Ep. 79: Allure to Rush

Aug 29, 2022

The allure to rush, whether it be while training or trialing, can be so incredibly strong. Yet the fallout is very real. Rushing can cause a huge multitude of issues that will take an immense amount of time and effort to undo and fix. Worst still, the results of rushing can cause frustration, confusion and a slew of other negative emotions to enter into the picture, chipping away at the relationship you have with your dog as you play the sniffing game.

In this episode, we discuss why people may rush, the various issues rushing can cause and what your instructor may be going through when you choose to rush against their best of intentions and advice.


Dianna L. Santos (00:00):
Welcome to the All About Scent Work Podcast. In this podcast we talk about all things Scent Work, that includes training tips, a behind scenes look at what your instructor or trial official may be going through and much more. In this episode, I wanna talk about the allure to rush.

Before we start diving to 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, Dog Sport University and Pet Dog U. These are online dog training platforms that are designed to provide high quality dog training instruction and we're very fortunate to have a client base that's worldwide for set university. In particular, we provide online courses, seminars, webinars, and e-books that are all designed to help you achieve your separate training goals. Whether you're just getting started in Scent Work, looking to develop some more advanced skills, or if you are interested in trialing, we have a training solution for you. So now that you know a little bit more about me, let's dive into the podcasts episode itself.

So in this episode I want to talk about the alert for people to rush when we're talking about Scent Work, particularly when we're talking about people who are interested in trialing. But this also just means rushing as far as what it is you may be asking yourself or your dog to do when you are doing Scent Work. This is a rather large topic, , and it also can be a pretty emotional one too. I just want to put it out there that it's understandable why people would fall into this pitfall. And as an instructor it is very challenging to try to always be in a position of, okay guys, let's take a deep breath and let's pump the brakes. Because obviously the response is, will you just want me to be in this level or to, for my purposes, you just want me to take more classes or you want me to take more webinars or whatever else cuz you just want more of my money and that couldn't be further from the truth.

, I want to ensure that you and your dog actually have the skills so that you can both be successful with whatever it is that you're trying to do, whether it's trialing or not. And I know that rushing ahead can cause a lot of issues. So let's talk about the issues that rushing can cause to start with. First of all, it can give you a false sense of security that you and your dog are actually prepared when you're not. When we're talking about trialing in particular, I would say pretty much across the board for all the various competition organizations that are available, at least here in the United States, you could probably get by just fine for at least the entry level of competition, maybe even the one above that with some of the organizations, even if you're rushed. And that can really cause a lot of issues because that may not actually be indicative of what you and your dog are doing together as a team.

It may not be indicative of the all the skills that you need to do well in the level above that . So it's very possible that you can, as an example, fly through AKC Scent Work, novice and advanced and then suddenly find, wow, we're having a really hard time. We see this all also a lot in NACSW where you may get your NW1, you may get your NW2 and then people languish in NW3. There's just a really big jump from some of these levels and that's why again, taking your time and really developing all of the skills that are needed on both ends of the leash is so important. And that involves learning and learning takes time. And it's not just the learning for your dog. You have to do learning too. And even if you have lots of experience just in dog training or if you even have lots of experience in Scent Work, you could have been doing this for years with other dogs, you now have to apply all of that knowledge to this dog.

Again, this gets so complicated so quickly and I get it. I really do understand the alert to rush. There's lots of different reasons why people may wanna rush, particularly when we're talking about trialing. Maybe they are working with friends either in a class or they're just working together and maybe one of the friends decided to go to trial, right? And now everyone else is kinda like, oh, now we're kind of missing out , we wanna go trial too. And maybe it was just a really end exit thing of, okay, sure we'll all enter into the trial and the the thing that you'll hear is, oh, you know, it doesn't matter if we cure or not, we're just gonna have fun together. And you know, sure enough, the day comes like, I really do want a cue . And then if you do, wow, is that addicting, right?

We love those yeses, those yeses and cues and the titles and the ribbons are great and now you want some more. So then you keep brushing more, right? It's, it's just kind of feeds on itself. So there's that possibility. Then you have the possibility that you're already competing in other dog sports with maybe even this dog, right? And you guys are going, you're trying and you're having a good time and now you wanna be able to have the good time with Scent Work too, right? Particularly for things like a AKC Scent Work where you could potentially be at a trial that's offering other types of events, you know, obedience or confirmation or something. There may also be a set trial going on at the very same time so you can kind of like ping pong back and forth, or within the same weekend they're offering the same type of events.

