Peta Clarke Scent Workshops & Seminar

Peta Clarke understands how animal think. She is an experienced and entertaining animal trainer. Working with animals has given her an abundance of amazing and hilarious stories. She has trained everything from a goldfish to an elephant and hundreds of different species in between.

She is based in Sydney & came to Brisbane to host a Scent works workshop & seminar. She explained that giving your dog an opportunity to hunt gives them a feel good buzz.

Our OIC Julia organised the most amazing weekend with Peta, filled with laughs and some amazing learning experiences. We had dogs with behavioral issues to dogs that wanted to just extend on their learnings. We had handlers that needed more confidence to tips to get that behaviour just right.

Peta Clarke is amazing. She has such charm that belies a very determined character that you cannot help but love. Her knowledge and understanding of animal behaviour is nothing short of astounding. But it is not her knowledge that endears her to you but her ability to understand what the reality is of what is happening.

Friday night saw Peta talk about all kinds of things from teaching sea lions to perform to seeing bra’s as birds nests.

Peta gave a fascinating, entertaining & thought provoking presentation about how behaviour works. She explained how to understand behaviour and how it shapes us and other species. She showed how positive reinforcement enables animals to enjoy being trained. We as trainers have to realise that there are so many things that affect how animals learn. Different breeds, age, health, emotional state, development, past experiences, time of day, if they are hungry/thirsty, and the immediate environment are things that we have to take into consideration when training our dogs. These are things that influence our training. Peta backs up her experience with the science behind it. She explained that if we are working with a dog or any other species if we understand the laws of learning & implement these we can predict the behaviour change.

For the rest of the weekend the days were broken up into 4 hr sessions, taking in behaviour modification, beginner scentworks, free shaping and advanced noseworks.

Free Shaping Workshop

Peta demonstrated to the trainers on how to build a behaviour by precise reinforcement. The clicker says ‘that is what I want’ and the food follows. She showed that she does not guide or prompt the behaviour, she selects the behaviour that is close to the end goal. As she raises the criteria, she withholds the click and waits for a movement closer to the goal.

Ruth did some free shaping with Biscuit holding a dumbbell and going to and staying on a mat.

28/9 Saturday afternoon Workshop Beginners Noseworks

Peta had the trainers and dogs starting off with empty cardboard boxes with a treat hidden inside one of them. The dogs were encouraged to go free and sniff around the boxes, when they found the treat, they got to eat it and were then rewarded at the spot with another treat. No wonder they loved this game.

Jan and Herbie had a great time outside with the boxes and Herbie enjoyed being off lead.

Brendan and Lassie did some empty box work also. Lassie being vision impaired really enjoys this game.

Vicki and Elsa showed us how it was done, Elsa is a natural when it comes to finding food.

Sonia and Jedda also made finding food hidden in boxes look easy.

Sunday afternoon : Advanced Noseworks Workshop

The session started off with a group of handlers asking their dogs to search and find an odour (we only used Birch) inside the room. It was quite confronting as it was a strange room that the dogs had never been in, it was crowded with a lot of people watching and the handlers did not know where the odour was hidden. Peta challenged the group by hiding the odour in a wrapped up mat which the dogs & handlers could not see. Other ‘hides’ were up high where the dog had to jump up to indicate. It was quite a challenging workshop.

Outside scent work

Peta hid some Birch odour on an outside building up high and another imbedded in the grass area. The handlers did not know where the ‘hides’ were located. It was difficult for the handlers and dogs as it was windy and it had been an area where other dogs had been walking/toileting. Also, most of the handlers had trouble with not realizing their dog’s “alert”, but they all managed to find the odour. The dogs loved it.

All in all it was a fantastic learning experience for everyone who went along. Huge thanks to Peta Clarke for fitting us in before the end of the year, to Julia for organising and hosting Peta, to Aveo for letting us use their facility and to everyone who came along.