) and ease of cleaning (placing in hot water or dishwasher to remove dog slime). If the dog likes tennis ball I would work on converting him not a big deal if the dog is green and has correct drives. It doesnt realy matter what reward is used as long as you can controll the dogs behavior with it. I also make sure dog is properly extinction trained by presenting the reward item so close that he can touch but not access.(the same exact presentation as reward in scent container has). I basically train the dogs alert behavior on a single odor so we have established solid communcation such as a release and reward cue. I have seen well over 100 different Cadaver, Drug, Bomb dogs in training and trialing just since January, I would have to say the one thing that stands out is most problems are directly related to timming of reinforcement. Training timming is everything and thats why initial foundation work is so important for both dog and handler. (the reward or training method for that matter is secondary if timming is not good)

Dan Reiter
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My actual reward item is not scented but we clean out the scent containers every every use to remove residual odor left by the dog (if contact) and environment.

One thing we are doing with the reward is that we still give the release word but the ball may come from me, it may come from another handler so the dog does not cue on me for the ball (he never knows where it comes from) I am also supposed to practice moving my hands around, putting in ball pocket etc. and extinguishing any reponse to my body language.

Getting a pretty good throwing arm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oh in a sidways fashion I see the problem with tennis balls (wanted to avoid washing all those tubes which are not fun to throw since my right arm is bad...and I can sling a ball on a string or a tennis ball better)

Still have the residual scent left by the dog on the ball. Bad thing. Dog should not search for the core ball or for their own saliva.

Glad I did not "get there" but I do now have more reward items (they are squeaky tennis balls) easier to pocket than the cuz toy.


On a good note - during a training session Grim did jump up on a garbage can where never - scented play balls were sitting (it was, in retrospect, in the path of where scent would have gone) and ignored the balls and continued to find the target scent.......
 

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Nancy:
I misinterpreted your post from before...you said: "We don't really *seem* to need it, as I actually have more of a problem with the dog wanting to keep searching after a training session (as opposed to being bored or shutting down),

I thought you meant that you have problems keeping him motivated/searching, but after re-reading it I see you mean that he wants to keep searching. And I thought I was so good at reading comprehension! :D

Sounds like you have a very nice dog!

Bob:
Did you guys ever put unscented tennis balls out in the training search area as distractions to see if the dogs would alert on them? Or did you address this in another way? Since I've never used scented tennis balls, I'm just wondering if its harder, easier or just the same to proof them off the tennis balls (compared to other methods).

Dan:
I agree 100%. Its all in the timing!
 

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I never tried to proof the dogs off of their reward. We often proofed off of the many different containers (jelly jars, pvc tubes, salt shakers, etc) that we kept training materials in.
With the present dog I have, I used a kong on a rope (his preference) and I would often have it in total view of him when he did scratch box demos. I went so far as to put it on the floor next to an empty box to show he knew he had to make a "find" before he was allowed to get the reward. Great for demos. Don't know if it had any value as a training tecnique.
The training method I used on this particular dog was to have training material in a salt shake in oe hand and dog treats (hot dog) in the other. The dog was first rewarded for any glance at the salt shaker. That was slowly built to a down and bark at the scented salt shaker. Then it was a matter of moving the shaker to the floor, and then hiding it. He learned that the reward only came when he was stairing at the scented salt shaker and doing a down and bark. Nothing more then clicker training without the clicker.
I looked at other training scenarios as nothing more then large, further apart scented salt shakers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Really, I think they mostly are some form of operant conditioning.with shaping

..and very much...dog first is rewarded for noticing the source and has to offer progressively more sophisticated behaviors to earn the reward.
 

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QUOTE BOB: I never tried to proof the dogs off of their reward. END QUOTE

We always proof our USAR dogs off their reward (and animals, food, etc. etc. etc.). You just never know what's going to be in the rubble/buildings when it comes to a real-life disaster. We'll even hide their reward with other distractions such as food, clothing, etc. A lot of dogs show interest in their reward toy when we first do these proofing exercises. Some even go into a full-blown alert. There are a few ways to fix this - it just varies by personal preference and effectiveness of the foundation training. It only takes a few repetitions (sometimes even just one) in order to teach them to ignore it.

This way, we know without a doubt that our dogs are only alerting on live, human scent. In USAR training, this is critical since we probably won't make visual contact with the person they are alerting on. False alerts would be disastrous.

QUOTE BOB: "With the present dog I have, I used a kong on a rope (his preference) and I would often have it in total view of him when he did scratch box demos. " END QUOTE

Nice! Reminds me of this Alpha K9 video with tennis balls bouncing all over the dog while it was searching/alerting...
http://www.alphak9.com/gallery/Vidoe-Clips/TAPE_PROMO

QUOTE BOB: "I went so far as to put it on the floor next to an empty box to show he knew he had to make a "find" before he was allowed to get the reward. Great for demos. Don't know if it had any value as a training tecnique. " END QUOTE

This is a form of "proofing off the reward," right?
 
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