Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Where? The Question in K9 Nose Work® With an Answer That's Right on the Tip of Your Dog's Nose

A Nose Work dog bounces around a vehicle, sweeps nose over arc of wheel well, checks rear bumper, sniffs tire, looks at handler, checks wheel well again, then sniffs around hubcap, holds his nose on a spot for a moment, exhales, drags his nose up the wheel to the top of the wheel well and looks at handler.

Handler: Alert?!
Judge: Where?
Handler: {flabbergasted, flustered, sweeping hand gesture encompassing the entire horizon} There at the top of the wheel well. 
Judge: No. Sorry.

What just happened? A dog found source odor and a handler panicked and responded to a judge asking where the dog had alerted, resulting in the handler identifying the wrong spot. For many handlers, the dreaded "where" question is one they hope to never hear, and for many judges, they'd hope not to have to put a good team on the spot. While answering the question of "where" is never easy, being well-prepared and having an answer to give based on observing your dog can save your team and prove that both handler and dog are in sync and on their game.

Why Do Judges Ask "Where"? - Here is the official wording from the NACSW rule book:

In the event the judge asks “WHERE?” the handler should identify the location of the source by 
pointing to the location without touching the location. (‘top drawer of the file cabinet,’ ‘right desk 
drawer,’ ‘kitchen sink,’ etc’) If correctly identified FULL POINTS AND TIME WILL BE AWARDED. 
This scenario is most likely with a dog that has a subtle final response that is not as easily 
identifiable or if the judge wants confirmation that the handler knows the location based on the 
dogs change of behavior. NOTE: Once you say “Alert”, if the judge asks “Where”, you must 
respond promptly. This is not an opportunity to re-cue your dog to continue searching to clarify 
the hide location. 

Here are just a few reasons why a judge may ask the "where" question upon your call of alert. Most often, the judge observes your dog clearly working the hide to source, but observes you looking less than confident about what your dog is telling you - maybe your dog has to keep going back to source to tell you three or four times during the search. Sometimes, a dog may have an unconventional way of working the odor and may not be as easy to read; maybe he goes to odor, gives a very subtle final response and moves away from the source before the handler calls alert. The judge might ask where because the dog found the source, moved off the source, and the handler called the alert after the dog left source. When hides are less sourceable, or are inaccessible, the judge may ask the "where" question if she sees all of the right behavior from the dog, say, the dog showing he wants to work a hide on the back of a wall-mounted sink blocked by some objects by bracketing the area and sniffing past objects in a way that shows the objects and the front of the sink aren't the source of odor, but the dog doesn't come to a clear final response. Occasionally, if the handler blocks the judge's view seconds before calling alert, the judge may have to ask the handler where the call is being made because of obstructed line of sight. 

What Is a Good Answer to the "Where" Question? - The best answer to the "where" question is to identify the area where your dog gave his final response! If he worked and worked on a desk and chair, then paused with his nose under the edge of the chair seat and exhaled loudly, you should be prepared to say, "it's under the chair".

If he works from one side of a shelving unit to the other and sniffs high up both sides and across the front, stretching his body, he may be working a hide that is not sourceable. Based on his behavior, you'd probably say you think it's high up on the shelf. If your dog shows that same behavior, but sniffs the shelf surface he can reach, and maybe sniffs a box on the shelf, you need to be able to quickly evaluate what he's communicating - is his behavior showing the presence of source odor on that shelf, or is he just sniffing the closest available scent after working hard to get to the hide that he cannot source? If you practice both types of hides, you should be able to see some key differences and say alert confidently, and answer the question of "Where?"

How Do You Prepare to Make the Right Calls if the "Where" Question Pops Up? - Practice observing your dog.

Watch your dog's change(s) of behavior as he begins to work the odor. Typically, your dog will catch scent, look for a way to follow scent to source, and then become very detailed as he closes in on source. Many dogs quicken sniffing and exhale loudly when at source, some dogs pause at the source for a moment before looking at the handler or sitting/downing. Almost every dog will try to get that nose as close to source as possible. Some do this very quickly and subtly, but they still do it.

Know what your dog looks like in a variety of search scenarios. There's not much to worry about when the hide is in a bucket and your dog sticks his whole head in there to find the odor. But, what about when it's under a table top in a metal channel running the length of the table? Will your dog catch scent moving along the channel and show a final response (even if his changes of behavior don't fully support it)? Sometimes patience is key and watching for your dog's tell-tale signs is the only way for you to know when he's done searching and found the source. What happens if your dog is partially out of your line of sight? Looks like you'll need to practice watching more than just his nose and head! A dog's rear half can give pretty clear signals as to when he's found the source. Maybe your dog's tail freezes when he's on source, maybe it wags really fast! The signs are all there for you to observe and become confident in trusting.

What Will Trial Day Be Like? - So, let's say you've logged some time observing your dog and you are confident in your ability to read him, what will your searches be like on trial day? The searches will probably be very much like you've been practicing for, but you and your dog may both be lacking a bit in confidence because of the unfamiliar location and/or anxiousness on your part because a title and ribbons are on the line. Your dog might not seem as strong or clear at source, and you most definitely will be cautious with your alert calls - or pull a 180 and blurt them out - and you might even be a bit "in your head", trying to size up the search areas and make guesses as to what the challenges might be.

If this is what your trial day might look like, remember your time spent in practice observing your dog. Don't get too focused on what your dog is checking out in the search environment, stay focused on your dog. He may check various objects in his quest for source - and the hide may indeed be in an object, but it could also just be pooling odor that's closer to him than the hide is. You'll only know this if you know your dog well in these scenarios. Look for the signs that he's working something he can reach (often the dog will close in on an area pretty quickly and sniffing will become faster, more intense, and more detailed). An inaccessible hide usually has the dog looking for ways to get closer, to get past items, and he'll usually spend a larger chunk of search time on looking for access to the source. Sometimes, this dog will show a sudden interest in a very accessible object in the area he's been working. This is usually the dog giving in to a handler who has been waiting for some clear indication of source as the dog worked and worked to show the presence of an inaccessible hide. If you recognize that your dog has been working in the area of that very accessible object for a while without showing interest in it, you don't have to call alert on the response you know is questionable, you can observe him working one more time before you make the call. Also, you don't have to wait for your dog to give a final response if all of his behavior is clearly spelling out the location of source odor. Whatever decisions you make, make them confidently.

