The other day I decided to give Training Levels Four - Scenting a go. The concept is simple - smear something gooey on an article, put it down, have the dog lick it off, repeat.
Even I can't screw that one up, right?
I read somewhere that canning lid rings make great articles. They are cheap, easily cleaned, easily stored, identical, and the dogs can pick them up.
So I bought a box of 12, numbered a few of them, sat down on the floor with Beau, a clicker, and a small dish of peanut butter (old-fashioned, of course - nothing but the best for my boys, plus it is sufficiently gooey.)
I dipped a finger in the peanut butter (I now had Beau's undivided attention) and smeared a bit on the (very narrow) ring and put it down.
Beau was instantly on it like, well, like a dog on peanut butter. He chased that flimsy, lightweight ring all over the Hardwood kitchen floor trying to get every last speck with his big wet tongue.
I got up, retrieved the ring from under the cabinet, and repeated. Once again, Beau's big wet tongue was more than up to the task and soon the peanut butter smear was only a memory.
On the third try, I noticed two things. One, Beau's tongue was beginning to develop a very unappealing layer of spit mixed with peanut butter, and two, my Hardwood floor was also beginning to develop a similar spit-and-peanut-butter layer.
I pulled the ring out from under the kitchen table, smeared some more peanut butter on it, at let Beau have at it. At this point I noticed that Beau's big wet tongue wasn't really doing a such great job of getting the peanut butter out of the little grooves on the side of the ring, nor from the inside of the ring, and that definite smears of spit-laced peanut butter were starting to show on my Hardwood floor.
We gave it few more tries, things continued to get messier, and I quit.
In comes Zachary. Zachary also loves peanut butter. Zachary is a very fast worker. Zachary had that (truly disgusting by now) ring all over the kitchen floor.
Lucky me, he soon figured out it was much faster to bring me the ring after he finished than to wait for me to retrieve it. Alas, he is still very animated when he retrieves things and more than once he tossed it in the air, dropped it, and then chased the (rolling, sticky, wet, disgusting) ring wherever it might go.
Did you know a canning ring, if dropped and chased by an average-sized enthusiastic Golden Retriever, will roll a considerable distance across a Hardwood floor?
Yes it can.
So to sum things up: 1. Both dogs give this exercise two enthusiastic (sticky) paws up for entertainment value 2. Canning rings make lousy articles for training Golden Retrievers using peanut butter and 3. Mopping your Hardwood floor at 9pm is not a good way to end your birthday.
I don't suppose anyone else as any good ideas for cheap, easily cleaned, easily stored, identical, articles that dogs can pick up and can be smeared in peanut butter without making a horrible mess on the floor?