Ep. 102: There's More to Sniffing Success

Speakers:
Dianna L. Santos

When it comes to Scent Work, we work to to ensure our dog has solid odor recognition, that they find their hides valuable and are able to competently solve odor puzzles and source their hides both efficiently and effectively. However, to truly be successful, our dogs must also master a myriad of other skills which have nothing at all to do with searching.

In this episode, we delve into this topic, providing a few examples of the types of skills oftentimes brushed aside as unimportant when in truth they may be pivotal for the dog's or team's overall success.

A few of the resources you may want to look into to broaden your dog's skillset include:

TRANSCRIPT:

Welcome to the All About Scent Work Podcast. In this podcast we talk about all things Scent Work, that include training tips, a behind the scenes look at what your instructor or trial official may be going through and much more. In this episode, I want to talk about the importance of understanding all the various skills that your dog would need in order to be successful in Scent Work far beyond just finding the hide. So before we start diving into the podcast episode itself, let me do a very quick introduction of myself. My name is Dianna Santos. I'm the Owner and Lead Instructor for Scent Work University. This is an online dog training platform where we provide online courses, seminars, webinars, and eBooks that are all centered around Scent Work. So whether you're just getting started, you're looking to develop some more advanced skills you're interested in, trialing are already competing even at the upper levels, we likely have a training solution for you. So now that you know a little bit more about me, let's dive into the episode itself.


So in this episode I wanted to talk about what I think is a very important topic and that's understanding that there are so many skills that our dogs and ourselves may need to master to be successful in Scent Work and that some of those skills don't have anything to do with actually finding a hide, and that may sound very strange. So this is something that I've been attempting, I don't know if I'm succeeding but attempting to get through to people is there are so many skills that we may just take for granted, but we do actually need to ensure that our dogs and ourselves have so that we can be successful. Santos, lady, what are you talking about?

Basically what I've been trying to do over the last few months is to schedule some presentations and webinars and training resources to really underline this point. Case in point, I've been hosting Kayla Deaver and Samantha Winslow for a variety of different webinars. They're both accomplished trainers, competitors. They've competed to the highest levels of various organizations and you would think, oh, we're just going to be talking about trialing. We're going to be figuring out how can I get those placements and shorten up those times and make certain that I'm kicking butt at trial. And several of the presentations have been focusing on things that on its face, people are like, I don't need this, but it couldn't be further from the truth. So I've been again, extraordinarily fortunate that they as well as others have been humoring me in this venture. Were basically for Kayla and Samantha, some of the presentations they have done included Car Crate Crazy webinar, Geared Up for Success Webinar, Harnessing Joy webinar, the Floor is Lava Webinar, as well as the latest offering that they did for us Worth Waiting for Leveraging Staging Areas to Maximize Performance Webinar and all of these are excellent.

Again, if you ever have an opportunity to take a webinar, a presentation with Kayla and Samantha, definitely do so. They are very good at what they do, but on the outset, people may say, I don't need any of that stuff, or it doesn't have anything to do with scent work or it doesn't have anything to do with doing well trial and I could not disagree with you more. Let's break all this down. You have trained your dog to find, let's say birch, right? You have spent time imprinting birch. They think birch is pretty awesome. You have practiced in a variety of different search elements. So interior searches, exterior searches, container searches, vehicle searches, perfect. You have read over what the rules are for your given competition organization. If you're interested in trialing and you feel that you're ready to trial, great. I would say you have only just begun.
All those things that you've done up to this point are great. They're fantastic. I tip my hat to you, but that is not it. You have so much more to do, which again, I do not think is a bad thing. I think these are good things. Reasons to do more stuff with our dogs is good and ensuring that we are understanding how all these pieces of the puzzle fit together is exceedingly important. So let's start with the crate, like, oh, what the heck does the crate have to do with searching and getting my titles? Well, if you haven't attended a trial yet, I will let you in on a little secret. There is an awful lot of waiting at a trial. I have been to some trials where you were quite literally there all day long. You roll in at seven 30 in the morning, you are rolling out at six o'clock at night.

