Making Scents of Dart Beagle

by Doranna

Dart Beagle–he who can’t manage an open obedience leg to save his life because…STAYS…is also playing around with utility work.

Mind you, obedience people who truly know what they’re doing work in utility foundation pieces right from the start.  But because I’m teaching myself as I teach Dart, I’m not layering quite that thoroughly.  Sure, I’ve tried to include small pieces–and more importantly, not train other pieces in a way that will create conflicts down the road–but it’s sure not like how someone who Truly Knew would do it.

(If I Truly Knew, I probably wouldn’t have a semi-bazillion or so dumbbells for Dart, acquired in the course of looking for the Right One.  Which we still don’t have.)


So now along with practicing retrieves and stays and broad jump (don’t even talk about down on recall), we’re working on go-outs and scent articles and directed retrieving, and acquiring the appropriate gear for all that.

In the past year, I’ve gone from no utility articles to two sets of awesomely nice utility articles–a single bar set that came with Rena Beagle, and a triple bar set that was a generous hand-me-over from one hound handler to another.  Amazing gifts!  (For them as doesn’t know, in utility, a dog must (twice) pick out the article most recently touched by the handler–one metal, one leather.  And nice articles are an investment.)


As soon as the articles came home, I started training Dart with them, if not exactly directly to task.  He’s a dog who needs to look at things from all the angles, so–totally aside from the scent related issues–he’s been trained to carry them, to bring them as a directed retrieve, to retrieve them when thrown…whatever.

He’s also been accustomed to holding and bringing me various random things, which is why every time he gets in my office trash, he has to bring me every single piece so I can put it back in the trash.  (This hasn’t particularly discouraged him from getting in the strangely alluring office trash, but it did help a whole lot with turning the process into a matter-of-fact experience.)


What took me by surprise was Dart’s instant loathing of the metal articles.

Dart Beagle:  I do not like the taste.

Dart Beagle: I do not like the way they feel on my teeth.

Dart Beagle: I do not like the weight.

Dart Beagle: I do not like them anywhere.

I gather this isn’t unusual.  (See above, if I Truly Knew…then such surprises would be more expected!)  So we’ve worked on it.  After all, he wanted nothing to do with the plastic and wooden dumbbells when we started, either, and now he luuuuurves them.

But familiarity did not breed fondness.

We’ve started working the scent portion of the learning curve and of course, again, I’m making it up as I go along.  I’ve done some reading, but for now I’m just doing my own thing.  (Since Dart needs to approach things from every conceivable angle, I’m sure those other methods will come in handy.  And probably soon.)  I’m pleased with how it’s going, except…

He’s making his feelings about the metal articles more and more known.

Dart Beagle: I do not like them on the floor, I do not like them in the store.  I do not like them in my mouth and I do not like them in my house.  I do not like them anywhere.

With leather articles of either style, he doesn’t hesitate.  (He’s not truly using scent discrimination at this point, but he’s thinking about it.  Mainly I want him to go out, pick the thing up, and bring it back, whilst surrounded by distraction articles.)

With a metal articles, he goes out to find it, touches it…and then offers every possible other behavior besides picking it up.  He sits, he downs, he flings himself around, he gets a wild-eyed look at makes a grab at the nearest leather article.

If he even so much as believes he’s about to go after a metal article, he sits with an alert expression, poised and eager, waiting for some acceptable command.  “Your mouth is moving, mommy, but I can’t hear anything.  Say some words I’d rather hear so I can do them!”

So I happen to have a batch of canning lids, which were acquired as tracking articles.  But they’re also okay for utility articles–aluminum as required, and featherweight.


I pulled one out yesterday and said to Dart, “I don’t think these will be easy to pick up, especially for a dog with your Picking Things Up style.  But here.  Why don’t you try–”

Dart Beagle: POUNCE!

Me: Well, what if the articles are lying the other way around?  That looks like it would be harder to–

Dart Beagle: POUNCE!

Dart Beagle: POUNCE!


Alrighty then.



About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
This entry was posted in D'Artagnan Beagle and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Making Scents of Dart Beagle

  1. Mona Karel says:

    YAAAA DartBeagle. Confounding training manuals and Moms at light speed

  2. Suzan Morrow Farrell says:

    Beagles do have a mind of their own—and Dart seems to specialize in that trait sometimes. Love him.

    • Doranna says:

      Dart is a fascinating dog–both to train and to own. He’ll never be an *easy* dog, though! When he’s bad, he’s veryvery bad…but when he’s good, it’s like flying!

  3. C Cameron says:

    Canning rings are what my parents used, and bent them in the middle so they’d have some more height in grass. They’d look like a sloppy C from one angle.

    Glad you found something that worked! Go, Dart!

    In case it’s useful, they sewed a cover/case of leather around a short length of wood dowel for the leather and used polished dowels for the wood. Kept them all in a kid’s metal lunch box.

    • Doranna says:

      Cool ideas!

      I find a place online that rivets half a canning ring on top of the ring, so the dog always has a handle. Trying to decide if that’s worth it–Dart doesn’t think a whole lot about how he’s grabbing what, and he knocks things over on his way through–I’m having a hugely challenging time clicking for the correct article because he bowls through like a bull in a china shop, scattering things everywhere before he’s through (and sometimes carrying two articles at once when he fails to discard a reject).

      In any event, when frustrated he also bites on them (and canning rings are totally biteable), so I’m going to give him some time to work through that before getting any new stuff for him, and to learn on the lightest weight leather articles. (This same place makes some cute leather articles with the same pattern, a circle with a half-circle riveted on for rings. Fortunately, not as expensive as the really nice ones that Rena will now have all to herself!)

  4. Ruth says:

    He definitely makes his feelings known. 🙂

  5. Marilyn says:

    Hmm. Maybe it’s a good thing Babette Beagle doesn’t have a speaking acquaintance with Dart! Because it sounds like the kind of thing she’d do. (grin) I will have to follow the exploits of Dart even more carefully! He is QUITE a hound.

  6. Marilyn says:

    PS, I didn’t know Dart read Dr. Seuss.

    • Doranna says:

      I think he came up with those little rhymes all on his own. 8)

  7. Patty says:

    Love hearing about Dart’s training!. Why are canning rings ok with him? Taste like jelly?

    • Doranna says:

      He’d like that! Actually, I think it’s just that they’re so lightweight. If he bites down, too, they give a little bit. The fancy articles definitely don’t!

Comments are closed.