ALL ABOUT SCENT WORK PODCAST

Ep.

60

Dealing With Failure

SPEAKERS:
    Dianna L. Santos
    Michael McManus
    Khara Schuetzner
BRIEF DESCRIPTION:

The topic for this roundtable discussion is ways instructors can help their students better deal with "failures” they may experience at trial...whether "failure" is a real thing or not, how handlers may set better expectations for themselves and their dogs, how balancing training and trialing is incredibly important and so much more! We are so thankful for Michael McManus and Khara Schuetzner for having these riveting conversations with us, and we think you will enjoy this one as well.

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Podcast Episode Transcript

As mentioned in the episode, be sure to check out Michael's previous podcast episode, What is Failure?, where he talks about failure as well as his Conquering Competition Stress Webinar.


If you would like to work one-on-one with Michael or Khara, you can regardless of where you live!


Submit a training or trialing video for them to review and provide feedback on or schedule a virtual Zoom consultation. Choose between 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 60 minutes to have your Scent Work training questions answered and solutions provided. Again, Michael and Khara are incredibly experienced and talented trainers and instructors. Don't pass up the opportunity to work with them!


TRANSCRIPT: 


Dianna L. Santos:

Welcome to the All About Scent Work Podcast. In this podcast, we talk about all things scent work, that includes training tips, a behind the scenes look of what your instructor or trial official may be going through and much more. In this episode, we have a conversation with Michael McManus and Khara Schuetzner regarding how it is the handlers may be able to deal with the idea of failure, how they may be able to come out of that, and whether or not failure is actually a real thing anyway. 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, Dog Sport University, and Pet Dog U. These are online dog training platforms that are designed to provide high quality dog training instruction to as many people as possible. We're very fortunate to have a base worldwide. At Scent Work University in particular, we provide online courses, seminars, webinars, and eBooks that are all designed to help you achieve your dog training goals, whether that's just getting started in scent work, looking to develop some more advanced skills, or if you're interested in trialing, we have a training solution for you. Now that you know a little bit more about me, let's dive into the podcast episodes itself.


Dianna L. Santos:

In this episode, we have the opportunity to speak with Michael McManus and Khara Schuetzner about what it is that handlers can do, or what instructors may be able to advise their handlers to do when they have experienced a "failure", more often than not at a trial. And we also dive into whether or not failure is actually a real thing, and a lot of other great stuff as well. Let's have a listen in on that very helpful and informative discussion.


Dianna L. Santos:

Basically, what I wanted to do with you both is have this little round table discussion of how we can help people better recover or learn or apply from a "failure" that they may have had from trial. Michael, I know that you've already done a podcast with us about failure overall, which I thought was very good, so do you want to just start off with what you think people may be associating the word failure with at trial and where you think that maybe they could think about that differently? And then maybe we can go from there to talk about how they may be able to actually apply the lessons that they may have learned at a "failure" at trial to actually improve.


Michael McManus:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that you really illustrated the key part of this. Failure is not a real thing. Failure is an abstract concept, and it almost has a hundred percent to do with framing of things. And so different people can go into the exact same scenario with the exact same outcome, and some will see it as a failure and some will see it as a success, and some won't see it as either, because they didn't realize that they were playing some kind of zero-sum game where failure and success were even an option. And that definitely comes to your own personality and understanding how that works and the culture that you're a part of. I know there are some groups of people who definitely have a very strong sense of what constitutes a failure, what constitutes success.


Michael McManus:

That's the first thing is what you're considering a failure, actually, a failure, because usually when it comes to Nose Work trials at least, that's a very complex set of things that happens. It would be really hard to write something off as a failure in totality. There are probably some things that we could consider failures and some things that we could consider successes. And you choose what to focus on. I know for me personally, with my last son to be one as a good example, now I happened to title. But to me if we had failed the trial, but we had gone into exteriors and not peed in the exteriors, that would have constituted a complete success for me. That would be total success. First NW1 one out there, I would have been happy with that. We got a title. Great, wonderful. But that really didn't even factor into my version of success, because I'm not worried about the NW1 title. I'm worried about long stream, way down the stream what is my dog capable of doing later?


Dianna L. Santos:

Then from there as an instructor, how do you help your students come up with a meaningful definition for failure for them in their dogs, so they don't go down the rabbit hole where basically everything that they do is a failure?