I've been to some other trials where it's been extraordinarily efficient, but you are still there. You're rolling it at seven 30 in the morning. Maybe you're rolling out at noon or one o'clock, which is very, very fast. But it's not as though you're coming in, you're taking your dog out of the crate, you're potting them, you're search their search and then you go home. That's not what happens. There's a lot of wait time and not only is there wait time, there is this on and off function that happens with scent work that can be very weird to dogs where searching takes an awful lot of mental and physical effort. It takes a lot of concentration on their part to try to figure out all their puzzles. So they have to be on in order to do that. They can't be sleeping and do well in their search.

They have to have everything together. So when they're getting ready to search, they have to be on. But then there's all this downtime where ideally they're recovering or they're basically recharging their batteries so they can do more searches, but that means that they have to have that on and off switch inside of their crate. They need to be able to go back into their crate and be able to kind of power down so they can recharge their battery and be ready to do more searching. None of that is possible if they don't find their crate a very good place to be or if they are so entranced or concerned by worried, by aroused, by, pick your word, by everything that's going on around them. Set more trials are a bustling thing. There's a lot of other dogs, there's lots of other people. There's a lot of commotion and stimuli.

Even if it's not the actual trial itself. Very few of these trial locations are in the middle of nowhere. Some of them are, but a lot of them, there's stuff going around at the trial site itself that potentially is completely new and novel to your dog. There could be construction going on. There could be all kinds of stuff that you're talking like, what's that one? What's that? What's that thing? And that's exhausting for them to do that. Again, if we were to just time it from seven 30 in the morning until six o'clock at night, that's an awful lot. And then we're expecting them to be at their peak performance. That's not going to happen. You're going to maybe do okay with your first search, but then you're going to start noticing diminishing returns as the day wears on. So having all of this stuff work out for you in your crate where your dog actually can say, okay, I'm going inside my crate and I'm just going to rest, ideally nap.

That's a really important skill and that is actually a skill that we have to train and practice put into context. We have to put a routine around it. We have to make certain that our dogs can do that in different locations because maybe right now you're using a crate when you are practicing at home, which is wonderful. I would highly gold star. But if you're not also using a crate routine when you're doing field trip searches, you're missing out. Just to use myself as an example, the little guy that I have now, he is a smooth fox terrier that I've had for a year already. It's crazy. But he is able to wait and stage inside of a crate totally fine when we are at home. As soon as I put him inside of his car crate, he screams a lot and it's gotten a little bit better.

We honestly haven't worked on it at all just because I don't have time. But I know that that is not a mental place that he would need to be in order to do well at his searches. He comes out of that car crate and he is on a whole other level. He is just eyes bugging out of his head and he is a mess. I wouldn't be able to get any kind of good performance out of him, and he would also be exhausted if we had to be there all day. On top of that, he'd be extraordinarily disruptive to other teams, which wouldn't be fair. So right now, as of this moment is in no way, shape or form ready to do anything, even remotely close to trialing in anything. He needs the skill of being able to deal with this car great, and I need to spend time in order to do that.

It needs to be a priority, which is just not right now because I don't have time. So we're not trialing. It's not on our schedule, but I understand that he doesn't have that yet. So I hope that makes sense that while he's an amazing searcher at home, he is incredible. He can do all kinds of wonderful searches and finds. He can find six foot hides. He can find inaccessible hides. He can do deep accessible hides. He can do lots of highs, singular highs. He can do everything, but it doesn't matter. We may be able to fit and match all the different requirements that are set up for a given competition rule book for a certain organization, but they're not holding the trial in my house. I have to go somewhere, and that means that we have to obtain the skill of being able to be okay and settling inside of our car crate because that's the one he would be in.