Then it's almost like, of course I would be entering into the set trial, why wouldn't I? I'm already gonna be competing in X, Y, or Z. So there's that. Then there are the people who are coming into Scent Work after reaching a fair amount of accomplishment or they've gone through the levels and they've really had a great time in another dog sport, but maybe their dog had to retire from that dog sport and it could have been a pretty sudden retirement, you know, maybe it's an injury or something like that. So this person is very accustomed to, you know, going to trials fairly regularly in this other sport and they had gone up the levels and, and they're just kind of in a rhythm and now they're doing Scent Work well now they wanna be able to do that same thing with Scent Work .

And it could be a real big adjustment to be, okay, I was trialing every weekend or every other weekend or whatever and now all of a sudden we're not trialing at all. Like that can be a really big mental shift for the person. Then you also have the fact that now that there are so many organizations, at least here in the United States, there's lots of different options to trial, which has actually made the alert to rush, I think, worse. Whereas before when it was just NACSW that there was like this, I have to get into this trial because it's the only one that's gonna be in my area for maybe months or years or whatever else, and I don't know when I'm gonna have another chance. So I'm gonna do as much work in preparation that I can to get into this trial and have a hope and a prayer of passing it.

But now that there are a lot more opportunities, which again, more opportunities is not bad, but because it's kind of everywhere now there it seems to be a higher tendency for people to want to rush. I don't know what the correlation is, but it's definitely there. There is a correlation. I'm just not sure exactly what the connection is. don't know if it's just because more people know about it. I don't know if there's more accessibility, so they don't wanna lose out on that opportunity. I'm not really sure. But the point is, is that regardless of the reason the fallout for rushing is exactly the same, you are assuming that your dog understands something because they found that hide one time in one training session as an example. That doesn't mean they actually understand it. You have to be able to show them that odor puzzle in a bunch of different contexts where there are other hides in the space where there's that odor puzzle in all the different search elements where you're doing things in familiar locations, in unfamiliar locations, when you run it on leash, when you run it off leash, where then are distractors present when there aren't distractors present when there's different weather.

Like again, I'm only brushing the surface as far as the types of things that we should be doing in our training, but all of that is learning that the dog absolutely needs. But again, that's only one part of the equation. You have to learn a whole lot as well. You're a very important part of the team and by rushing ahead, you're kind of chipping yourself as a handler because you're not taking the time to hone your eye as far as understanding what your dog may be communicating to you in a search. You're not figuring out maybe how to use your leash or your long line effectively. You're not learning how to handle within the actual search so that you're supporting your dog. You're not hindering your dog, you're not figuring out all the mental management that you may need to do, particularly if you're interested in trialing of going through the various searches, having that on off button of waiting and waiting and waiting to search and suddenly you're doing a bunch of searches and you're back to waiting, all these various things that again, there's a lot to learn and that just takes time.

So rushing ahead is problematic cuz then you could be learning things that you don't want to be learning , you could be learning bad habits, you could be developing superstitious behaviors, you could be creating really bad associations with things. You could be creating history that now you have to kind of chip away at so that you can develop better skills and habits. It's kind of a mess. But for me as an instructor, what is so heartbreaking, I guess is when I try to explain this to everyone and their response is, oh well you know, I wanna make sure that I maximize on the time because you know, I wanna make sure that that we're, we're getting everything, we're checking off all our boxes on our wishlist as it were, or our bucket list. And because look, this other person, they were able to go all the way from starting at the very beginning and they got their NW3 elite as an example and they did all that within a year and a half.

I wanna be like that. It's like, ugh. Okay, well let's break this down. First of all, everyone's journey is absolutely different. I don't care if they have the same dog, same type breeder dog that you do. I don't care what they post on social media, you do not know what that person is doing off of social media. You don't know how often their training, you don't know what their experience level is going into this. You also don't know how much they're traveling to get those titles that matters. There are people who quite literally travel the entire country of the United States getting their titles cuz they have a date in mind. I am going to get a title by this date cuz that's important to them. That's neither here nor there, but that's a fact. So if you are telling me that you do not want to get an RV and travel tens of thousands of miles in a year to get a title by a certain date, but you still wanna get the title by a certain date, yeah, this is probably not gonna work out too well.

If you also don't want to be training seven days a week if you don't want to be doing your job, working really late and then coming home and then doing a bunch of intense training with your dog all of the time, then yeah, like the, these are the things that are just, I wish I had better way of conveying to clients. It's like guys, like we cannot be comparing ourselves particularly off of things you see in social media. You're not getting the full picture and it doesn't matter. , this whole thing of, oh, I gotta get it within a year. Why they're not going anywhere. And also for an organization like NACSW, you title out, you literally title out, you cannot compete anymore. So now you've rushed through and now you can't do the trials that you may have liked and enjoyed so much.

