Ep. 108: Tale of Squeezing in a Training Session

Mar 15, 2024


Dianna L. Santos

We are all incredibly busy, fluttering around doing a million things at once. How often have you found yourself trying to squeeze in a Scent Work training session? "I've got a few minutes...let's do a quick search!"

In this episode, Dianna explains how one such "I can do this quick!" training session went completely off the rails, how breathing and staying mindful would have been a far better solution yet the learning she was able to walk away with.

Click here to learn about the Let's Get Inspired: Creative Searches program.

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Dianna L. Santos (00:00):
Welcome to the All About Scent Work Podcast. In this podcast we talk about all things Scent Work that can include training tips, a behind scenes look of what your instructor or trial official may be going through and much more. In this episode, I wanted to talk about the importance of not rushing when you're trying to figure out when to train. So before we start diving into the episode itself, let me do a very quick introduction of myself. My name is Dianna Santos. I'm the Owner and Lead Instructor of Scent Work University. This is an online dog training platform where you provide online courses, seminars, webinars, and eBooks that are all focused around Scent Work. So regardless of where you are in your sniffing journey, you're just getting started, you're trying to develop some more advanced skills or maybe you're interested in trialing or you're already competing at the upper levels, we likely have a training solution for you. Now, to know a little bit more about me, let's dive into the episode itself.

For this episode, I want to talk about the importance of not trying to jam in training, and this is from personal experience. So why do I want to talk about this? I literally just had this happen to myself a couple of days ago. I'm very excited that we're starting something new with Scent Work University. It's called the Let's Get Inspired: Creative Search Areas Program. So basically what I have done is we've created this little program together where twice a month we will be posting creative themes that we may be able to use when we're doing training with our dogs. Because a lot of us, once we've done Scent Work for a little bit, we can run out of ideas and we can just sit there and be like, "Oh, I feel it's the same thing over and over and over again. I'm bored. My dog's bored," like, ugh.

But we actually can generate a lot of creativity by sharing what we are doing with one another, and what the group is meant to do is to give you kind of a jumping off point of saying, here's a theme. Here are some parameters as far as what to do with your searches. Go forth and be creative. So it's a really fun little program that we've just started and people are joining in and they're participating. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. It's very fun. Why does any of this matter? Well, I decided because I'm the one that's offering up the themes that I wanted to provide some video examples for everyone for our very first theme, and that meant that I needed to go out and I needed to set up some searches for my dog, and I wanted to be able to talk through some of my thought processes and all these kinds of things.

All good stuff, right? Well, as you may have gleaned from the other episodes that we've posted, I'm just slightly busy, so I decided to jam this in to an already, I'm backlogged beyond belief. I'm like, okay, we're going to run out and we're going to try to do this, and I am trying to do a million things at once. I want to be able to film. I want to be able to use my Cirrus so I can show where the smoke is going. I want to be able to talk about high placement and what you can use for odor vessels and then how you may be able to make adjustments and all these different things. It could be a course. It's a lot of stuff I'm trying to jam in. I'm trying to video this, then I have to edit. Then I have to post it on top of the millions of things I already have to do that I'm already late on, and it's just a thing.

So fine. I decide in my infinite wisdom, I'm going to go do this, right? So the very first part doesn't go well. I go out and I'm missing some things because again, I'm trying. I'm like, I can bang this out. It's what I always think. I can bang this out, and it never turns out with anything that I do. I have no concept of time and how long things are going to take. So I'm frustrated right out of the gate because I'm thinking, oh, I can get all this done in tops from start to finish of setting everything up, actually doing the searches, filming it, editing it, posting it an hour at the absolute most, not even close. So I'm already in my mind like, okay, this has taken me to just get outside and to get this set up. This has taken me too long, so I am now rushing my rush.

Important things to keep in mind when we're talking about Scent Work is odor doesn't care about how rushy you want to be. Odor doesn't care about your schedule. It doesn't care about what else you have to do, neither does your dog. They are going to be using whatever it is that they have available to them as far as odor, availability of odor, and they're also not machines. So if you are floating around a frazzled little lunatic, they're going to be like, what's wrong with you? This is being set up to be really bad. My very first part, I wanted to capture a conversation kind of a, Hey, look at this space and here's some things that we'd be able to consider and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and the video didn't capture, so I'm like, so I have to do it all over again. I try to remember what I said.

It just was a thing! We then skip ahead to where I wanted to talk about where potentially we could place a hide for this very first theme and show where that could be problematic, and I go and I explain all these different things. I'm like knocking it out of the park at this point. Great. We had some bumps in the beginning, but we'll be able to do this piece. And I go and I grab my Cirrus and I try to go puff, puff puff and nothing is coming out. I'm like, puff puff and nothing is coming out and I look and it's not charged. I'm like, grrr, so now I got to go run back inside. Try to charge that and figure out, okay, I am now for this thing that was only going to take at most an hour my head, I actually thought it was going to take a half hour.