Michael McManus:

Yeah. There's a couple of things. One thing that I tell all of my students, I got this from my dad, was that the day after, you could critique. But the day of, it doesn't matter how badly the competition or performance, because I grew up very musical, if it was the day after a musical performance or something like that, the day of you celebrate. You pick something good, however trivial it is, you pick something good, you celebrate that. And then the day after, now we're going to tear it apart and rebuild everything. But in the moment, you're not able to really zone in on things that... You can't build a plan yet because you're not thinking properly. You're too emotional in the moment. And you can choose to focus on whatever positive or negative emotions you want. Make it a rule that you're only going to focus on the positive emotions. And then tomorrow, when we are able to be more intellectual about it, you can intellectualize your failure and not emotionalize and catastrophize your failures.


Michael McManus:

There's that. And then the second thing is make a list of all the... And I tend not to frame it as a failure, but frame it more as a list of things that you discovered that you need to work on. Half the time I'm trialing, that's the purpose. I'm like, "Okay, where are my holes? I don't know. Is my dog ready for NW2? I don't know." The only way for me to know is to do an NW2, or to do a mock NW2. I don't care how it is. I go into an NW2, and I go, "Oh wow, we need to work multiple hides. Right?"


Michael McManus:

To me, that's not a failure. That was the goal of doing the NW2. And then I go back home, I train. And then I go, "I wonder if we're ready for an NW2 again." And then we do another NW2. Like the whole point for me is to find holes. The success comes because I trained well, not because, I don't know, I went to a trial, and I expected to win and then I didn't win, and I'm upset about that. And expectation's another side of this whole thing that needs to be addressed probably at some point.


Dianna L. Santos:

Yep. Perfect. So, Khara, how would you help people who may have failed, again in their definition of failed, multiple times in getting a specific goal? Let's say that they weren't doing the breakdown that Michael was describing. Instead, their goal was merely the title. All the other stuff doesn't matter. I didn't get this title however many times. How are you helping those students say, "Okay. Well, instead of you sitting here and wallowing about that and maybe blowing up your training work that may not even be part of the problem, and thinking down about you and your dog." How do you help those people?


Khara Schuetzner:

I try not to stay focused in emotional state is what I would say. I'll say that I have a very reactive dog that I started in his work, Cooper, and we got our NW1 straight off the bat, and I didn't have any expectations except for like Michael, let's not pee in exteriors or loser our, I can't say the technical word, I would say, but you lose our crap if a noise happens. And we got that one on our first bat. And then I had another dog who got doggies Alzheimer's and everyone was like, "She'll never do her ORT. She'll never pass an NWN." I had famous instructors telling me this. Like Michael said, the only way you can tell is by going out there, and we went and did our NW1, and we passed the first time. I was in shock. We got a lot of 30 second calls, but we passed.


Khara Schuetzner:

And if I would have let the failure of other people telling me what my dog and I was capable of doing, I could have went down the rabbit hole, because I'm not normally emotional, but I am when it comes to my dogs. It's like people in their children. What I took from it, and what my husband always helped me out too, is take from what you think are your mistakes or your failures, and just analyze them and learn from them and don't dwell on them. I know I was struggling at NW2 for a while and NW3 with Cooper for a while, because it was like whatever the last element was, we would fail. And it wasn't my dog. It was mostly me, because I got in my psyche that whatever the last element is, I put the pressure on myself.


Khara Schuetzner:

Once I stopped doing that and just trusting in what I knew on my dog and how he searched and everything, it let that go. And I think with my students, because I have a lot of students who feel like, "Oh my God, I let my dog down." And all this stuff, your dog doesn't care. Your dog's very happy that they got to do something. Think of the other dogs that are either in the backyard all the time with no enrichment activities or everything else. And training and trialing are two different things. And the trial stress, I think, is what a lot of people put on it. And as an instructor, I don't know if Michael does this, but I feel like sometimes all eyes are on me, because I'm an instructor so I should like the best dog. And I actually love it when my students beat me, because that means I'm a better teacher.


Khara Schuetzner:

You want your students to win for you. And I tell my students, I'm like, "Hey, if you beat me, I'm okay with that. If it's somebody else, no." Because Michael and I probably are both very competitive people, because I grew up in a competitive household too and piano recitals and competitions, so I totally get that. But you just have to let that go. And if you get emotional, because some people are going to break down in tears. Lord knows I've cried like 27 hours driving back from California, because I didn't call a hide. And I just dwelled on it. You have to just take that moment and be like, "Okay, why did I get into this sport? What do I love about it?" And focus on the good things about it. You can't just dwell on it.


