What exactly is the handler's role in the Scent Work team, anyway?
This topic has been on my mind this week as it came up in back-to-back in person NW1 Trial Prep classes I was instructing. One student made the comment, "I don't know why people worry about what to do at a trial, the dog does all of the work, we don't have to do anything".
The start of a New Year is a great time to set goals, put new plans in place and quit some bad habits both in our personal lives and our dog training! I think New Year's Resolutions are meant to be broken…but plans and goals are not!
I truly believe that no matter what kind of dog training you're doing, it should always be FUN for both you and your dog. I'm not a fan of "training for trial." Of course, there's a time and a place for that, but it shouldn't be the norm. My schedule doesn't always cooperate, but I'm really trying to make my in-person classes more fun and game driven and offering more "Mock Trials" or "Sniff n' Gos" for students to get that "trial-like" feeling.
What is the secret to crafting a Stellar Scent Work team? Is it owning a certain breed of dog? Following someone's system to the letter? Practicing for hours a day? Trialing every weekend? I don't think it should be so difficult. This is what I think the secret formula is: A dog that loves to play the game + a handler that can make that happen. Sounds pretty easy, right?