I am now 25 minutes in, and I haven't done anything of any real substance. So now I'm trying to think, okay, what can I do while this thing is going? So I'm trying to do a million things at once. My dog is just looking at me. Are we going to be doing searches? I got really excited. I thought that we were going to do searches! So now he's on level a hundred as far as arousal, which is not great because we're going to try to do some challenging searches. It's just a mess. Without getting into all the ins and outs, whatever. I finally got my Cirrus charged. Great. As I was charging, I started to do something else to show, hey, I wanted to think about this placement for a hide and I wanted to use the What a Pair odor vessel accessory, so I can show that you can have primary, you can have pairing in there and you can have it upside down.

It doesn't fall out. All wonderful things, and I'm so excited. I'm like, look, we can have this really fun thing. I'm filming it. It's all doing great, and then it just falls right, right down the whole thing because I was trying to putty this odor vessel onto a branch and putty and branches that are dirty or even slightly moist. It doesn't work. And then if you have any kind of heat, it had been warming up now because this was taking longer than I thought it was going to. Then your putty just kind of melts. There was no reason for this to work. Now, if I had been in my right mind, I would've said, okay, no big deal. I have lots of other ways that I can affix this hide and I can still show from a teaching standpoint the value of using the What a Pair accessory, but instead, I'm like, I don't have time for that.

So I just abandoned that hide placement altogether. It was a really good hide placement. It would've been good for my little guy. It would've been good for what I was trying to show. It was pretty creative. It hit all the marks, but because I am on stress cloud a hundred and I can just think, oh my God, I have all these other things I have to do, and now I made a promise to myself. No one else knew that I was going to post these things, but I made a promise to myself I was going to get this posted. It was going to be really important. It really isn't. People will be fine. If I waited till later on in the day, it would've been okay, but no, it has to get done now. So I'm hoping that you can see that this is all ridiculous.

This is not the state of mind to be training in, so forget all that. So I decide to place a hide on the top part of my gutter for my tiny little terrier and it just went downhill from there. For the people who are in the group they've already seen this chaos. They're like, oh, wow. Yeah. I put a 20 minute video that was edited down showing how many adjustments I had to make in order to make this work. The different types of decisions that I made that weren't that great at the time because I wasn't thinking clearly because I was trying to shove this in a very short period of time and I wasn't being mindful. I wasn't being thoughtful. I wasn't thinking in training head. I was thinking in, who knows? Just do example. I don't know. I do not have the words to describe. My little guy was a trooper.

He was so good in trying to do this, but during all of this frazzle this, you can hear him barking and crying inside because he's like, I want to play. So he's on level 10 for arousal, which isn't great. We don't want them to be over aroused. We want them to be in a nice ideal sense of arousal. So he was already, "WOO!" and he was exhausting himself as he's doing all his bouncing and barking and whatever else he searched. I think total, if you actually take away all the editing and all the cuts and everything, he probably searched for like a half hour total with everything, with all the different adjustments I made and all. It's a lot, and he was exhausted by the end and I'm like, oh, this is just not great. But it was a really good learning experience, which is why I shared it in the group. Learn from me!

I do not purport to be perfect by any stretch. I'm far from it, but that's why I wanted to talk about it in a podcast episode as well, that it is really, really, really easy, at least for me. Maybe I'm the only one that falls into this to say, "Oh, I've got two minutes. I'm going to go run out and do a search because I've got these two little minutes." First of all, even when we say, oh, it takes five to 10 minutes for a search for a training session, oh, keep it really short. That's not really the total amount of time that you need. You need setup, you need cleanup, you need to think about what you're actually doing, so you're probably going to need a half hour, maybe even an hour, and there's also getting the dog ready, but then also allowing them to have that really wonderful reward session afterwards is super important.

So to just say, oh, you just need five, 10 minutes and you're good. It's not true. And if you're trying to sandwich that in where you are already uber stressed, this is the only time that you have and you've got to be done at 10 minutes. I just don't think that's a great way to train. Now, are there other things that you can do that are Scent Work adjacent that potentially don't have as much potential fallout ? Maybe? So if I need to allow my guy to do a little bit of sniffing, he loves to sniff. It's a very important part of his day, but I do not have the time right now to actually mindfully set something up. I do kibble scatters. I will literally just take a handful of kibbles and I will toss them and scatter them all throughout the yard, two different parts of the yard, and he gets to go and find those, and I can make that a little bit more complicated with where I scatter it, but I know that nothing overly negative is going to happen.