What if Your "There" is not the Right Answer to Their "Where?" - So you watch your dog work a trash can in a corner and the hide is high on the back side where the dog can't reach it. The dog works up and down the can and spends a little more time on the bottom half so you call alert, get the "where" question, and say the bottom of the can. The judge tells you no. This is an invaluable training opportunity. At your next practice, try to set up similar challenges and observe your dog and look for the behavior you might have missed, or start thinking about how you help your dog to learn how to solve this kind of odor problem so it's more clearly observable for you. Maybe you start by making the hide a bit more accessible, or maybe it's not as high to start. Whatever you choose to do, your goals should be for your dog to learn how to get closer to source and for you to learn how to observe him better so you can make more accurate and confident calls.

As you practice to reach a level of teamwork where the question of "where" is just another opportunity to show how well you and your dog work as team, remember that the question does not get asked if you and your dog are not already a pretty darn good team. In the moments between "Where" and a yes or no from the judge, trust your teamwork, rely on your observations, and make the best of whatever comes next.

Happy Sniffing & Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Guest Blogger Jason Heng, CNWI, Answers the Question: Am I Ready For a K9 Nose Work® Trial?

I first crossed paths digitally with Jason Heng, CNWI, when he submitted a story to the NACSW newsletter about his journey in K9 Nose Work with his Shiba Inu, Atlas. At the time he submitted the story he was just a student with a (difficult) dog. Now he shares his experience, knowledge, and passion with students of his own.

Enjoy this post from Jason, it has lots of helpful information and some important words of wisdom, not just for people considering entering their first trial, but for everyone who wants to have fun with their dogs in the sport of K9 Nose Work.

Am I Ready for a K9 Nose Work® Trial?

by Jason Heng, CNWI

This post came about thanks to a question from a fellow instructor and the realization that hosting a trial locally means this question is going to be asked a few times before the trial.  If you’re a highly competitive person that has competed in other dog sports (agility, rally, IPO, etc) then you probably understand how competing can affect your attitude, learning and experience. If you, however, are competing for the first time the question has probably crossed your mind more than once: Am I or is my dog ready for a Trial?

If you have never competed with your dog, your nerves might be giving you a second thought about if you are ready. The K9 Nose Work community is growing, so reach out and talk with others who have competed and ask about their experiences. It can only help you learn more about the trial experience. If your region has trials happening now, go volunteer; this not only supports the K9 Nose Work community, but will also help you learn all you can for your own competition future. There was a previous blog post about what to expect for the trial day, check it out: The K9 Nose Work Trial Experience. So how do you decide if you and your dog are ready to trial?

Trial Considerations?
The first questions to ask are: is your dog ready for the day; is your dog reactive, does he become anxious in new environments, does your dog travel well, how about staying in a hotel? Any one of the answers might be of great concern. Although some reactive dogs are able to successfully participate in a K9 Nose Work trial, it doesn’t mean that your dog won’t need to be in proximity to other dogs in the parking lot, or on the way to the search areas. If you are considering competing with a reactive dog, attend a trial to see what it's like, visit the NACSW for information on trial readiness, or take the time to speak with a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) about what to expect with a reactive dog. When I decided to compete with my reactive dog, it was incredibly stressful. I felt confident in my responsibility to manage the environment for our safety and the safety of other dogs, but I wasn’t sure if the overall experience and the potential environmental stressors would be too hard on my dog. Although his reactivity has reduced with K9 Nose Work, entering a new environment with dogs and putting my dog into a stressful situation was of significant concern. The path to the first search area was straightforward after leaving the parking lot from the reactive dog parking and the waiting areas were screened from view, so once we started our process to the search area there were few opportunities to see other dogs (this is not a guarantee at every trial - each location may be different). Be comfortable with the decision to compete, talk with your instructor and other competitors that have reactive dogs before deciding. The NACSW had a policy statement recently regarding the red bandana and reactive dogs, find it in the NEWS section on the NACSW home page.

Travel considerations can be stressful as well. Will it be hot on the trial day? If so, preparing to make your dog comfortable while crated in the vehicle will need some thought beforehand. Even staying in a dog-friendly hotel can present a challenge; if your dog barks at the smallest noise, sleep might be all you’re searching for on the day of trial. Traveling with your dog previous to a trial can be a good way to assess any challenges. Are there any mock trials in your area? Maybe just getting your fellow classmates together in a park to have a dry run, crate in your cars, set some hides for practice, don’t rush through, have a cup of coffee and talk about your concerns. Then run the dogs through one or two elements with someone being the timer and the videographer. Watch the video as part of your day asking each person to contribute some positives about each dog. Many instructors do this in class, so ask about doing a practice run of one or more of the elements.

Go review the trial photos for the last couple of trials on the NACSW website at There is a great deal of information in those photographs; scanning through each element you can get a good idea of some examples of search areas. If you see something you haven’t practiced such as, exterior on gravel, or vehicles on dirt, or containers on carpet then get out and practice in those types of environments. The NACSW is also working on getting some sample videos of trial searches available on the website site soon.

Know how your dog works!
It’s hard to be objective about our own dogs. The dog doesn’t have to be the fastest in class, the most determined, or have found the most challenging hide the instructor set last week. It’s more important that you have grown as a team. From the introduction of birch, to this point your dog has become a detection dog. They go to work with focus in new search areas quickly and work for extended search times. They are odor obedient and therefore work through distractions and source odor with focus. All dogs lose focus from time to time when searching so if they re-focus after little or no interactions from the handler and continue working to source then they have learned that odor is more important. In addition the odor is important enough for them to tell you about it, “Hey! It is right here!” Your dog’s communication is clear enough to you the handler that you have enough confidence to read your dog and say, Alert! Even if your call had a question mark after it for the ORT, consider where you are today. If this describes your team then there is a good chance your dog is ready. If you’re still not sure this describes your dog, have a friend video and watch to give you another perspective. Ask your instructor for their feedback.

How do you deal with disappointment?
How about that team member holding the leash, are you ready? It’s just another day of searching for your dog. Having a positive attitude about the outcome of each element is more important than getting a ribbon. Failure is the lack of success, however learning from your dog and having fun is a successful day. The dog didn’t fail, even if you missed them telling you about a hide, fringed or false alerted. Instead you might have needed to be more patient for your dog to source, or the dog may not have had enough experience for the particular hide placement. Maybe the distraction was too much to overcome at that time: dog pee, acorns, a flock of sparrows flying under a vehicle, or a loud sound (fireworks in the adjacent neighborhood, a train near by, or thunder). All of these distractions and others have happened during trials at one time or another in my trial experience. The dog was still successful. What you learn as a handler is just as important for the next trial. You will have the opportunity to reward at source in the search area at an NW1 and/or at the practice boxes after the search.

You will most likely be nervous or extremely nervous, the day of trial. Seeing the search areas will shower your thoughts with what-ifs. Try to focus on why you are there: to have fun! If you are going to get really upset at yourself, consider volunteering at a trial before you compete. Being able to see other teams work will give a better perspective of the trial day and talk to others about their experiences. Giving a little perspective to the competitive environment can only help frame your expectations for a later trial day.

