Natural scenting abilities

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JudyN
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Natural scenting abilities

Post by JudyN » Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:11 pm

A couple of times recently we've seen a friend's car parked when we've gone to the woods - Jasper's favourite treat fairy who also owns a lurcher. Jasper has sniffed at the car, his tail's started wagging, and he sticks his nose in the air sniffing, and sets off at a trot... but within a few yards he's wandering round aimlessly and may even sniff his way back to the car (possibly because he knows his mate has an enormous rawhide in the back).

Would a beagle, bloodhound, or bassett have found the friend without any training? Would Jasper have been able to find him if he was trained? What are the different contributions of (a) nose sensitivity (I've just read that beagles have more scent receptors in their nose), (b) natural instinct, and (c) training?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Nettle
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Re: Natural scenting abilities

Post by Nettle » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:07 am

Even the sightiest sighthound has plenty of scenting capability. But scent is volatile stuff, and easily affected by temperature, wind and humidity. That's why scenthounds hunt in packs - more noses for when scent is scanty or has been dispersed by time or weather. And even professional pack hounds can lose scent during a hunt, which is the art of the human help knowing when to assist and when to keep still and quiet and let hounds do the work.

In this particular situation, probably the man's scent - strongest on his car - had been dispersed as he went away. Then there is incentive - maybe it just wasn't that important compared to (say) a deer scent.

Researching police dogs in between the wars, I found cases where Dobermanns had followed foot scent in the Middle East that was several days old, and the criminals were apprehended. At that time, the Dobes were apparently better than Alsations or bloodhounds.

Regarding your last question: I find experience is the key. Natural ability is there without any training, and I have seen a lurcher pup, totally untrained, accurately follow a scent where a pack of hounds had lost it. We can't really train scenting because we can't scent it ourselves so we have to let the hound lead. We can only provide plenty of opportunity and practice. And of course we can breed for it. It would be interesting to test the scenting capabilities of show hounds vs working hounds.
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Shalista
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Re: Natural scenting abilities

Post by Shalista » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:28 am

Nettle wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:07 am
Then there is incentive
Inscentive? inSCENTive? i see what you did there....... :wink: :wink: :wink:
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

JudyN
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Re: Natural scenting abilities

Post by JudyN » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:25 am

Occasionally J will pick up the scent of a deer (at least I assume it's a deer) in one of the more remote parts of the woods. He doesn't (often) find the deer, and he's not as manoueverable amongst the trees as the deer, but he'll belt round back and forth like a ball in a pinball machine, I'm guessing when he can still smell it but hasn't a clue which direction it went. I wonder if the trail was left some time ago by a deer, or more than one deer, generally meandering down a number of small paths, so there were lots of different faint trails.

He does tend to give up (and tire) very easily, which is just as well.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Nettle
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Re: Natural scenting abilities

Post by Nettle » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:29 am

It is indeed.

However, you do his instincts a disservice :wink: The idea of belting around is to spook the quarry into bolting. When it has committed itself to a direction is when the tough (in his case the fast) get going.

Shalista :lol: well spotted
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JudyN
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Re: Natural scenting abilities

Post by JudyN » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:18 am

Ah, I didn't realise that, Nettle :idea: That'll also explain why he often snorts as he belts round rather than runs silently as he would if he saw a deer in the distance on healthland. I thought it was just because he was so excited but if you're trying to flush the deer out you don't have to worry about stealth and silence.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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