There's not going to be any fallout. He's just going around and snorkeling around finding his kibbles. It's easy. It's really easy. You can do that inside too, but it's not the same type of I'm setting up a hide where I'm supposed to be doing formal searching, and I'm also supposed to be mindful as a handler and I understand that my dog is learning the whole time. In those moments, we can undo a lot and we could also potentially fall into the pitfall of creating really snazzy searches that don't actually accomplish anything helpful, and that's basically what this session had kind of morphed into. I was able to recoup it. I was able to make the adjustments to get my brain to work properly, to actually have this be productive, and he did great, and I actually walked away with some really helpful information that were tangible things that I can work on In my training, I was able to recognize some things that, you know what? We haven't done X, Y, or Z. Now we need to work on that or reviewing my video. I need to make sure that I'm not doing A, B or C with my handling. All of that took time for me to actually more soberly look at it, not in the frantic, "Oh my God, I got to get this done!"

So I wanted to talk about this in this episode because I know from me anyway and from my perspective of what I'm seeing with my clients, I know I'm going a million miles a minute all the time. Absolutely insane. It's not sustainable. But I do think from what I'm seeing with my clients with the community as a whole is that's actually not rare. I think everybody is on another level and we may just want to bring it down a notch or at the very least, take a breath and pause and say, am I actually ready to do training right now or am I just doing something else? Because training is supposed to be teaching. It's supposed to be teaching or learning opportunities because again, we're not teaching anything for Scent Work. We're giving the dog opportunities to figure these things out on their own as far as figuring out odor and so on and so forth, but that's entirely different from the frantic.

Let's just go, those are two different things, so I hope that kind of makes sense, and then maybe this will give someone else pause when they are thinking of, oh, I have two minutes. I can shove in a training session and hopefully that makes my dog tired. Maybe not such a great idea. There may be other things that we can do if we need to use a puppy pacifier, right? We need to take the edge off a little bit so we can get some other human things done. There may be better alternatives and that we may want to think about because training and using our dog's mental giving them those mental outlets is so important. It is one of the ways that we can help them feel more fulfilled. Can't just exercise them out of bouncing off the walls. They will bounce off the walls more.

So having formal training I think is really important as far as their daily routine, but knowing when to do that and how to approach it and what are the results from it, and that we have to keep in mind what's going on with us. If we are just frazzled, all ends of the candle are burned down to nothing. We are just working on fumes. It is a good idea to just take a second and just breathe, okay, what am I trying to accomplish with this? Do I just need to give my dog kind of something to take the edge off so they can go take a nap? Then maybe I don't need to do training right now. Maybe I can do something else. It can be Scent Work adjacent like the kibble scatters if I want to do training. Training is supposed to be about learning what is my dog actually going to learn if I do it like this, and do I have the time to actually set it up to do the training and then do the cool down the reward sequence, the cleanup, all that stuff, and it's probably going to be twice the amount of time of your actual training, if not more.

Do you have that? And if you don't, that's okay. Don't try to jam it in. Particularly when we're talking about Scentn Work, I think it's true for all training, but really with Scent Work because then you, you're bouncing up against odor and odor will just laugh at you and say, you are adorable. It's so cute that you thought that you'd be able to make me do what you wanted me to do. Here's some humble pie. This shorter episode than usual, just more of a this something I wanted to share because it just happened recently. It's been bubbling up in my head like, this is a really important thing for people to keep in mind is yes, we don't need 10 hours a day to do set work. That is absolutely true, and yes, your overall search maybe fairly short if you were to time when the dog is actually actively searching, maybe it is only going to be five or 10 minutes total across all your repetitions, but I also do think that we need to be a little bit more honest about how long it takes to set up, how long the searches actually take, and then all those breaks in between when the dog is inside their staging area or inside their crate.

You're changing things up for the next search and then how you're doing your reward sequence and how you're doing your cleanup. Understanding that that is a chunk of time and that chunk of time is important and trying to shorten that or make that so that it's non-existent. Not a good idea for doing training, but let me know what you guys think. Have you ever found yourself in this situation where you're like, I'm going to jam this in and it didn't go well. Maybe it's just me, but I thought that I would share. We would love to hear from all of you, as always. Definitely make certain that you let us know if there are other topics you guys are interested in. I know I've been saying this the last couple of episodes, but the very next episode that we post, I promise we'll be an interview with one of our instructors and outside speakers.

We are very excited about this. The edits are almost finalized, the next episode. I promise, scout's honor that it will be with one of those interviews so you can finally get a reprieve from me. Very exciting. I know, but also if you have anyone that you're interested in hearing from as far as someone who's giving back to the industry, either an individual or a business, please make certain that you let me know who those individuals or businesses are. I would love to interview them for our Spotlight series. Also, we're going to be continuing our instructor focus series because our instructors need to talk about these things too, so we have a lot of really fun, exciting things planned for the podcast, and again, if you are interested in joining the Let's Get Inspired: Creative Search Areas group. It's really, really fun. Again, we're going to be posting different themes in order to help everyone stay engaged and to help them stay inspired and excited about doing their searches. Those themes will be posted twice a month to that group. I'll make certain that there is a link for a little bit more information about how you may join and what's involved with that program. I'll have that in the replay page for the podcast episode itself. Alright guys, thanks so much. Happy Training. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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