Khara Schuetzner:

I love Ted Lasso's equivalent of Beago Fish. Their memory's 10 seconds. Forget it and move on. I think that's how we have to do it, because if you dwell on it, you're just going to spiral down. If I get a no on the first run out, I'm just going to have fun. And it takes the stress out. And I've seen people who, because I judge a lot of these trials, when they get a no, they just spiral out of control after that. And you should use that as a learning opportunity and go. The next element, it's a clean slate. Go out there and do the best you can.


Dianna L. Santos:

Jumping off of what you were just talking about, Khara, what do you think that people could do in training that could help them better prepare to apply some of the things that you were talking about? Michael has covered this beautifully in his Conquering Competition Stress webinars, but as far as for what you've been doing with your students, how do you try to provide them the skills so they can actually do some of these things when they actually encounter at a trial, like being able to mentally, "Oh, look, I just drove six hours to go to this trial. I'm all stressed whatever else. I go out, and instead of saying search, I said alert at the start line, and now we're done for the day." How do you help those people in training so that they can at least laugh at that in the moment, and then get through the rest of the day?


Khara Schuetzner:

A lot of people who know how I teach my class fear me when I'm a seal or judge, because sometimes we do some stressors in our instruction, probably Michael too, because I'll do something that I hope they never see at trial, but they don't have to understand just because I'm trying to emulate the stress that they're going to incur at trial, which is hard me to do. And what I've tried to have my students do is when they feel like them or their dog needs a reset, there is nothing wrong with just taking your dog, as long as you're not near an object or anything, and just stroking in between the chest or petting them or whatever, and taking a deep breath at that moment. I really find that your breathing influences your stress level. And when I went through police academy, I would get stressed at the firing line, and they really taught me how to do a lot of that technique. I have some of my students do that.


Khara Schuetzner:

A lot of people feel like they need to restart at the start line. I'm like, "No, you can restart anywhere in the search area." And I'll tell you as a professional handler, recently I was doing some certification, and I got really stressed and my dog found a source, and then we were struggling because I was just stressed. And I actually took my dog back to the source that he found, and the master trainer's like, "You can't go back there." And I'm like, "I need to go back there for myself to calm my nerves down." Because it happens. It happens in the real world and everything. I just tried to teach them to just take a moment, take a deep breath, and if they forget where they are, why they're touching their dog, that's the time to look up and say, "Okay, what have we not covered, or what have I not covered?" And if they need to go back to a hide to do that with their dog, I tell them that's fine too.


Khara Schuetzner:

All it is is time. And I tell them not to worry about that clock, because if you worry about time, I feel like you set yourself up to fail. Those people who are like, "I have to get a placement ribbon." They put a lot of pressure on theirself. Where if you just go with as a team, I've had lots of my students get placement ribbons that are like the slowest one in class, but the best one at the trial.


Dianna L. Santos:

That was perfect. Thank you. And now going off of that, Michael, and also picking up on what you were talking about with expectations, how can we as a community of professionals, instructors, and so on, better help the little people out there who are listening to us, whether it be our own direct students, podcasts like this, whatever we may writing, or putting out into the universe, how can we help them make better expectations for what they and their dogs need to do within any given moment, whether that be in training or trialing, so that we kind of avoid this whole failure thing to begin with?


Michael McManus:

Yeah, that's actually a really complicated question in a lot of ways, because I feel like there's a lot of people out there who are only testing. And so they're setting themselves up for failure and for these expectations to drag them down into the depths of despair. It's just really a terrible situation. If you're listening to this podcast, then I think one, you're special, that you're already in an elite group in a way, right, of people who care about more than just testing your dog all the time. But if you find yourself... If you're doing a lot of blind searches, this just a general example, don't take it too seriously, but if you do a lot of blind searches, you're testing your dog a lot. So what's the rest ratio? How much are you training?