Learn from the Experience!
So you have decided you’re ready, now what? Your expectations are even more important. When you participate in the walk through on the day of trial and try to guess where the hide has been set, “oh it must be in the desk because the drawer is open a crack”. Your expectations will cloud your perceptions of the dog’s behavior. Remember the point is to have a fun day of searching with your dog as a team. If one of the team members is trying to out-think the nose then encountering difficulties will be inevitable. The big expectation might be about getting that title ribbon, we are human as we measure success based on the acknowledgment of others, no getting around that. The pass rates for NW1s vary on any given day, averaging around 50%. So if it’s pouring rain on the trial day, less people will pass, not because it’s too hard, but because most competitors probably didn’t train enough in rainy conditions to give their dogs enough experience working in the rain. Having a dog that objects to going out to potty in the rain, I can’t imagine the look she would give me if the trial were in a downpour (with no lighting/thunder of course). I would hope to have fun, and my takeaway might be to share with everyone I coach that next time we have class and it’s raining, we are going to practice in the rain.

The trial is a test, but you are measuring your dogs’ progress, it’s not a graduation. In another way, you must be measured in your attitude for that day. Things happen in the moment and if you get too disappointed or too excited it will affect the day’s experience. Yes “experience” it is not a performance! K9 Nose Work is not about performance; birch is not an explosive device nor is anyone going to get arrested based on your call of Alert! Even for those highly competitive folks out there, you are still competing against yourself. Each search is a different dog with a different handler, with a varied experience, strengths and weaknesses, the wind can change each minute altering the conditions, or a dog can pee in the search area plus a myriad of other conditions. When the ribbons are awarded it’s about the fastest time for that search, and although the searches are meant to be as close to the same for each dog as possible, there’s still an unknowable variability each time. So if you get a placement, your dog did extra great to be sure, and I always think of it as he was really on the game for that search and we benefited with a fast time that earned us an extra acknowledgment. That doesn’t make us better than all the other teams but means we shined enough to get the extra bonus. Supporting the sport includes being proud of all the other competitors if you were not acknowledged that trial day. If you get more that one placement or first to third overall, nothing minimizes that for your team’s work was outstanding and you should be proud.

Even as an instructor it’s not always a clear-cut decision when watching a team work to answer are they ready. Consider your learning style, do you need to see examples or can you read about a situation and be comfortable about the process. Can you watch someone tie a knot and tie that knot with little or no practice? My learning style is to learn by doing, so when I decided to trial for the first time, it was to measure our progress as a team. I was willing to pay the entry fee, travel the thousand miles to the nearest trial to have the opportunity to learn all I could about how the trial works. I also volunteered at that first trial weekend to learn more about the trial process. I felt my dog was odor obedient and that the odor was important enough for him to overcome most environmental distractions. I was still concerned about his reactivity but knew I could manage him. I was least sure about being able to read his communication consistently at source, but I was willing to risk taking the jump to competition to evaluate the progress from our year long training. The trial was a blast and Atlas and I had a lot of fun. I learned many lessons, including what I needed to work on, where there were gaps in my training. Oh, and he didn’t get a title that first time, we did get a placement in vehicles, so overall it was a great success. Even for the elements we missed in retrospect he worked well, just didn’t overcome the distraction that day. Regardless of the outcome Atlas was rewarded at source each time. What I learned is that I have a great deal of fun competing with my dog. When he did earn an NW1 title at our 4th trial attempt the pride in my dog was immeasurable! The bar is set high to make the accomplishment of training our dogs as a detection dog just that much sweeter. Seeing my fellow nose work enthusiasts being recognized with titles is part of the great day. Some of those teams I had never meet, some were friends. I am always excited for all of the competitors because a K9 Nose Work title is such a wonderful way to honor your dog!

Thanks again to Jason for sharing this post with everyone. Don't forget to thank a veteran today (and everyday). And don't forget some of those veterans are dogs - so thank a dog, too! Human and canine working together are capable of amazing things, be it to save lives or to enrich a personal relationship.

Happy Sniffing!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Shiba Experiment: Can K9 Nose Work® Help Me Find a Reason to Tolerate (maybe even like) My Shiba Inu?

Confession time: I have a dislike of my Shiba Inu, Jade, so strong it borders on hatred. When I say "my Shiba Inu", I mean this like a prison warden would call a convict "my prisoner". This dog lives in my house, and I take responsibility for her care, but she's not mine mine. I take care of Jade, mainly because she's used her evil Shiba mind-control powers on my wife, Rachel, and made her have irrational feelings of love. I take care of the Shiba-beast, but, my not-so-secret hope is for this dog to run away in a snow storm and disappear from our lives forever. After over 4 years of living with this soulless creature, I've come to grips with the fact that no matter how many times she's run away or appeared to be choking on food she's stolen from one of the other dogs, this constantly nipping, yipping, shedding, snarling black imp is not leaving my life. Hoping this little Darth Vader dog may have a shred of goodness somewhere inside her, I've decided to turn to K9 Nose Work to bring her to the light. Who knows how this manipulative minion of darkness will respond to such a relationship-driven activity, but one thing's for sure, my Karma bank account should be in the black forever with this act of kindness.

How did Jade & I come to live with - and despise - each other? Human love. My wife, Rachel, had two dogs before we met, Jade, and a mutt named Deogee - who is a great dog & best buds with my dog, Muriel. The first time Jade & Muriel met, Jade forced her into a corner and frightened her so badly she emptied her bladder in fear. The second time they met, Jade physically attacked Muriel. This time I intervened and grabbed Jade by the hind legs, hoping to prevent bloodshed. While dangling in my grip, this serpent-dog coiled up and bit my elbow. The bite caused a reflex that sent Jade flying. She skidded across the floor, hit the wall, and popped up like a fluffy little four-legged terminator, driven by the singular purpose of inflicting pain on me and mine. Only because of my love for her human, was Jade allowed to be a part of my life. When Rachel & I moved in together (first in a one-bedroom guest house in the San Fernando Valley), Jade had numerous opportunities throughout each day to terrorize Muriel and drive me crazy. She would try to bite me any time I touched her for anything, she'd dig under fences, bring near-lifeless birds & squirrels to the front door of the guest house - once she dropped a bird in the landlord's family room - and she would emit a shrill banshee cry for hours each night, no doubt communicating the effectiveness of her dastardly deeds to some distant evil overlords. Like a comic book villain, she's no less black of heart after all these years, rather, she's become more patient and selective in the pain she inflicts. Most recently, she's run away several times, attacked Muriel over food a number of times, frightened the vet's office staff with glass-shattering screams in protest of a temperature reading by rectal thermometer, and murdered a few frogs in the back yard, leaving me to clean up frog bodies like the county amphibian coroner. In between her bouts of mischief and mayhem, she sits calmly with a blank stare that says she's fully expecting to outlast me in our little game of thrones.

