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The Importance of Focusing on the Search in Scent Detection Training

28/06/2024 - Training Tips

Introduction When I first started scent detection training, it was all about the indication for me. However, over time, I've realised that the search itself is equally, if not more, important. It's essential for both owners and dogs to enjoy the search process, not just the find.

My Journey with Frankie I remember a lesson I learned years ago with my dog Frankie. We attended a trainers' day, where I was excited to showcase Frankie's impeccable indication. However, during our search, Frankie worked hard for several minutes without finding anything. Frustration set in because I was fixated on the find. Eventually, the trainer revealed that there was nothing to find; the area was clear. This moment taught me the value of rewarding a good search, not just the indication.

Why the Search Matters

  • Enjoyment: Both handlers and dogs should find joy in the search process.
  • Reduced Pressure: Focusing solely on the find can create unnecessary stress for both the dog and handler.
  • Rewarding Effort: Dogs should be rewarded for their diligent searching, which encourages thoroughness and reduces false indications.
  • Confidence Building: Trusting your dog's search ability builds confidence in both the dog and handler.

Training Tips

  1. Focus on the Search: Practice exercises that emphasise the search rather than the indication.
  2. Unknown Hides: Include searches with an unknown number of hides or no hides at all to build trust in the search process.
  3. Reward Thorough Searches: Consistently reward your dog for a good search, even if they don't find anything.

In our classes, we sometimes set up searches with no hides to teach dogs that they can still be rewarded for their hard work. This approach reduces frustration and allows dogs to enjoy the search process.

Conclusion Remember, it's not just about the find; it's about the search. Encourage your dog to enjoy the search, and you'll both benefit from a more rewarding training experience.


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