Michael McManus:

You're tested. What are you testing? You're testing for holes. Did you find a hole? If you found a hole, then you should patch that hole before you test again. Okay. And I don't see a lot of people doing that. I see them just continuing to test, almost like they're hoping the hole will disappear magically with enough tests, that eventually it'll just go away like some random luck. It's not random luck. It's dedicated hard work. You test in order to find a hole, you find a hole, you patch it, and you patch it by you're returning back to foundation, building everything up from scratch. And I seriously mean it. You don't fix the hole by setting up the hole again. You go all the way back to the foundation where there is no hole, because it's flat. That's what a foundation is, flat, and then you build back up. Okay? That's what I would recommend. And if you don't know how far back you need to go, go all the way back. You won't hurt yourself by going all the way back.


Dianna L. Santos:

Okay. That's what I wanted to ask you is for the people who are already, in their minds, they're beyond these baby stages that you're talking about. I'm already doing yada, yada, yada. I've been doing this for however long, maybe I'm dog 10 now. Unbeknownst to them, they've had the same issue throughout all these various dogs. Dogs one through nine carried them through that problem, but now dog 10 doesn't have whatever magical element those other nine dogs did. And so now this issue that's been there the whole time is rearing its ugly head. How do you help those people who may have been doing scent work, nose work for however long come to terms with, "Yeah, you may actually have to go, which I think was a brilliant way of putting it, this flat surface, because there's an enormous problem there." How do you help them get to the point where they're able to do that? Because that's hard. I've invested 10 years into this, and now you're telling me I got to go "back to stage one". Are you out of your mind? How do you help those people?


Michael McManus:

Yeah. Part of that has to do with your personality of the instructor. I'm going to frame things obviously from my personality and how I help my students when I'm encountering someone who I'm telling needs to re-approach foundation. One thing I do is that I model that behavior as much as I can. I tend to in my classes, if I can, I almost always run one of my dogs. And when I'm running one of my dogs, and I know not every instructor can do this and not every instructor wants to do it, because a lot of pressure to perform in front of your students. And there's already a lot of pressure on you as an instructor like Khara was saying earlier about being in trial as an instructor and having people, that's its own podcast probably that we start at some point, because I'm sure there's a lot of trainers.


Michael McManus:

I've talked to trainers, actually who have contacted me who were too afraid to even trial their dogs. They didn't have any titles. They were too afraid, because they were afraid if they failed what people would think. And that's a tragedy, because they're missing out on an opportunity to have fun with their dog. But also they're missing out opportunities to learn and help their students better, because actually all the failures that I have as a competitor is what makes me the trainer that I am.


Michael McManus:

Anyways, that's a little off topic. If I have a student, I model it. I'm always the person... Let's say I set up a set up in my search area, and a couple people run it, and then I'm going to run my dog next. And I grabbed some, "Hey, here's some treats. Go pair the hides for my dog." And almost without fail. I have someone in the class go, "Why are you pairing for your dog? Your dog's at the NW3 level or whatever it is, it doesn't matter, why you're pairing? Your dog's good." Like, "No, my dog is good, because I pair and you guys don't want to pair, that's fine. I like taking home the ribbons for myself." Honestly I frame it competitively, because I'm a competitive person. Like, "Hey, you want to earn placement ribbons with a twelve-year-old Husky in summer? Because I do." And I have done that is I pair the crap out of everything, and I pair, and I do foundation drills almost exclusively. I almost never do "advanced searches" with my dog. I never. The times I do them is in trial, right? That's where it's time for all that training to show itself off.


Michael McManus:

I really think that people should see nose work. There's a lot of different terminology people use, but in my opinion, you're showing a dog. You're showing what your dog can do. You shouldn't be training them in the ring, so to speak. And I think a lot of people go into the search hoping to finagle their dogs through it. It's like, "No, you should be showing what your dog can do to this test and you as a handler."


Michael McManus:

But anyways, that's one approach. Another approach is to help people understand the process and its completion. Here's a hole. We've discovered a hole. You haven't done anything wrong. I don't really mean this, but this is the way I would communicate to a student. You haven't wasted the last five years of training with your dog. You haven't wasted it. You've done a whole bunch of really great work with your dog. Okay? We need to go back to something. You should have done five years ago, but you're doing it now. It doesn't matter when you do it. We're just going to do it. Now it's a hole. We're going to patch it. That's all. It's going to be fast. You won't even know that it's over when it's over. And most people are okay with that when they understand I'm not telling you you've wasted five years. I'm just telling you we got to do something now that we should have done five years ago.