Jade isn't entirely new to K9 Nose Work. I've been thinking about the possibility of working with Jade as my next nose work dog for a while now, and I did demo her a month ago at a clinic to show that even convict-dogs can benefit from some time in the "exercise yard". And, true to our relationship, Jade clawed at the ground, pulling against the leash as I led her into the demo area - she probably thought I was planning a public execution. Even as we played the game, she nervously popped around, expecting a trap to spring at any moment. I can't even imagine how we would work together as a team - trust is not something either one of us has found in the other. Yet, as much as I would enjoy the clean slate a puppy brings to the game, I find it much more interesting to try and use K9 Nose Work to dismantle the bad behaviors of the past and repair a broken relationship, with the hope of forging some previously unfathomable bond between dog and handler.

Over the next few months, probably as a members-only feature, I will document and share parts of my K9 Nose Work journey with the cute little excrement sack all of the neighborhood kids want to pet (unless said kids are holding food, in which case Jade will body slam them to the ground), in hopes of capturing the magical power of K9 Nose Work to alter the core of a being (or two beings) and to create trust and a bond where, before, only malice existed.

Jade giving the camera her favorite look: evil.
Here is a photo of Jade, video will probably follow as part of the members-only content. She's a highly food-motivated dog, so, if nothing else works, she'll learn to love food even more and hate that I hold large stores of it captive from her jaws, accessible only through honest sniffing work (not bullying and thievery). As this experiment moves forward, I really have no idea what I will do if this dog & I develop neutral - or worse, positive - feelings for each other. It will truly be a K9 Nose Work miracle!

Happy Sniffing!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Be All About Your Dog in K9 Nose Work

Many lucky K9 Nose Work dogs and their people just wrapped up an enjoyable long weekend of nose work - with the added bonus of a beautiful backdrop - at Colorado K9 Nose Work Camp, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. Last month, a great group of nose-workers gathered in Pennsylvania for K9 Nose Work Camp in the Poconos Mountains. Attending a K9 Nose Work camp is a singular experience in the nose work world, it's also a big commitment of time and money. Similarly, attending seminars or workshops, or traveling a long distance for K9 Nose Work classes, requires you to give more than just love for the opportunity to learn K9 Nose Work with your dog. When you invest your time, money - and your love - into K9 Nose Work, it's easy to let the desire to reach certain goals, as well as expectations for the way training should happen, get in the way of true learning for the dog (and the human). If you want to reach your desired goals and have your expectations met, you have to be willing to be all about your dog in K9 Nose Work.

What do I mean when I say you should be "all about your dog" in K9 Nose Work? Here are some ideas:

Set Your Dog Free - on or off-leash, beginning or advanced, your K9 Nose Work dog needs to spread his scenting wings and fly. He needs to start making his own decisions and coming to his own conclusions about what pays and what doesn't and how you fit into the picture when you are part of the search. The smaller and more insignificant a role you play in the game, the better. The more freedom you give your dog to explore and rule things out, and to come to the one right behavior independently (find source odor), the better.

The easiest way to do this in the beginning is to have your dog work off-leash and search for primary reward, then paired odor & reward hides with random supplemental reward, and to have an instructor do most of the interacting necessary in the search until your dog is confident that source odor is the only game in town that pays.

As your dog progresses, you'll be a bit more involved in the searches (rewarding, helping make sure areas are fully covered), so it's as important as ever to make sure your dog is still searching freely without getting hung up on things you're doing (knowingly or otherwise) in the search. Your reward should not be hidden from your dog. We humans would probably love to snatch a paycheck from our boss' hands before our 40hr week was over, but we know, even if that check is dangling before our eyes, we won't get it unless we put in the work. Your dog can be the same way. He'll happily work for his paycheck even if it's right there in your hand. In fact, he'll understand more clearly that it's there and waiting for him as soon as he finds source odor. When you play the disappearing/reappearing coin trick of reward tucked behind your back or stuffed in a bait bag, this can be confusing for your dog - especially if you're early or late with the reward and he fixates on where it's coming from. Finding source odor should be your dog's only goal, not trying to outsmart you and your spring-loaded treat hand.

Just like you shouldn't hide the fact that your dog's reward is right there waiting if he just finds source, you should not keep him in the dark about your movements and actions in the search. At some point, your dog is going to need to know with certainty that sometimes you might stand in an area, by an object, or even ask or direct him to search something/somewhere, and at no time should that mean to your dog that a reward is forthcoming; only if source odor is found does your dog get that reward. Same goes for distractions, and clear areas. If your dog cannot confront these scenarios and go through the possible outcomes (always leading him to the one and only outcome that pays: find source for reward), then it should not surprise you if he pulls one over on you at the time when you are most vulnerable (blind search).

Early and always, let your dog discover how he can be right in the search, even if it means he tries some of the wrong behaviors as he works on understanding that finding source is the one right behavior in all situations.

Try to See Things Your Dog's Way - I don't mean get down on all fours and sniff around - although that's fun and probably has some kind of value in some alternate nose work universe! I mean, think about how we are different from our dogs, especially how we react to experiences and how we process information. Humans have a tendency to focus on the negative in any situation. To dwell on it, in fact. And, to apply prejudice to similar situations they might encounter in the future. Dogs - and this is just an observation - appear to take what works from any given situation, and forget the rest. It makes sense; you wouldn't last long in the wild if, when devouring a tasty rabbit, all you thought about was the terribly long time it took you to locate the rabbit, the multiple times you pounced and he wasn't there, the few times you sniffed up trees when he was hiding down in the thatch, the extended bout of sniffing you went through while he cowered right beneath your nose. You'd do much better to see it as a successful hunt (you are eating the rabbit, after all), and you'd make sure on your next hunt not to be so easily fooled, maybe to pay closer attention to the information your nose is bringing in.

When working with your dog in nose work, think in terms of what the experience of searching means to the dog when success is always achievable - not always easy, but achievable. It means that the experience is almost always positive, and will result in better performance in subsequent searches. For example, a dog who works a container search with a hide in a flat bag where scent is escaping in such a way that the dog doesn't commit to investigating the bag, rather he looks everywhere else, will usually respond much differently to similar situations in future searches - he'll make sure to check flat bags sooner and more carefully, and if the hide is in a flat bag, he'll commit to it with more confidence.