So having Kayla and Samantha do the Car Crate Crazy Webinar was actually wonderful, given me some ideas on top of what I'd be working on anyway, but I now know there are things that I need to work on. So that's just one example. Then you have the fact of equipment. So again, I can use my little guy as an example. He is very much a, let me just pull until the cows come home, just generally speaking, he really throws his shoulder in, so he has a harness on and with the harness, he doesn't pull. It's not a front clip harness, it's not a restrictive harness. It's just he learned on his own. If I'm wearing a harness, I'm not going to pull. But honestly, I think that the harness, he's just not a big fan of it. I have to do a little bit more experimenting to try to find one that he is actually comfortable in.
But when we're doing scent work, he pretty much runs naked. He runs inside the house, he runs inside my backyard and he's doing all this stuff off leash, which is great because I know he has some aversion to his equipment. I need to spend time making certain that I A, find equipment that he is not quite so uncomfortable in, and B, I need to spend the time making it so that equipment is actually a thing he can look forward to and c, ensure he can actually perform in it. So I'm not poisoning the game. And this is something that again, Kayla and Samantha talked about in their Harnessing Joy Webinar, but I've seen this myself as an instructor with clients where the dog kind of slinks into the search area. They do a big all full body shake. They're really super slow. They're stopping every two minutes.
They're scratching at themselves, they're doing displacement stepping. There's all this stuff. And if you ask 'em like, okay, in the next run they're practicing at home, they're filming for review from an instructor. I go, can you maybe take the harness off? It's usually a harness is an issue and can you just run that search again and is a completely different dog? So then you figure out, okay, the harness is a problem. Now we need to figure out can we make it so the harness isn't a problem? Could we potentially find a different type of harness? And then if we are going to use a different type of harness, how can we change a dog's opinion about it? The long and short of it is you have to go through all of those steps again of building skills so the dog can actually make that association that wearing this piece of clothing that very well may be a very important thing for their safety and also just for their physical health that that's not a bad thing.

So to try and help that make sense, why would I need to wear a harness for physical health? My prior boy Valor who was a Doberman, he developed some pretty serious arthritis in his neck. I couldn't use a collar. It just literally was not safe. So I had to use a body harness on him and he was fine with it. He was perfectly fine, but we had to spend time getting him used to that. He had never been in a harness before when he was with me and he took to it like a fish to water, he didn't have a problem with it. But again, with my little guy that I have now, he's like, oh, harness is gross. So we need to work on helping him change his opinion on those things. So again, some of the tips that Kayla Samantha covered inside their webinar is what we're working on, and I would urge other people to take a look at that as well.

So we have crates and we have harnesses that again, people can make the argument have nothing at all to do with scenting, have nothing to do with hunting, have nothing to do with finding hides, but I can absolutely tell you that they will affect your dog's ability to do so and they're important skills for that. In the same wavelength, the same realm, we have your dog's ability to navigate the space. So again, Kaylin and Samantha were able to do a webinar for us talking about having the dog learn skills of how they would be able to more confidently navigate slippery floors. In particular, being able to use footwear for the dog, acclimating them to that properly using pattern games in order to give them the confidence to do so. This webinar is absolutely fantastic. If you guys haven't seen it already, it's very well laid out.

Lots of steps for you to follow. It's really very well done. Big point to take away from it is that the dogs can be expected to do well in finding their hides that they very well may possess that skill in a room that has carpeted floor, right? If the room is rubber matting or fully carpeted, the dog is an amazing hunter. They understand the assignment, they have the skills to do the searches. They know that we want them to find highs. The highs are valuable to them, all that good jazz. But as soon as you put them into an environment that now they feel like I'm going to die because maybe they're going to lose their footing, maybe they're not sure about the depth. There are all kinds of reasons why slippery floors can be an issue. Suddenly they do not have the skillset anymore to do the thing that we're wanting them to do, which is find their hides.

So recognizing that, recognizing your dog is having this giant puzzle piece that's missing and then spending the time to work on that is very, very important. And to not just simply write it off like, oh, the dog is just being obstinate. No, the dog is struggling. The dog doesn't have what they need in order to do this. And again, people get very flummox like, oh, I don't understand. They can do it in some context, not in others. There's a reason for that and we need to break down why it should be a huge red flag to us. If our dogs can do searches sometimes and other times they can't, well why? There's got to be a reason why. And if there is and we want to figure out, well, how can we help them? If they're missing a skill, then we can help them learn that skill.