Michael McManus:

And this is very easy to fall into a trap, especially if you have a really good dog, and like Diana said, if you have multiple dogs, it's easy to overlook holes. But if you have a really, really talented dog, naturally talented dog, then you, without even realizing it, will cut corners and skip ahead because the dog can do it. You won't even know there's a hole until it's a big hole. You haven't ruined the dog. The dog hasn't suddenly developed a problem. The problem has always been there, you just didn't notice because the dog was so naturally talented that you didn't notice. And you should be very happy that you have such a talented dog. Now go back and fix the hole. That's all. Don't make a big deal about it. Just go train your dog.


Dianna L. Santos:

Oh, you make it sound so easy.


Michael McManus:

But it is easy. It's that simple. It really is.


Dianna L. Santos:

Yeah. No, I completely agree with you. I'm just sure there's lots of people who are sitting there curled up in the fetal position completely disagreeing with both of us. But it is very true, and I think that that leads to a good follow-up question for Khara. What do you do then for the person who has taken in the advice, and they're actually really applying it. They fixed that particular issue. Right? But now they know that there may have been something for a long period of time they struggled with. Let's say long line handling skills, where they knew from dogs one through nine, they were really hindering the dogs doing well, because of their own mechanical skills. You've been working with this person, and they have actually improved. But in the back of their mind, they are still convinced that they are just a failure at doing this long leash handling skills. What do you do for someone who may have that kind of hangup, where they have a long history of I struggle with this, but now it actually is improving. How do you help them?


Khara Schuetzner:

Well, I tell them there's a pot shop next door. I'm just joking. That's actually how I started out. You got to have some humor in this. You have to have humor in this. And I think that's where we always focus on the negative, and I'm going to table back on Michael's holes there. I have learned... I went into the professional world to fix some things that I felt was lacking as me as an instructor. And professional handlers can help you in some ways, but they don't run the Chihuahua or the Husky or anything like that. There's a hole in their training when they can converse to nose work a lot of them, because they don't know how to deal with the dog that shuts down or whatever, because they would just wash it. Right?


Khara Schuetzner:

I have students that feel that way too, about their leash handling. And I show them video, because usually we have video of our training of when they begin and when they are now. And I even show them video of when I have begun 10 years ago, and how I was riding my dog's butt. And people would tell to me you need a bumper sticker on his tail or whatever, and where we are now, and he's retired, so I'm training a new one that's a totally different breed and everything, like little small terrier hound mix. And I'm sure I'm going to make mistakes with her, because we all make mistakes in our training. No matter how you train or where you train or whatever, you're always going to have a hole somewhere. And the reason for this is not because of the dog. It's because of us. And you have to go back to foundation no matter what style, who you train with, whatever. When you discover that, just go back to the basics.


Khara Schuetzner:

Pairing. I've even gone back, back back on some dogs to food. Just straight food. I remember Ron. I love Ron. He would always say, "It's not remedial." And in true trainers will not be like, "Oh, it's not like you're going back to kindergarten." If you were struggling with something in real life, you wouldn't keep pounding your head against the wall for that. You would go back to where you understood it and then build from there. And so I think with people that I showed them video evidence. That's the best way. And if you've never videotaped any of your training, and you train alone, because I trained alone for many years, go get a stand to put your phone on, go walk the area, record that, and then go set hides in that area so you can see, because that's the only way you can learn sometimes is by videoing. Because you'll see stuff that... And have somebody else watch it.


Khara Schuetzner:

For seven years, I didn't know that Cooper's tail dropped a certain degree for seven years until my husband walked by and was watching this video. And he goes, "Oh, did you notice his tail?" I'm like, "You couldn't have told me this seven years ago." Because I never asked him to watch videos with me. You know? That's what I would say is definitely is the video evidence. And we're human. We make mistakes. People say dog make mistakes. I think dogs are very honest. I think if they make a mistake in training, it's because of us. I really do. I really think if we had an Up device with a voice box, our dogs would be talking to us all the time like, "You stupid human. [inaudible 00:24:44]." But you could just got to let it go and use video of that.


Khara Schuetzner:

And if you're really struggling with the deep dark circle or the drain as I call it of self failure, you need to make a list of why you got into the sport of nose work or scent work, or why are you doing this? Why? You need to figure out what your why was. And everyone gets burn out. Everyone goes through these things. You have to figure out what was your why. And sometimes taking a break from trialing and just focusing on training, and I don't ever try to push my students to do that. I will tell them about my own journey about taking a break sometimes, because sometimes that's the hardest thing to tell a student or somebody is like, "Hey, maybe you need to just chill out for the summer and not enter anything or couple of months and just focus on training and having fun with your dog." That actually resets their mentality, I think.


