Reusing The Same Hide Location When Practicing - Yay or Nay?

Updated: Sep 2



We strongly encourage all dog owners to be thinking trainers, considering whether a piece of training advice will work for them and their dogs. Training Scent Work is no exception.


Perhaps a certain exercise caught your eye, but after thinking about it, you determine you would need further customization for it to work for you. Do so!


Or, maybe after thinking about it, you find out the ultimate result would be hopelessly in conflict with your overall training goals. In that case, leave that exercise or piece of training advice behind.


It is far better to be a thoughtful, mindful and discerning trainer than one who simply latches onto every piece of advice that is thrown about. This includes the exercises and training advice we provide here through Scent Work University.


"GASP!"


It is true. Not every exercise or piece of training advice will fit neatly into the needs of every single dog and handler team. Being critical, discerning, and willing to modify or customize as necessary, are essential traits for any dog handler/trainer.


Personally, I love when our clients send us questions about various training topics we have discussed or covered in our online courses, seminars, webinars or eBooks, it shows that they are thinking!


We recently received such a question related to a few exercises we posited in the 50 Sniffy Fun Challenges and Winter Sniffy Fun Challenges eBooks, where a hide was to stay in the same location over a series of runs while other elements were changed (additional hides added in, fans brought in to change the air flow, start line changed, etc.). The question was this: could doing this result in the dog thinking it would be okay to “re-find” a hide they already found, especially at a trial?


Given that we have access to amazingly talented and experienced instructors, I posed the question to them (better than simply pontificating about this topic myself!).


Here is the wonderful discussion which resulted:


DIANNA SANTOS: Could using this type of hide, that is not moved in multiple runs in the same training exercise, cause an issue where a dog thinks they are expected to re-find a hide over-and-over again, especially in the context of trialing?


MICHAEL MCMANUS: Maybe, but my dogs are all allowed to re-find hides. I consider that a core component to developing stickiness on odor. I do agree with the idea of doing it sparingly. I do plenty of exercises where the hide doesn't move and other things change around it. But I'm using the fact that the dog has an expectation to get to the same point for reinforcement as a training tool to build confidence. It's a very specific training drill to use in very specific situations. Definitely shouldn't be overdone.<