If it's a confidence issue, then we can build their confidence in those situations. Maybe it's a health issue. Maybe they are having issues with their site, potentially their site is starting to go and they're not really sure with the Roy floors, maybe there's different shadows and things, so we can help them overcome those things. We have to recognize that there is this difference between, in some situations they do great, they clearly understand what it is we're looking for. They have odor recognition, they have value in finding their hide. They have the skills to find that hide. They have the skills to work out that type of odor puzzle. They've been able to do this in all these other contexts. Why can't they do it in this one? And then we can break it down to small pieces again to identify where those gaps are and then fill them in with skills that literally may have nothing to do with hunting.

They're great on the hunting side, but there's the other skills that are so important that allow them to do the hunting. I'm hoping I'm starting to help this make more sense that we can't just concentrate solely on the dog being able to find hides. There's so many things that go along with that. So with that in mind of your dog, being able to navigate a space as an example where you may notice that your dog is able to do hides up to a certain height, but then once they get a little bit higher, now suddenly the dog may recognize where the hide is, but they're not sure how to communicate it to you. Or they may kind of recognize where the hide is, but then they get kind of worried or they come off of it or any slew of things that just show you there's something here.

Or there could be that the hide is in a certain space, maybe it's in a tight area or it's a deep accessible hide where they really got to kind of get their way in there and they're like, I'm not so sure I can do that. All of that is again, if we can just take a giant step backwards and take off our scent work blinders for a second, we can recognize a dog understands the assignment, they recognize odor, they understand there's value in odor. They know they're supposed to find the hide, but they're having trouble getting to it. They know approximately where it is, but now physically they're like, I don't know how to get there, or I don't feel like I can, or maybe I'm not sure how to get my body in there. All of this could be related to any number of things, but it could just be their ability to understand how their body works.

It could be that they don't have very good body awareness or they could just not have a lot of confidence of their body inside of a space. I've had clients that were trying to work a interior space that they had set up with a bunch of stuff and the dog, again, super solid, really amazing in their searches, but suddenly they got super slow and they would kind of go through and they weren't really sure where to go, and it just looked as though they weren't able to source the hide. If you were just to look at it and you say, oh, well the dog, they're not really that great of a hunter and that could not be further from the truth. The dog was an amazing hunter. And finally it dawned me, I'm like, I don't think the dog feels comfortable with all this stuff in there.

They don't know where to put their feet, basically. They didn't want to bump into anything. They didn't want to touch anything. So we took some of the stuff out and suddenly the dog boom could find their highway without a problem. Well, there you go, right? There's a perfect example. The dog understood the assignment. The hunting wasn't the problem. The environment was the problem, and the environment was highlighting an issue, a skill that we had to work on outside of scent work had nothing to do with hunting. We need to help them be comfortable using their body in different types of spaces. So there's been several presentations that I've been fortunate enough to host through Scent Work University that focus on this. Vicki Lovejoy did two webinars for us that I think you'd find helpful. One is the Elevation Elation Building and using Body Awareness Webinar, which talks just about that how we may be able to do, again, things that don't have anything to do with scent work, helping dogs learn how to potentially seek kite or build more strength in their backend or just confidence in using their backend to seek elevation. And then her second was shrinking space equals success webinar where same type of thing where it could be helping them work through smaller and smaller spaces in order to get to places. We could then weave this into searches once the dogs have the skills to do these things.

Additionally, I was very fortunate to host Donna Morgan Murray for a series of webinars that were focusing specifically on canine fitness. So she did things that were focusing on the whole life of the dog, so she calls it the Fitness for Life of your Dog Webinar. She also talked about how she be able to do things for senior dogs, keeping your senior dog fit to work and play, and also being able to do fitness exercises for your puppy. So again, highly recommend anyone interested in doing any kind of training, particularly competition with your dog. Definitely look into a canine fitness program because some of the issues you may be having could be related to the dog just simply not being fit in order to do those things. If you think about asking our dogs to, let's say do a search for an interior and there's a hide underneath the middle underside of a chair, pretty typical hide placement, but if you think of the dog, they have to come up and they have to duck underneath that chair in order to get to the actual hide.