That's kind of poopy . And there are people who absolutely complain about that loudly and they say, oh, you don't know I'm out. Like, yeah, but you also rushed be like, you can't have it both ways. You can't say, oh, I wanna be able to get my title by X date, but oh now I did and now I'm mad. Like make up your mind . But even for other organizations where maybe you can stay in, maybe you can, you know, stay in different levels, maybe you can go down levels, whatever else. I think that's fine. But I know that these things aren't going anywhere. If anything, there's gonna be more opportunities to do trialing and to get ribbons and to get different accolades and everything else. That's all fine. And then there are people who are like, well I wanna make sure that I'm maximizing on the time with my dog.

I have to tell you from personal experience that trialing may not be the way of doing that. So I'll just share this very quickly. You can take what you like with it. I had lots of plans with my boy Valor and he was six years old and I had planned that we were gonna be doing all these various things and then I found out that he had terminal cancer and all of those were immediately next . They just all went away. Now could I have said, okay, we are going to jam pack your calendar and we're gonna enter into every single trial for every different dog's sport that we do because we've only got a little bit of time left, I guess. But for me, I look at trials from the dog's perspective. And it's not that he didn't like trialing, he did, he enjoyed it.

But if I'm talking about seconds and hours, minutes and days that I was holding onto with him, when we're at a separate trial, he's in his crate, we come in, we do a search for maybe a couple of minutes if that, more often than that, a couple of seconds , and then he's back in his crate again and I'm just on my phone working. That's not quality time, that's not what I wanted. Our last few, however long we were going to have be. Instead we went to the beach and he had no rules applied to his life. So you want food that I'm eating, you can have whatever it is you want to take a walk around the block and you wanna pull like there's no tomorrow. Okay, you wanna pee on everything, great, you wanna chase lizards, be my guest , whatever you wanted to do, little dog, you can absolutely do that.

And he loved it. He had the best time. And basically I just tried to rearrange my life. So even more so than it already was, but everything was about him during those few months. I don't even know if it was months. It was a very short period of time that we had left together and I wanted it to be about that. I wish I'd even done more. I wish that I hadn't. I wish I'd really just taken a sabbatical from work and I just sheltered. But my big is that I always put work first and foremost and it's something that I will feel guilty about till the day that I die that I did not just say, you know what, we're just gonna put a pause on all this stuff, you know, for the sake of my dog. But the point being is that I don't think that me trying to jam in all those trials would have been the quality time with him.

Oh, we are making memories. I guess for me, it just didn't equate. It just didn't equate at all. So the reason why I'm bringing that up is you absolutely can have everything taken away from you in an instant. So that doesn't mean that you should be rushing and making that journey really messy. Instead, it should be enjoying the whole of the journey, allowing the dog to really learn, allowing yourself to learn, allowing you both to really revel in everything that you are experiencing and undertaking and and learning together. And knowing that, yeah, it's not gonna be a straight line. There's gonna be, oh, we're doing great. Oh wow, we're really struggling with this . And that's just part of it. That should be part of the fun of it. But I have to tell you that as an instructor, when I have these conversations with clients and I try every which way that I possibly can to underline how insidious rushing can be, how easy it can be, fall to fall into this pitfall, the issues with it, why you should be taking a little bit more time, ensure that your dog is learning, ensure that you're learning all this stuff.

And they kind of go, ah-huh. And then they go off and they rush anyway. And then things that again, I could foresee were going to happen because it's not that I'm, you know, omnipotent, it's because that's whatever happens with everybody. I feel awful. I feel like such a failure as an instructor because my job as a teacher is to let my clients know, hey, you know, there's a big hole coming up, let's avoid that hole. And I can explain what the hole is, I can explain what's in the hole and oh, here's these other paths that we can take to go around and we can just turn around and go another way, whatever. And if they still end up in the hole, to me, that's my fault. could have tried everything to prevent them from getting into the hole, but they're still there and now I need to try to figure out how to get them out.

But I just wish that people understood, at least for me personally, I would assume that other instructors feel this as well. That it's such a huge hit on me where I'm like, okay, well clearly I am not shaped out to be a good instructor. because I am not conveying is the way that that is effective apparently. And you know, it causes, you know, a whole string of depression and you know, I'm depressed anyway. But then it's like a couple of days, oh okay, well now I need to quit. I need to close a business, need to just wait for my heart to give out and you know, then I can stop being a burden to the world. Like it's, it's bad that's saying that, you know, hopefully no other instructors go through that kind of downward spiral. But the reason I'm saying any of that is to underline how helpless sometimes I can feel to be like, I just want the best for you and your dog.