Imagine if you watched your dog search the flat bag from your human perspective, you would probably feel like he was struggling, and want to do something about it. You'd be thinking "Why is it taking so long? How come he's passed it 6 times? Why is he leaving the area to sniff random things?". You might try to put him on leash and guide him on a path to the bag, or to stand by the bag and call him back every time he leaves. You'd probably be focusing on why he wasn't doing better, finding it faster, being more clear with his indication - all the negative things. Consequently, you'd be missing the fact that your dog was learning that whole time, and that he was working toward an achievable success. while we may have to manipulate a search environment or handle our dogs differently depending on the search scenario, the best strategy to begin with is to be patient and let your dog learn.

Be Willing to Try New and Different Training Ideas... at Least Once - some of the best things I've ever done with my dog in our K9 Nose Work training were things I felt so at odds with when I first tried them, that if I had not kept an open mind, I would have dropped the ideas in a heartbeat. After seeing how Muriel responded to the different ways of handling her in different searches, I would have been robbing her of excellent learning and skill building if I would have let my feelings of discomfort and doubt influence our training.

New exercises often take several repetitions over time and in different environments before your dog is reaping the full benefits. Sometimes, the exercises are working for the dog even when they're not working for us.

If you're training with an instructor at a camp or seminar, or in your weekly class, and you're asked to try new or different ways of starting a search, handling your dog, or rewarding your dog, then make a real effort for your dog - even if you have your own ideas about how the new strategies will play out. You may not even be aware that you're giving your dog way too much leash in the search, starting him when he's not paying attention/ready to hunt, or paying him too many times for finding the same hide. Going along with a new way of working can help your dog shake some of these bad habits you've been promoting.

Are there times you should not try something new & different? Sure. If you're getting information from a source that's not familiar with the activity & sport of K9 Nose Work, you might not want to try things on blind faith. Instead, you should absorb the information you receive and think about how some part of it might be applicable to your nose work training.

Let Your Dog Teach You - you may be the handler part of the nose work team, but what you should really be doing is observing. Your dog has so much information to share in any given search that if you're ready to watch, you'll be amazed by what you can learn that will help your team in the search - or at least not do any harm!

Try pairing your reward with the source odor so you can just watch the search instead of worrying about your role in the game and whether you will inadvertently cue your dog with poor reward timing.

Use what you've learned to be a better handler. If you see that you're trapping your dog in certain parts of a search and he's not moving out independently, there's an opportunity for you to positively affect the search, just by moving around more. Maybe your dog starts his searches at 90mph and doesn't turn the sniffer on until he hits 200mph, so he begins most searches by jumping into the deep end of the odor pool and then spending way too much time doggy paddling around without a plan. Be more patient at start lines, set threshold hides, set multiple hides in a row for your dog to find one after another close together. A handler who learns from his dog is a handler who starts to think like a dog - and, in most searches, that's a good thing!

Whatever stage of nose work training you and your dog are in, try to keep things fun and exciting for your dog - exciting usually means challenging, but achievable. Do your best not let your own preconceptions or feelings about a search project onto your dog. And, remember, if your dog wasn't having fun, he wouldn't get right back in the searching game and do it all over again, tail wagging & face beaming. So, trust that your dog is both an excellent student and teacher, fade yourself into the background a bit and be all about your dog!

Happy Sniffing!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Learning From K9 Nose Work NACSW National Invitational Videos: Kristie & Jasper Part 3

This week we look at the last two videos from Kristie & Jasper's National Invitational searches! The 2014 NACSW National Invitational is already scheduled for May 9th in Santa Rosa, CA! If you & your canine already have an invite, congratulations! For the rest of you, sniff hard and sniff fun, you may or may not make it in for 2014, but it's all about the journey, not the destination!

Day 2 NACSW National Invitational

Garage Bottles - I could watch videos of this search area over and over again. There's so much to observe in the way each team works the problems out. Jasper, as we've seen in prior videos, is such an independent searcher and really gets - and enjoys - the task of finding every "bird" in the bushes!

 *** this video was giving me trouble right before posting - I could view it no problem on an iPad with Youtube app, but not on a laptop through Safari or Chrome. Let me know if you have issues, not sure what I can do about it, other than redo the commentary and re-upload at a later date...***

Jeff McMahon: Boy, he heads off to chart his own path! You can always count on him to hunt one down, then another, then another! -- hang back at the start a little more and he might start knocking them down right from the get go instead of coming back later to round up the two or three he blows by at the threshold.

Kristie Cervantez: This was the most fun of the entire weekend.  I, like everyone else, when we did the walk through laughed and thought “OH BOY...this is either going to be the most fun or the biggest disaster”.
What should be mentioned is this, Jasper LOVES to play with water bottles.  Since he was a puppy he has been a water bottle cruncher, whether the water bottle is in a toy or by itself.  He also has a couple of the toys that were strewn about, so again I thought, this could be trouble.  How wrong I was about trouble.  I am so proud of him.  He was all business as soon as he entered the search.  No goofing around.  He knew what his job was and he did it.  Crazy!  I like watching the video from both angles.  What amazed me when I first watched it was how long it took him to alert on the first hide.  Over 30 seconds (glad I did not realize that at the time..I would have panicked)...What was more amazing watching the video, he entered the search area and pretty much scoped out the whole thing.  It looks like he was mentally checking off where he knew some of the hides were before he got to the business of finding and alerting on them.  It was another “unknown number” of hides and I was so focused on what he was doing and so proud of how he was working, I did not even think to count how many he had found.  I truly just followed him the entire time, calling the alerts and handing out the treats.  This search was all Little Man.

JM: The first water bottle hide is tough because he's so pushy he knocks it around and has to re-find it twice.

KC: When I am not quite sure where he is alerting, I will ask him, “Do better” and I did on this one.  He tried to do better for me but you are right, he was pushing it around.  He did know where it was and I did call it and get it right.

JM: The toy hide under the ladder, are you worried he's possibly on the wrong object and waiting to see if he starts working again?

KC: This one was funny.  I did the same thing, “do better little man” and Jasper looks at me and I says..”NO..I found it you call it I already did need to TRUST ME”.  He actually said all of that with that one look at me..I was just the only one that heard him.  :)  He was right and did not need to “do better”.

JM: On the pallet hide, even Jasper now seems to be wondering if he's following the scent to the right source, taking a little more time to figure things out.

KC: On this hide, I knew he found something, I think he again was trying to figure out how to retrieve it.  He finally got as close as he could and alerted.

JM: Clear indication on that hide in the center of the area in the vertical cardboard tube - nice!  

KC: This is one of the ones that he found on his initial canvas of the room, he just worked his way back to it.  Good Boy!