That could be hard. That could be hard for some dogs. Elevated hides, a lot of people expect their dogs to shift their weight onto their backend to seek height. Again, it's not a requirement, but that's an expectation for lots of people. The dog may even want to do that, right? They understand it's about source, they're trying to communicate, but if your dog is weak on their backend, you may notice that they kind of balk at those hides because they can't physically do it. So then it causes all these other issues. So again, just another example of how your dog may absolutely be an amazing hunter. They understand the part about the hide. They understand this part about hunting. Those skills are great, but there's all these other skills that we may have to work on and we should be working on. And I personally think that a lot of teams don't focus on, they just assume they're just going to organically happen.

Can it organic organically happen for some teams? Sure. Is it common? No. And you may actually concentrate on drilling or repeating certain types of odor puzzles, thinking the odor puzzle or the comprehension of understanding that odor puzzle is a problem where it isn't really, you're missing some of these other skills. Another thing I would definitely recommend that people take a look into, understanding skills don't exist inside bubbles. They don't exist inside vacuums. If your dog is developing a skill in one realm of their life, it's going to bleed over and affect all realms of their lives. So that's why I really encourage people to look for how can I build skills completely outside the context of scent work that could benefit what we're doing in scent work? And in that vein, Lori Timberlake put together a fantastic program talking about Canine Parkour through our sister platform Pet Dog U.

She has two courses that she has out Intro to Canine Parkour if you're brand new to it, and then the intermediate level if you've already done some canine parkour before. But she did this with her own clients who were doing Scent Work with her own dogs that were doing very well in Scent Work. And what she noticed is that the dogs were now even more confident in their searches because they had a better idea of what to do with their bodies. A lot of our dogs are kind of pulling themselves around in life. They forget they have a backend, the majority of their weight is in their front end and the backend just kind of goes along for the ride. And again, they can also get really worried where they're like, well, if I step on this thing, what's going to happen if I brush up against this thing?

What's going to happen, particularly for your smaller dogs, now that I have a smaller dog, they're kind of at the mercy of big people life. Things fall, we trip and fall, we step on them. It's just terrible. But that can cause issues where I'll even notice with my little guy, if he happens to be standing next to my computer chair that I practically live in and I move something on my desk, depending on how I move it, he may go, oh, is that going to fall on me? So we make big games about that, that I'll move stuff around and just treats fall from this guy. Yay for things moving on the desk, a huge clutz. I drop things all the time, so I need him to be okay with that because it happens all the time. And he's gotten much, much better about it because he's like, oh yeah, you're just a clutz.

But moreover than not, treats fall from the sky and wonderful things happen and we have a party. But the point being is doing things like canine Procore that don't have anything at all to do with searching can absolutely benefit you and your dog when you are doing your searches. Like, okay, that's fine, whatever. Maybe I'm not convincing you quite so much. Another thing to think about if you want to just keep it within the realm of cent work, right? So you are doing cent work, you're doing all this training, you're building up all these skills surrounded around searching and you're getting ready to trial or you're already trialing. Let's think about the trialing experience, right? So you're saying, I'm fine. My crate behaviors, they're fine. Perfect, huge congratulations. That's amazing. My equipment is fine. The dog is fine. Great. That's also big gold star. My dog doesn't care about the flooring. They're perfectly fine with it. So far you are doing amazing. I am very happy for you. But you weren't leveraging your staging areas in training and you're like, I don't even know what that means.

So when you're going to a separate trial, you are bound in almost any organization to have points in time when you and your dog are not inside your actual creating area. You're not by your car, you're not by their crate. You're actually in this other area on the trial grounds waiting. Your dog is geared up, you are geared up to go and you're waiting to go into your search areas and sometimes you have multiple stages. You are going to wait in this spot, then you're going to wait in this spot, and then you're going to wait in this other spot before you actually get to search. And there's reasons behind this. A lot of it, quite honestly, is just to help with the flow of the trial. They're trying to keep everything going, and a good way of doing that is to have these staging areas.

