Accessible vs Inaccessible

Once you leave Novice / NW1 in nose work, you could run into inaccessible hides in your search. What is in inaccessible hide? It is a hide the dog cannot put their nose right on. Accessible is a hide the dog can pin point, and put their nose on. Of course, in a trial, you will not see the hides, so there may be a slight distance between the dogs nose and the hide.

For example, you could have a hide in a cupboard, and the hide will be on the inside of the door, right at the seam. You can’t see it, but the dog is able to slide their nose up and down the seam, until they settle on the gap in the door right at the hide.

An inaccessible hide may be taped to the middle of the door or deep on the shelf inside the cupboard. You will see the dog sniff all around the door seams, try to get in the back of the cupboard, try to get in from either side of the cupboard, sniff around the edge of the door, and finally decide on a location to “tell you about it” (or, demand payment from you)

Basically, because we’ve trained the dogs to go to source, that the reward from you comes when they are on / at source, they will work pretty hard to pinpoint the hide, and get all the way to source. Once they determine that they are as close as possible to source, they will ask for payment from you.

The challenge can come when you have 2 hides, one they can pinpoint, and one they cannot. Again, we’ve trained them from the beginning to go to source, so that will most likely be the one they go to first. They may pick up odor on the inaccessible hide, but give up on it, leave it, and find the familiar accessible hide. If you bring them back, and prevent them from going back to the hide they’ve already found, you’ll see them work hard to pinpoint the inaccessible hide. When that is not an option, they will ask for payment.

With practice, the dogs get faster and faster at making a decision, and there are some trials where I can’t tell which was accessible and which was inaccessible. And since there are both types of hides in a search, pinpointing is still important! Because of that, I try not to do too many inaccessible hides, because I don’t want my dog thinking 18” away from source is always going to pay. The other thing I do in training to make sure source is still important to my dogs, is to open up the inaccessible area so the dog can get to source and be paid. That could be opening up a cupboard, moving a screen, giving them access to source, then paying them once they get there.

Here are some examples from class. I accidentally uploaded the videos in reverse order, so keep that in mind as you watch. We had ended w/ 4 accessible hides to really reinforce SOURCE as being important. Then you’ll see the searches had an easy, familiar accessible hide (on a chair) and a deeper, inaccessible hide. I kept the hides fairly far from each other, so the dogs would not continuously try to get to the familiar, accessible hide. And, the maze was pretty fun! We hadn’t done a maze in a while, and some had never done it. I think the dogs enjoy the feeling of success coming out of the maze, like we do when we find our way out of a corn maze!


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