JM: Great job covering the whole area and getting back to the threshold to find remaining hides.

KC: Great job Jasper in covering the whole area.  He took himself back to that threshold hide.  If you notice, I never once led him or touched him or directed him in any least I do not think that I did. 
He got that last one and again, I had no idea how many we had found.  He kind of sniffed around Luther a bit and I think finally saw the spectators.  He looked around somewhat and then looked at me and I knew he was done.  He just had that look as if to say “That is it MaMa...we found them all”.  FINISH
We left the area with the biggest smiles on our face...

Interior Tables & Chairs - This search still impresses me as a really cool problem to put the dogs in the middle of, and even though it's not as grand and flashy as some of the other searches, it's a challenge worthy of the best sniffers around. How fitting that it would be our last search - a smaller, more familiar looking search area for the end of two long days of searching, but a tough scent puzzle to solve. A "wolf in sheep's clothing" of a search!

JM: nice first find - so funny that he just charges into the middle of the search area after that!

KC: I think this was my second favorite search.  I stopped outside to give him some water.  He gets really thirsty after searching and we had just left the bottle search.  I remember opening the door to start the search and it was so quiet.  All weekend that room had been a hub of actitivty and it was like opening the door to Church.  :)  I was not sure how well we were going to do. He had just worked pretty hard.  Little Man rocks again.  He enters the search area and boom...alerts on the TV Stand.  Christina (judge) asks me the dreaded “Where?” question.  I showed her where he was alerting and we got it right.  I think I said to her “I deserved that” because he was not as accurate as he usually is (he was tired..I could tell), but I knew what he was telling me.

JM: Good job with the chair hide. Nice flow to the shop vac hide.

KC: Following Little Man as he does his thing, finding a hide and trying to figure out how to get it into his mouth.

JM: Gets table hide at 1 minute left to search. There you guys go again working the area he's pretty much cleared -- I see a habit that could be broken!! Like my inability to move Muriel on from blowing odor in no less than 60 seconds!

KC: Let’s break the habit.  :)

JM: Okay - working the chair hide you clearly aren't sure if he got it already. Makes more sense as to why you're hanging out there. Was very hard to keep track of everything in these searches.

KC: I think that the hide we missed was right behind us.  It is that converging odor thing we need to work on.  In watching the video, I see him catch odor over there but than works the table and chair.  You are right, and I think I asked, haven’t we found this one?  I could not remember and he was working, trying to find something.  He finally gave up and alerted and we received our one and only “No” of the entire weekend.

JM: hmmm... interesting call. I did the same thing, calling a false in the final seconds of this search. I think it was nose work fatigue for all of us!

KC: After the “No”, they had already called 30 seconds and I just called finish.  Little Man was tired and I could tell.  He did an amazing job and I am just so proud of him.  He loves his MaMa and I love him and in watching us together, I think it shows.

What a great series of videos Kristie so generously shared with us all. Thanks again to Kristie & Jasper and thank you to the NACSW!

Happy sniffing!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Learning From K9 Nose Work NACSW National Invitational Videos: Kristie & Jasper Part 2

Lots of nose work fun from coast to coast this past month has delayed parts two and three of the Kristie & Jasper videos. So, I will not delay any further. Enjoy the sniffing!

Day Two of NACSW National Invitational

Equipment Exterior - I love that Kristie kept the leash on Jasper for this search, it gives a nice contrast to Muriel's off-leash work in the same area. The more I watch videos of the exterior search at the National Invitational, the more I wish there was a search area like that in my backyard!

Jeff McMahonInteresting that he headed straight for the truck first, then on the same path as Muriel to the hide behind the plate on the yellow truck's front bumper, the stack tires, then the tube.

Kristie Cervantez: This was our first search of the day Sunday and I think we went 2nd, lucky for us, it was not too hot at that time.  Very windy though. I remember walking up and the Steward told me there were 8 we were told “unknown number”.  In watching the video, I really lucked out at where I started Jasper.  Again, though, I just walked up and that is where we started and it looks like we were lined up directly with the hide on the back of the truck. Jasper went right to it.  Good way to start the day.  Again, no real plan to start..I just followed his nose.

JM: I like your ID of Jasper crittering in the gravel as you head towards the tires. He's much different when he's just farting around and odor is not nearby.

KC: He is very different when he is not on odor.  My thought at the time was cat poop or something so we moved along. I guess I figured we will just walk around the perimeter and see where his nose stops.

JM: worked the tire stack hide similar to Muriel - on a mission, passed the hide and u-turned fast, sourced with confidence. very nice.

KCLittle Man was playing his “A” game.

JM: Tube hide presented no challenge for J-man!

KC: Again...just following Jasper while he does the work.

JM: Nice job getting him back to the perimeter/threshold for that hide on the red steps.

KC: We just ended up there after our “walk around”.  Michelle told me not too many people found that one.  I am actually glad that we ended up doing this search on-leash.  It helped me keep better track of where we were and may have kept him more focused.

JM: good idea to go down the row of vehicles after that threshold hide.

KC: is where I remember...oh yea..I should be counting how many we have found.  I was so focused on Jasper that I forgot to count.  I even asked Natalie, she was timing, jokingly how many have we found so far.  I even stopped for a second trying to count.  I think I stopped at that yellow tractor and Jasper found a hide.

JM: Interesting choice to go back to the corner where tires stacks end, then to work the trash dumpster. You take him back after he leaves, I actually like that strategy in most situations - might have worked well in the warehouse interior to sort out the shipping crate hide faster.

KC: Now is the point where I am thinking have we found 6 or 7?  Where have we not been?  That dumpster and scoop look like they are there for a reason (they were there for a reason..distraction!  No odor on them) so I asked Jasper to work them.  Nothing where are we going to go???

JM: Dang - that pressure washer was a tough two-hide object. He pushed right past the hide on the hitch to get to the one on the fender. No wonder no one found 8 out there!

KC: We went to the only corner we had not been...THE PRESSURE WASHER..  Little Man looks like he actually caught the one on the hitch first, then the fender.  He alerted on the fender and then bad handler me, I pull him off in the wrong direction.  Now I really cannot remember how many we have found..7 or 8?  Do I call finish or keep going? 

JM: Interesting to me that you would choose that corner for the last 45 seconds - he really showed nothing there as he found a hide in the tires and a hide in the tube - nothing between. I guess, at that point in the search it really doesn't matter where you go because you'd have to go back where you just were to find hide 8, but it is interesting to think about.

KCWe kept going and headed back to the corner..not even sure why..Than they call 30 seconds.  He alerts on the tire again and what the heck, I call finish.  It was a fun search.  He did great.