Why is this an issue? Why is this something that you think that I need to be training for Santos Lady? Well, this time when you're inside your staging area can quite literally make or break your search. That may sound bombastic, that may sound extreme, but it's not. It's actually very true, and I have experiences myself personally, I am not the best competitor. I'm a nervous competitor. I get stuck in my head and I'm not a very good teammate to my dog when that happens. So I can remember this one search trial in particular, I was working as a trial staff member inside scoreroom. So I'm a volunteer that has to run first so that everyone else can run. And because of the way my brain works, I go, oh, I'm holding up the whole trial. This is literally my job. I just need to do this quick and then everyone else can go.

No one is rushing me, no one is upset. They haven't even done the briefing yet. It's fine. But because of the way I am, I'm already stressed out like, oh God, so whatever. I'm stressing when I shouldn't be. I get to my first staging area and I'm trying to breathe as best as I can, and I'm doing this with my wonderful very patient and very wonderful Doberman who is just a saint, and he's totally fine. He doesn't care. He's not interested in anything else. He's just hanging out with me and I'm okay. So far I'm in staging area one and I'm just trying to do my breathing, like, okay, we're going to be fine. And I thought, I heard you can move on to the second staging area. So I start to go and the volunteer goes, wait, wait, wait. I'm like, oh, and they weren't talking to me.

They were talking to someone else or said something else or whatever. I misheard not a big deal. I literally took two steps. They were mad. No one was upset. The world hadn't ended. Santos thinks that I have just ruined everything. So I slink back into my staging area and now I'm holding up the trial. I've made everyone mad. Oh, it's just a mess. I am just curling into myself on the inside going, why am I here? I just want to go home. Great. So I'm a mess. I'm a mess in staging area one, I then do finally get called for staging area two, but now I'm gun shy. I don't know if I've actually heard them that I should go to staging area two. So I'm kind of doing this forward, backward, forward backward, forward backward. So now they are kind of upset. They're like, hello, we need you to go.

I'm like, okay, I just want to go. Let me go into the trailer and do my stuff on the computer and not do this anymore. And people wonder why I don't want the trial. So off I go to my second staging area and I am a mess on the inside. No one can tell on the outside. On the outside I look fine on the inside. I just let me go home. I just pack up and just leave. I'm there in the second staging area and now my dog is like, are you going to be okay? Are you going to be able to do this at all? So he's checking in on me an awful lot because my stress is through the roof. So now I'm trying to let him know, no, I'm fine. And he's like, you can't lie to me. I live with you.

So back and forth and back and forth between us. We finally get to go in to our search area and it was an outdoor exterior search. We have two hides to find. It was an AKC trial, and he goes in and he immediately goes to work, finds his first hide immediately. Perfect, fantastic. He goes over and he finds his second hide. I know he's found it, but I'm so stuck in my head. I'm trying to think through what are the parameters for this level? Is this even possible? I don't really know what's happening. I can't, cannot function. I can't function enough to call alert, even though he's pointed it out beautifully and he's pointed it out and he kind of looks at me and he points it out again. He is like, maybe I'm supposed to do something else. So he checks. The whole search area confirms there's nothing else there.
Goes back to the hide. I haven't called yet. Still I don't call it because now I'm like, well, now am I allowed to call it? Of course you're allowed to call it your dog alerted. Good grief. He goes over and double checks the first hide. He's like, we're finding these things right? And he goes back to the hide. He hasn't found. I timed out and I knew where he had found it. And the volunteer again, they meant, well, why didn't you call it? He showed you three times? So now I really just let me go home. No, I failed my dog and he's fine. He doesn't care. What is the point of this story other than to show that I'm a neurotic mess. Those staging areas I needed to work on what I needed to do to be a better teammate for my dog. If I hadn't been such a mental case, quite literally, I would've passed that search.
But more than passing that search, I would have been a better teammate to my dog. The fact that he was able to still perform while I was such a mess is just a testament to how amazing that dog was. But there's a very good chance that he wouldn't have. There's a very good chance that he would've just said, you know what? Searching is not important right now. The most important thing in my life, this lady person, she needs me because she's about to pass out, so I don't care about these little hide things. Let me go take care of her. So a very long drawn out story to try to emphasize that on both ends of the leash. Those staging areas are really important because I'm giving you a human example of how if I had spent the time building up a routine of things that I could do as a handler before I ever went to the staging area, and then when I was there to ensure that I was mentally where I needed to be, then all that other stuff would've been avoided.

