Suspended Hide Drill

As your dog becomes more experienced in nose work, he or she will start working on elevated hides (those that are too high for a dog to reach, at least initially) and suspended hides (those hanging from a ceiling or overhead structure).

My advanced class students and their dogs have been already been introduced to suspended hides set out individually, starting from a height where the dog could still touch the hide, to about five feet in the air. But I recently reviewed my notes from the 2019 K9 Nose Work® Georgia Camp and couldn’t resist a multiple hanging cup drill introduced by expert CNWI and professional detection dog trainer Fred Helfers.

I used large paper coffee cups and binder clips instead of the washers that Fred used, but the concept was the same – to create a surface you could stick a magnetized hide onto inside of a cup shaped container. The cup could be suspended at any height to something on the ceiling, in my case, some rope tied between poles and a wall.

I used a total of four hanging cups and only one had odor. I suspended the cups away from the wall and poles, and did not include any chairs or other objects in the search area. I videotaped each dog’s run, off leash. The results are in the video at the YouTube link below.

That’s probably spilled kipper fish snack juice all the dogs are showing interest in on the floor. I ran my Intro to Nose Work class the day before. We have a very scared dog and we were using REALLY stinky high value treats to encourage him to search!

I plan to run the hanging cup drill again where the odor cup is right next to a wall, and another time where there are objects in the search area that the odor can possibly pool on. Then, if I can figure out how to suspend them outside, I’ll move to the great outdoors which introduces a much greater challenge due to more air movement. Like Fred reminded us in his drill notes, we need to be patient to give the dog time to work from a lower to a higher source, and from an easier to a more challenging environment.

My students had a great time with this drill and so did their dogs!