Dianna L. Santos:

I think that's excellent. Michael, did you want to maybe jump on that as far as that last piece of helping people understand that maybe it may not be such a great idea to be trailing multiple venues every single weekend, all month long, 52 weeks a year. You may want to talk about that real quick.


Michael McManus:

Yeah. I think we have to think about what are the incentives, because ultimately why are people trialing? Khara mentioned that earlier. I think that people are trialing, because one, they want to spend time with their dogs. That's good. I'm all on board with that. One, they want to spend time with their friends. There's a large community, and nose work is incredibly welcoming as far as dog sports go. Yeah. There's cliques and things like that, but you can go and you can talk to people and hang out in the parking lot. It's a great communal experience. These are all great things. I think because people are competitive, and they want to win things, and they want to perform well. And that's okay. That's good too. I'm a competitive person, so you're not going to get arguments against competition from me, but you're going to get competitions of competing poorly or being a bad sport. That's for sure.


Michael McManus:

Maybe one of the things we should be talking about is how do we create opportunities for people to do that and not just throw the dog under the bus by continually putting in them situations where they're in over their heads. It's sad that there aren't more events that people could go to where the dog is benefiting from it as much as the handler is. And one of the things that I do with my own dogs is I do a lot of workshops. Workshops are great. You get to put the same amount of stress on yourself as a handler, but you're the support system, and everyone, the workshop presenter, everyone's a support system for the dog. The dog gets to grow, as opposed to a trial where there was a great support system for me. If I fail, I go out back, out to the car, and everyone's like, "Oh, that's too bad. You'll get it next time." And the dog is thrown under the bus in the meantime. Yeah, I think you should really think about whether trials are beneficial and at what frequency. I trial very, very rarely. And when I trial, I always make sure I have a plan to break, rest, and train my dog before the next trial. I'm very protective of my dogs. And I think trial environment is actually not a good environment for most dogs.


Dianna L. Santos:

To jump off of that, to give people some ideas of what they may be able to do as far as creating custom solutions for what you're talking about, of where we can have all of those incentives for the people that are important, because they're the ones that are choosing in their free time to do scent work on those with their dogs anyway. If they don't have the incentive, they're just not going to do it. And that would be bad. What could we do as far as giving people ideas of ways that they can still have the incentive for them, but like you said, not throwing the dog under the bus. So I'll start with Michael and then Khara, if you have an ideas.


Michael McManus:

I think, like I said, workshops and special events that occupy the same time slots that trial... That's a difficult thing. Some people are so invested in the trial system that going to a trial and burning their dog out for a ribbon is just more attractive to them than going and doing a group training event. That's too bad. I think we need to find ways to make these training events more inviting, more fun, more communal. One of the things that we do in our classes is we have a bottle of champagne, especially after a competition. It's like not everything has to be a lecture hall. It can be, "Yes, we're going to learn something, but let's also enjoy our time and our company and all this stuff." Think about ways that you can really incentivize that structure.


Michael McManus:

And another thing is, as an instructor, if you're an instructor listening to this and your students are competing, especially if your students are competing regularly, they do not need to come back to your class and do more blind searches. They don't need of that. I've talked to so many people who that's the class they go to. It's just blind searches. That's it? It's terrible. If you're an instructor and you're doing this, I'm sorry, you're part of the problem. You need to be the support system for this dog who's going to do that this weekend, and going to do it next week and going to do it the next weekend. And when you get them that one day in the middle of the week, you need to be setting up drills that are going to prepare this dog, to recover this dog. You need to be doing that. And that style, that structure of class needs to be more commonplace. It needs to be more accessible to people so that people can do that and get feedback and get instruction and have that support system for the dog.


Dianna L. Santos:

Perfect. Thank you, Miss Khara, did you have any thoughts for what people may be able to do, either people practicing on their own, if they're working with friends or what instructors may do in order to do this incentivizing that we're talking about of helping people one, still play the game with their dogs, but not, like Michael was saying, throwing the dog under the bus, which may happen if they're trialing weekend, after weekend, after weekend?