The same applies for the dog. So if they're given something to do, if they have a routine, if you can control their arousal, whether bringing it up for a dog who may need that or bringing it down for a dog who's already in the sky somewhere that can ensure that they can perform, and that's exactly what Kayla and Samantha were talking about inside their worth waiting for webinar where they're talking all about the importance of doing these kinds of things for our staging areas, but that we should be practicing this stuff in training. That's the most important piece. You don't want to think about this stuff and then just throw it at yourself and your dog at trial for the very first time. You want to practice these things first. This is just scratching the surface, and this is what I've been trying to get across to people is there was a misconception, and I think there still is, that scent work is unquote easy.

That, oh, the dogs just once they figure out what they're hunting for is great. It's a lot more complicated than that. Our dogs are amazing. They're incredible with their sense of smell. What they do is almost magical. What they need to acquire as far as their older library, as Judith Guthrie likes to put it, or their array of skills that they need to have in order to tackle the searches is great. It's very varied. It is a large spectrum of things that they need to work through in order to do well in all different types of searches. Then we need to generalize those skills. So it's not just I can search inside my living room. I can search inside the living room, the kitchen and the bedroom and the garage, and I can do it at the friend's house, and I can do it at the training center, and I can do it at some dog friendly business as an example.

I can do it no matter what the time of day, no matter the type of weather. And that we are also learning as handlers and trainers how to design those searches to get certain types of results to develop and to test certain skills to ensure that we have a very thoughtful type of progression for our training. That in and of itself is much more involved and complicated than I think people give credit for. It's completely doable. I think it's really fun and exciting. That's why we were able to build out a whole platform just talking about network. There's so many different ways that we can approach this, but people tend to fall into the pitfall of everything is through the lens of scent work, and that's not true. There are so many different skills that our dogs need in order to do any part of the scent work piece, and some of it have nothing at all to do with hunting, and they have nothing at all to do with hides really.

And I've just tried to give you some examples in this podcast episode, and that's why we've offered those different types of things through Scent Work University and why I promote those kinds of resources when I happen upon them. If there's something that we don't offer but someone else does, look at them, check 'em out, learn from those things. Figure out how you can incorporate those skills into your program because the more that you can generalize those types of skills, the better on both ends of the leash. Are you able to hone your ability to read your dog, not just in the context of scent work, but being able to tell when your dog needs help, when your dog is tired, when your dog is asking you a question, when your dog is queuing off of you, do you understand what your body is doing in any given moment?

What your communication is to them, what they perceive that to mean? How can you minimize those cues? How can you maybe change the emotional attachment you may have to certain situations like hearing a no? Michael McManus did a fantastic webinar for us called Conquering Competition Stress, where he talks about how it's important for us to desensitize ourselves to those things, to have these types of activities and games for handlers where we can overcome the baked in emotional negative responses we may have to quote unquote failure where it's not really failure, it's literally just information. It's not as though someone says no, and they just take away everything from you in your entire life. That's not true. You may feel that way, but it's not true. You still have everything. You may just not have that title on that day, or you may not have that qualifying score, and that's okay.