This isn't about money. Like you don't have to ever do any training, pay training with me again. But just understand the concept , that I don't want you guys to be going down a briar patch unnecessarily where you could have just pumped the brakes for a little bit and really ensure that the dog understands what it is that they're doing. You understand what you're doing, enjoy the journey part. And then all these other stuff as far as, particularly as far as trialing is concerned, it's just the cherry on top. But if you rush, it can cause a lot of problems. So to wrap this up, I understand why people, or some of the reasons why people may want to rush. And again, this isn't just about trialing, it could also just about be doing the the game for yourself. You know, playing on your own, playing with friends and going, oh well you know, we don't need to, you know, break this up into smaller steps.

We're gonna go from, you know, step A all the way to step Z because we think that it's fun or you know all they can do it or whatever. And then when the dog struggles or it's kind of messy or other things happen, then you get upset. It's like, I know , that's why we, we tell you like take these smaller steps instead. So I get it, I understand the alert, but just know that I am not promoting people to take their time because I want them to be poor . I'm not promoting people to take their time because I want them to spend more money with me. That has nothing to do with it. I don't want them to be stuck in a situation where they've rushed ahead and now they're in a place where all these holes are showing themselves in their training and that's all eating away at the relationship they have with their dog.

And it's causing them as a handler to do some weird stuff as a handler. Superstitious behaviors. They're building up a negative association, different history and habits that now you have to fix. It could be demotivating to the dog and it's just all gross and it's all avoidable. All these things are challenging enough, uh, on their own when we aren't making it harder simply by how we approach it. So I hope that everyone at least gives us a thought and understand there's a lot of different ways that we can fall into this pitfall. Particularly people who have multiple dogs. If you've gone through a whole bunch of training and everything else with one dog, they've gone through all the levels, they're doing great, everything is fantastic. You've done that whole journey and it may have been over a long period of time, the whole lifespan of the dog and now you have another one.

You have to remind yourself that you're starting all over again. And that can be really hard , but it's true, right? And you are also starting over for you. Like you got to where you are with dog A, you now have to start all over again with dog B and that's not a bad thing. I think it's a great thing cuz now you have an opportunity to use all the skills that you've learned, but now develop new ones. I hope that people take this stuff to heart that and at leaves for me, if anyone ever listens to the podcast or they work with me or anything else, please know , all of my training, my goal with my training is that you don't have to work with me forever. I want you to then take the skills that I may provide to you and then go off and be a little baby trainer of your own and then go off and fly, fly away little bird.

Like, I'm not looking for you to have to be, you know, beholden to me forever and just, oh, just give me your money forever. That's not what I want. That's not the purpose. To me, that's not the goal of a teacher. The goal of a teacher is to give the student the skills that they need so they can go off and do things. And if that's after one time of working with me, if that's after no time's working with me, just working with, you know, listening to the podcast and not giving anybody up, that's great. I don't care . So please, if ever someone is listening to me and I'm like, Hey, you know, why don't we, you know, take a break or let's pump the break. So maybe we should break this down to smaller pieces. It's not because I'm sitting there going, okay, well now I'm gonna have you sign up for all these things and take these this money away from you.

That has nothing to do with it. It's because I wanna ensure that you and your dogs are successful. And I'm going to assume that that outlook is the same for most if all of my colleagues that we just want you and your dogs to do well. So I hope that this helps . I don't know if it does, but I just want people to at least think about these things that the alert to rush, again, whether you're trialing or not, is there, it's very strong, it's easy to fall into. It is riddled with issues. Comparing yourself to other teams, particularly stuff that you see on social media is not a good idea. at all. Putting dates on things I don't think personally is a good idea. That's just not the way that learning works. But everyone's personality is different and that's fine. But just make sure that you do something that's fair to you and your dog.

And if you're noticing that, hey, you know, things aren't going the way that I had hoped, or eh, things are looking a little messy, it could very well be that you just went too fast on something that because your dog did a search once you thought that they got it, but really they don't. They did that one search well, which was great, but now we need to do that in a bunch of other context. , maybe you did something once and you did it well, that's great. Well now you need to do it in a bunch of other contexts. So I hope that stuff makes sense, but as always, I wanna hear from you guys. , what were your thoughts? What are your comments? And let me know if there are any other topics you guys are interested in us talking about. I am reaching out to our instructors to do a couple of round tables with them about a variety of different important topics that came up. Really interesting conversations. I'm looking forward to having. We're gonna be continuing our spotlight series where we talk to other individuals or businesses about how they're giving back to the separate community. And we're also gonna be continuing our series about the participants of Cyber Scent Work. Fun, fun, fun,

But thank you guys so much for listening. Really appreciate it. Happy training. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

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