Updated: Sep 2
My goodness, we haven't even started yet!
"I don't WANT to think! I just want my dog to DO!"
I understand your reservation, and will not lie to you and say this is an easy thing to do at first, but it will pay off in the end.
There, there. You can do this.
So, what does being a "thinking trainer" entail, you may ask? Well, it means that you are not blindly going through your training journey with your dog. Rather, you are consciously aware of how complicated this can all be. You are actively making decisions based upon data, not emotions, all while being flexible enough to pivot and adjust when things get out of balance...and they will get out of balance at some point.
"All of that sounds boring, hard and makes my head hurt. I just want my dog to find odor!"
Okay, you want your dog to find odor. How will you go about showing them that Birch, Anise or Clove are meaningful to them and that you want them to find those odors?
"Ummm, I will reward them for finding it..."
Don't be so unsure of yourself!
Alright, so you will create a reward history every time your dog finds a Birch hide, let's say. How are you going to do that?
"...I will give them a treat when they find it."
That sounds good to me! As you progress, you will want to introduce some more advanced hide problems, right?
"Yes! Elevation is important!"
Perfect. So you are rewarding your dog for finding elevated hides by giving them a treat when they find it. So far so good?
Since you said elevated hides are important, you are doing a bunch of them for a few weeks and your dog is doing very well.
"Right, and no boring thinking stuff yet!"
Yeah, about that...what happens when you set a ground hide since you heard a classmate ran into that odor problem at a trial and y