* Only the raw footage is shown for this search. The commentary for this video was done a total of 3 times. All 3 Coach's Eye videos with commentary became corrupted in the conversion process - there is something about the source video that the app does not like. Since I'm not reading from a script, there were 3 different commentaries, all of them now lost to the digital abyss forever. On the plus side, getting to talk about the video 3 times made me acutely aware of how much can be learned from this search!

To highlight a little bit of what I talked about:

- The garbage bin in the center of the search area was used twice by Jasper to work out two different problems. When thinking strategy, you have to manage your dog's need to work in the same area twice, with your desire to keep him from going back to source a hide he's already found. There's a balance to be struck in terms of how close you allow them to get to an already source hide and how many times you let them go back to an area. In this search, he needed the freedom to cover the same ground at the trash bin, and he would have needed the freedom to re-cover the pressure washer to find the second hide (the only one he missed).

- When Jasper finds the 7th hide on the fender of the pressure washer, Kristie takes him and directs him on to search away from the pressure washer, thus not putting him in a position to work the final hide. I am guilty of moves like this, as I'm sure others are, too. It's worth looking at how our dogs work from one hide to the next when we don't reinforce continued sourcing of the same hide. Be mindful, as each dog will be different, and some are very sensitive to getting paid for finding odor, no matter if it's the tenth time at the same odor without moving. The key to look for is how your dog resumes working once they know a second find is the only way to get more reward at a source. I see a lot of dogs who, once they leave an odor they've been paid for finding, will really make good choices in hunting down that next hide - much better choices than we humans will usually make!

- Kristie very confidently identifies when Jasper is just smelling critters or some other non-target odor scent in the gravel between the yellow truck hide and the stacked tires hide. It's pretty clear which is which when you watch him self-indulge in the gravel and then watch him work a target odor. Where people get caught up is in waiting for a final response. You can't solve a puzzle with just the last puzzle piece, but you can pretty much solve a puzzle with all of the pieces but the last one. Focus on the behaviors leading up to your dog finding source. This will give you what you need to rule out non-target odor interest, and to be confident your dog has found source even when he doesn't give you a clear final response.

Warehouse - This one was down to the final seconds for Kristie & Jasper! If you don't know/have forgotten, this was a known number of hides the dogs were searching for, so at the 30 second warning with 5 hides found, she knew there was one more out there somewhere.

JM: Your pace is nice and his responses to odor are strong.

KC: This was really fun too.  It was only 2 mins and Jasper was all business.  He seemed like he found one right after the next.  His “retrieving” behavior really showed itself on the second hide we found, on that big white thing.  He sourced it so well because he was trying to retrieve it.

JM: Squeaked that threshold broom hide in at the last second! Nice job!

KCI loved this search because I just had this overwhelming feeling of confidence in him.  Thus far, we had not made one false call.  You know I had been struggling since last Nov in San Pedro with my confidence in him and more so in myself.  It felt so good to have shaken all of that off and be able to “trust” my Jasper and have FUN.

Part three to follow in the next week or so. Thanks again to Kristie for sharing her videos!

Happy Sniffing!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Focusing on Distractions in a K9 Nose Work® Search

Our dogs deal with distractions in every search all of the time. Most of the distractions are low value compared to the target odor and the promised reward. Some distractions can be truly irresistible to even the most focused dog. Our hope is that our dogs will seek out and find the target odor, even if it means passing over a burrito in a duffel bag, or the scent of a deceased critter in a wood pile. Our biggest fear is that our dogs will take such an interest in a distractor scent that we'll get duped into thinking that a stick of butter in a box is the target odor. How do we put our fears to rest and make our hope the reality? How do we get to a place where we're confident in our dogs to always choose target odor above all other scents?

Always Deliver a Clear & Clean Reward - Not only is it important for your dog to get rewarded at the source of the target odor, but it's also important that you not drop food reward elsewhere in the search for him to eat. The clearer your dog is on what pays (finding the source of the target odor), the easier it is for him to seek that out above all else. If your dog usually finds a dropped treat in the search, he's being rewarded for efforts that don't result in locating the target odor. If you encourage him to find dropped treats, beware. Behavior that's rewarded is behavior that's repeated. Maybe, he expects that you also want him to find food in target-odor-only searches. What happens when he encounters food in the search, but he can't just help himself to it? Hopefully he doesn't offer a final response. Your dog should get paid only by paired reward on the target odor or reward you deliver, anything else he enjoys in a search will make it harder for you to read his communication.

Confront Distractions Head On - If your dog really has a problem with certain distractions, avoiding them is not going to make the problem go away. Rather, your dog needs some clear communication on what pays and what doesn't.

Some dogs respond well to a simple search exercise with three boxes: one containing the target odor, one blank, and one containing a high value food distraction (the food should be in a container within the box). Let the dog investigate the three boxes and pay him immediately for interest in the target odor box. If your dog wants to get the food in the distractor box, be patient and let him make the decision to leave the box and search for target odor. Do this a few times with lots of rewards for choosing the odor box, then add in several more blank boxes and watch your dog hone in on the target odor box without much waffling.

Some dogs show great progress working a search with 6-8x the number of distractor boxes to target odor boxes. Make sure to draw a diagram of your container search, and label all boxes clearly - you don't want to reward your dog for finding banana nut muffin! This exercise seems to work best if the target odor boxes stay put and the the distractor boxes move around. Again, if your dog is interested in a distractor, let him investigate and leave it on his own. If you drag him away while he's still trying to get to that rabbit pelt, he'll just pick up where he left off the next time he passes that distractor.

Be an Observer - Definitely take advantage of watching your dog in K9 Nose Work searches to see how he investigates a pee smell or food item differently from the target odor. But, also watch your dog in all other areas of his life. How does he look when checking out that tree on the corner that every dog in the neighborhood makes a pit stop at? What's his nose do when you set a tupperware container full of leftovers out on the table?

If you watch all the ways your dog investigates non-target odor scents, you won't have to wonder if that bag in the container search he froze on, then left, needs to be checked again.

And, while I feel for anyone who has had to make a false call on a distractor item, don't get too down or yourself. Your dog is not suddenly also alerting to corn on the cob or old gym socks. Most likely, you misread his initial signs and encouraged a second look at the item which then gave it some kind of value in your dog's world, and the two of you kept fueling the fire of false alert, until he gave you what looked like his behavior at odor, and you made a wrong call. Your dog doesn't get paid for your mistake, it's not suddenly a better gig to false on food and get nothing than it is to get rewarded for finding target odor. It is worth thinking about how your dog is different when working to and sourcing a target odor versus smelling distractors; pretty much every dog is different in some way.