Khara Schuetzner:

There's a couple of things I do in my class. We play games. We play for money. We play for alcohol. We play for doggy treats. We play for stupid little ribbons that I get off of Amazon or whatever that say like, "You're awesome." But there's things you can do as a group. Like I agree with Michael, we have a trial coming up this weekend, right? I tell my students after Wednesday, they're not doing any more nose work with their dogs, because they're going to burn themselves out. And the first time my students heard that from me, they thought I was nuts. And I was like, "No, because you're mentally going to burn yourself out. Just go hiking. I don't care until Saturday and Sunday. Do something fun. Don't even put a 10 out."


Khara Schuetzner:

As a group, my students will get together, and we'll actually watch each other, and we'll say, "Who found which hide first." We'll play that game. And yeah, we pair probably two thirds out of all our hides. And if they don't want to pair them, I'm like, "Oh good thing you're not pairing. And I'm pairing." You're not pairing. I'm pairing. And so we'll do stuff like that. We'll also play closest to the pin is a new one that I've learned from my professional work. And they're getting ready to play one of those, where I'm going to have an inaccessible hide, and whichever dog can get closest to that hide is going to win something. The team is going to win something, like a human tree and a dog treat. And we'll put a little washer on it when they alert. And then we'll mark the distance of whose closest to the inaccessible object or whatever object do I have it on.


Khara Schuetzner:

I like to play the plethora of hides. I know Michael you've done this, but I have a big training facility. Sometimes I can get a warehouse, and they can watch each other, because this is a good. And I give them some ridiculous amount of time of seven or eight minutes. And I put 20 to 30 hides out. And we keep track, and they can work it again, and I guarantee you the dogs aren't going to get all of them. But the second time they come in, the dog gets most of all them, because they know they left them behind. We play for money on that one. They like that one, because it's something new that they get to see.


Khara Schuetzner:

And then around Christmas time, I like to play the human nose work game to get the humans to feel what it's like sometimes. I'll get a bunch of McCormick's or those vanilla extract and all those weird coffee smells and Brandy. And I'll put them on red solo cups, because humans aren't good with their nose. They have to go. And I'll put blank red solo cups up, so they have four minutes. And as a team, they have to go find the odor, and the red solar cup, and identify the odor. And the team that's closest gets to pick, we do Christmas gifts or holiday gifts, so they get to pick which set of gifts to take first, because some of them are really good and some of them are like stuff you get at the dollar store. And the handlers actually like that one. And I haven't done it in a while, I think because of COVID last year. This year we're definitely going to do that one, because they realized their dog works better than they do smelling things. And at some point they all think it all smells like alcohol.


Khara Schuetzner:

It's a good game for the humans to understand what... Because they feel the pressure as a team, because I make them do an in teams and that actually puts more pressure on them that they were doing it by themselves, because they don't want to let their team down. I'm trying to emulate that emotional failure stress, because I think as humans, there's no way of getting... There's some humans that can get rid of it. My husband's pretty good at it, but I'm not.


Dianna L. Santos:

Okay. To wrap up this really great conversation, you both have offered so much great information for the people who are listening. Michael, did you have any final thoughts about this whole idea of if someone listened to this whole podcast and they're still like, "Well, I don't know about yada, yada." What would you want their final thought to be in listening to this podcast about either failure, expectations, how they can better set their dog up for success, set themselves up for success, what's the final thing that if this person is still on the fence about listening to all this that you want them to walk away with?


Michael McManus:

Let's say you've been struggling with a problem for a couple of years or just a year, whatever it is. Let's say you've got an NW1 and you just can't pass it. And you've tried multiple times, and that's probably means you've been having this problem for several years. What does it cost you to take one month and try it my way? Just take one month. Pair everything. No blind searches for the whole month. Foundation drills, high energy. You praise the heck out of your dog when they find it, right? Like really sincerely get excited about it. Pick up hides after the dog finds them, so that when the dog goes back to the hide, you don't go, "No, find another one." I hate that. It drives me crazy. Pick up hides, so you don't fight with your dog. Right? Remove all that conflict. Okay. Go back to basics one month and see if your dog doesn't show a huge improvement very quickly. What's the risk? Try it.


Dianna L. Santos:

Awesome. I think that's a fantastic piece of suggestion. Thank you, Miss Khara, did you have any final thoughts for someone who may be in that head space of being like, "Oh, I don't know what I should do."