It's just information for things that you can do. And that's what I'm hoping in 2024 that if I can do one thing in this year, I'm hoping that I would be able to get across the importance for everyone to better generalize what it is that our dogs and ourselves and our teams may need, even if we're looking at scent work, right? Even I'm really dedicated to Scent Work. I love scent work that there are things outside of those little highs that they're finding and outside of snipping and hunting, there's so many other things that can be beneficial for the dog and for ourselves and for the team that building those things is not a waste of time. It's not distracting, it's not whatever. It's actually really important and it can elevate the whole sniffing experience because now we can see with even clearer eyes, my dog is an amazing hunter.

We've done all this work on hunting, and their hunting is shifts kiss, but now we can work on these other things to elevate their hunting even more. They're not held back by their inability to be settling in their crate or their aversion to their equipment or their concern about the flooring or their inability to understand that they have a backend or their handler being a complete mental case or not being able to use their staging areas in a proper way, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And again, this is just scratching the surface. So I'm hoping that I've kind of made it clear the kinds of things that we should be looking forward to as anyone who is interested in scent work, to really generalize what it is we could potentially be working on and to keep an eye out for what we're going to be offering through Scent Work University going forward.

Because I am going to be putting together working with all the wonderful instructors who partner with us to continue putting out these kinds of resources that are these integral, very crucial skills that may not have absolutely anything at all to do with hunting, but can elevate the hunting, if that makes any sense. With that, I want to give a very special shout out to all of the instructors who have shared their expertise with us over the years. It has been absolutely incredible. We have been on a hiatus, as you may have noticed for our podcast, simply because I have been so incredibly busy and I'm very, very behind on everything, trying my best to get back on schedule. But one of the reasons why I've been so behind is because we have been graciously supported by so many wonderful instructors who are sharing their expertise with us.

And I am incredibly thankful for everyone who does. So being able to share their knowledge and expertise with all of you is something that I wanted Scent Work University to be. I could have made this a platform like, Nope, you'll just hear from Santos Lady and Santos Lady only, and this is the way to go. And that's so antithetical to who I am. I know that there are people who are, they have different experiences than I do. They have different skill sets than I do. They are more accomplished than I am. They may have different concentrations that I do. I understand from the very beginning of my career, the value of learning from lots of different people and having a very open approach, being able to look for those magical golden nuggets in what everyone can offer. And I'm incredibly fortunate with all of my fellow colleagues who have joined us in providing these various, whether it's the courses or the webinars or the seminars or the eBooks, they've been so gracious with sharing their expertise.

I know that I have grown and that I have improved as an instructor, and I am looking forward to continuing to do so. So just taking the last bit of this podcast, saying thank you, thank you to everyone who has shared their expertise with our clients through our platform. We look forward to many, many more. Our schedule is going to be very, very busy. And I also just want to take a really quick moment to thank all of my personal clients who have been so incredibly patient with me over the last couple of months, and I have not been as fast as I have wanted to be. I have yet to clone myself. I'm trying, but I've been trying to do so many different things in so many different directions at once. But I really do appreciate your patience with me. But I hope that you have been appreciating all of the various training services that we have been offering, and I just want to thank everyone for inviting us along on your sniffy journey, and thank you.

But with that being said, we are going to be offering our podcasts more regularly, once again, and I do apologize for a little bit of the hiatus, but we do have some episodes that are already in the tank that we just have to get finalized. We have some outside speakers that we'll be featuring as well, because again, we don't want to just hear from Santos lady who wants to do that. If there's anything in particular that you guys are interested in, please let me know. Always happy to make certain that we are offering what you guys are interested in. If there's a topic that you're like, I think this would be a good podcast episode, but I also want to do some training around this, please let me know. Quite literally the last, basically six months of 2023, 99.9% of what we offered was literally because people had requested it, or it was because we determined through video reviews or working with them or whatever the case may be, that that's what they actually needed. That was what their team needed to be successful. So please let me know, and when you make a suggestion, we give you a gift because again, we want to offer what you guys need. Alright guys. But thank you so very much. I know this was a long one, but we, we've been gone for a little bit. Alright, thank you so very much. Happy Training. We look forward to seeing you soon.


Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Join Our Newsletter

JOIN NOW