Keep the Target Odor Valuable - Yes, it's good for our dogs to put the target odor in direct comparison with high-value distractors, but this works way better if the dogs already consider the target odor to be an easy-to-find source that consistently brings a reward. Make sure your search scenarios feature hides that promote clear communication from your dog. This doesn't always mean the search needs to be simple and the hides super accessible, rather, you and the dog need to be on the same wavelength regarding rewardable communication. If you're running searches with your dog and he routinely displays source odor behavior and/or gives a final response three or more times before reaching the actual source of the hide, you need to adjust your searches. This kind of practice won't help the team, especially during searches where distractors will be present. On the flip side, if your dog does searches that allow him to confidently work to source and allow you to meaningfully time rewards, he should have a strong desire to find odor in any situation.

When you & your dog are practicing K9 Nose Work and confronting distractions in the search (planned or unplanned), try to remember that you get more information when your dog investigates a distracting item or area, even though it may result in your dog peeing on a bush or pawing at a bag with potato chips in it. Practice is not a K9 Nose Work trial. Peeing in the search or false alerting on a distractor item does not mean your practice session - or your learning opportunity - is over. Take something positive from every search experience and use it to inform your training going forward. You'll never know when observations from a training "failure" will help you to read your dog and achieve competition success.

Happy Sniffing!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Learning From K9 Nose Work NACSW National Invitational Videos: Kristie & Jasper Part 1

Thanks again to Kristie & Jasper for sharing their videos with everyone! Each clip will show the raw search footage first and then analysis of key moments. Enjoy this awesome example of odor obedience and teamwork!

If you're looking for more details on each of these search scenarios, refer to the 3 posts featuring Muriel's National Invitational video, you can find them in the archive by scrolling down on the right hand side of this page.

The Moat - This is a fun search to watch. I asked Kristie what she was thinking as they passed the one hide Jasper didn't find...

Jeff McMahonYou hesitated as he passed the vice stand hide going towards the forklifts and going towards the table. Any idea what you were thinking at the time?

Kristie CervantezJasper stopped as if he smelled food or rabbit poop or something other than odor.  He was sniffing the dirt but not searching so I told him to keep going.

The Lily Pad 1 - This search highlights the teamwork at play when Kristie & Jasper search. She lets Jasper run the search, but she keeps an eye out for areas of interest that should get a second look, and tries to make sure no areas get missed.

JMThe high hide you block with your body, what was your thinking at the time Jasper was working over there?

KCI knew there was something in that area.  He was working the far wall and the smaller pallet quite a bit, I could tell by what he was doing he knew there was something there, he could just not quite source it.  It seemed like he worked over there for a long time.  Now that I see the video, I was blocking the source.  He decided to go to the other side of the search area, glad he did, and I figured we could be back, which we did.  He ended up finding another hide and I told him “let’s go back and figure out where that other one is”, thus guiding him right by another hide (I think).  By luck, I was in a better postion behind the short pallet and not blocking the odor this time.  He finally sourced it to the best of his ability and I trusted him and called it and we got it right.

JMYou respond well to his behavior changes, are you looking for something in particular that tells you he's definitely on to a hide?

KCJasper is a Labrador Retriever and he likes to retrieve.  When he is on an odor, he will do his best to try and retrieve it.  It is my best indication that he has found a hide.  Even if the hide is inaccessible, he will try to figure out a way to retrieve it and if he cannot, he will sit and look at me.

The Lily Pad 2 - Really nice search. Just watch & enjoy.

Large Warehouse Interior - Kristie didn't feel this was their best search, but I think they did quite well, and there is a lot to learn in the video.

JMGlad you went off-leash to start, I think he would have been fine, but maybe you wanted to save Jenn Brown from getting slobbered on!

KCThis was not one of my favorite searches.  I really wanted to go off-leash but was apprehensive because the area was not completely secure and so many of our classmates were sitting in front.  Jasper sometimes like to visit.  I am glad that I tried it and I suppose if the area were secure I may have let him continue..but I did not.

It was a very difficult area to search, especially on leash.  I was feeling pretty good when he got the bucket right away and than he found people and than he was headed for the doors and on went his leash.  I was really proud of how he worked the pallet hide and in hindsight, watching, I see that he was working the shipping crate also.

I do not remember much of that search except that it was so hot in there and he was working hard.  I remember trying to go down the aisles with him and at one point I was out in front of him, not a good position.  I lost track of what he had found and where he had been and I think that I may have just given up on any kind of strategy I may have had.  I am most disappointed in how I handeled this search.  I did not do my part and he was getting really hot. 

Small Warehouse Vehicles - This search Jasper finds everything he gets access to - the only hide he misses is on the far side of a vehicle he doesn't get to search.

JMHe's not on a vehicle to start the search, yet by working the space (esp wall opposite the SUV bumper) he ends up at the first odor pretty quickly. Did any part of you really panic when he ran in not searching a vehicle right away?

KC: Another bad habit that I have during a vehicle search is to pull to the vehicles if he starts searching the wall or not searching the vehicle.  During this search, I actually did not panic (for a change), I thought to myself “leave him alone..maybe he is working his way to the vehicle because the odor is bouncing off the wall”.  I trusted him and he was right.

JMBefore he finds the hide on the mini-van, he ducks under the rear bumper and checks a few times on the driver's side of the vehicle. You seemed to hold him on that side (hence the attempt to crawl under the rear of the van), was that because of the find on the SUV rear bumper being so close by?

KCThe rest of this search is a blur.  It went so fast.  I wish that I had done if off-leash.  I forgot that we had the option.  After he found the first one, I was just trying to remember where he had already been.  Everything started to look the same and the time went so fast.

JMHe misses the last hide because you didn't give him total access. Interesting that you went back to the area you'd covered several times rather than go check the one car that you'd barely checked - any thoughts on why you turned back to the area already covered?

KCAgain, lost track of where we had been and what he had already found.  It was fun though!

Vehicles Open Bay - This search was tricky for video cameras to capture, but there's a nice view of Jasper working a deep hide under the flatbed truck.

JMNice work on the drum hide under the flatbed.

KCIt is the retrieveing thing again.  Jasper is not afraid to go as far under a vehicle as he can to try and retireve a hide.  When he is working like that, I know he has found it, I just need to wait for him to let me know.

JMIn this search there are parts of the vehicles he doesn't pay much attention to, interesting that he misses the hide in the metal frame on the rear of the flatbed. You were moving pretty fast through the area. 

KCI have a bad habit of moving too fast in vehicle searches.  I need to slow down my pace a bit so that he will slow down his pace a bit thus not missing things because we go by too fast.  Funny at the end, he had his eye on my back pocket.  I guess he figured out where I was keeping his treats.  :)

More videos to come soon!

Happy Sniffing!