Khara Schuetzner:

I was in that head space for a while, and I let somebody else trial my dog, and they actually got placement ribbons and they passed. That's an eye-opener. But I agree. What does it cost? It doesn't cost anything to do that. And Michael said something about you found that one. Oh my God. That's one of my... It kills me. It kills me when people say that. I just want to go beat them. And I'm not a violent person, really. There's nothing wrong with going back to basics. Basics can fix all your problems. And for this, I have students who have come to me that did, like Michael does a month, which I think is great for basics, or maybe he goes longer on a month, but I've had people that have started their fifth dog, let's say or something like that, and they have done it one way, one week and one way a different week and then like inconsistency.


Khara Schuetzner:

I would say whatever basics you started with or if you didn't have a basics, find somebody's basics and stick with it for a while. A month is good. I think even a little bit longer, sometimes six to eight weeks is even better, especially because consistency is the key. And if you're having something that's broke and you keep doing the same thing, that's called insanity. You have to break that cycle. And there is nothing, nothing wrong with pairing, with toys, with food. If you're afraid you're going to screw up your dog, you're not. It's letting go of your ego and realizing that, "Hey, I need to be a better partner to the one that's actually doing the work."


Dianna L. Santos:

Perfect.


Michael McManus:

Do you mind if I quickly, based on what car has said, to amend what I'm saying? I'm not saying do this for a month and then your problems will be solved. I'm saying do it for a month, so you can see the progress, so that you're going to be convinced to do it for the rest of your dog's career and not be so afraid that you've gone back to the basics, and now you're stuck there. No, this is what allows you to do the advanced stuff. This is what's going to allow you to get those advanced titles that you really want. This is the way I've taken my dogs to the advanced levels. It's by doing basics almost exclusively for their entire career.


Khara Schuetzner:

I want to say something too about reward and motivation. If you're seeing slowness, if you think it's slowness or something, change a freaking reward. Dogs have preference. I see a lot of issues just by changing out the reward. I had a new student who's on her second dog and does work with a Great Dane. And her first dog loves food. Her Great Dane is a toy lover, like I want to tug like a Malinois toy lover. And you get excited about it too. If you don't know your dog's preferences, there's ways to test that. You can Google dog preferences. I tell my students put three different foods out, see what your dog likes, and you can do it a hundred times. You can go with toys. Dogs do have preferences. And I'm telling you, when I see dogs out in the heat, like the Husky, if he's working in the heat, you better have some darn good stuff, because you're getting dogs to do things that normally don't like heat or certain things. Find that motivator, that top stuff. I have a dog that will sell his soul to the devil for oranges, and when we go to a nose work trial, guess what his reward is, because he hates containers. Oranges. Judge doesn't care. Figure out what they like, and it may surprise you.


Dianna L. Santos:

Wonderful. Well, I want to thank you both. This was an amazing podcast, and I hope that people who are listening really appreciate the amount of wonderful information these two experienced people just gave you. If you ever have an opportunity of working with either Khara or Michael through Scent Work University, we have video reviews where you actually being able to submit a video to either Michael or Khara to review and provide you feedback. We also have a way for you to schedule virtual consultations. You can do that as well. These are very talented people who would be able to help you with your dog. Please do that.


Dianna L. Santos:

So as you can see from this episode, Michael McManus and Khara Schuetzner are not only experienced and talented instructors. They are also a wealth of information and knowledge. As I mentioned in the episode itself, if you have an opportunity to work with Michael or Khara, whether it be in-person, going to one of their workshops, attending one of their webinars, or working with them virtually, please do. They are very, very good. We'll make sure in the podcast replay page that we have links for the other podcasts that Michael had done with us, where he was discussing failure, his Conquering Competition Stress webinar, which is very, very good, and we'll also make sure that we have links for how you may be able to work with both Michael or Khara virtually with their video review services, as well as our virtual consultations.


Dianna L. Santos:

But we also want to hear from you. What are some other topics that you may be interested in us covering in these round-table-like discussions? We'll be posting this episode up on our Scent Work University Facebook page, so be more than welcome to add any suggestions that you may have there or post any questions or comments that you may have about this episode. But as always, I really want to thank you all for listening. We have over 34,000 downloads so far with only a very few number of episodes, which is amazing. Thank you all for your continued support. We really appreciate it. All right guys. Thanks so much. Happy training. I look forward to seeing you soon.