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!
Scent Work University Blog
In case you are not aware, Dobermans melt in the rain. As in, they develop what is lovingly referred to as airplane ears, they squint and freeze in place. That is assuming you were actually able to get them outside in the first place. Many a Doberman has suffered from practically bursting bladders from their utter refusal to potty when it is even slightly drizzling outside.
You're training in Scent Work. You may or may not be interested in eventually competing. Working on your own, your dog is now working to find target odors. You then come across a post talking about how important it is for trial officials to be careful with their odors. You read about how trial officials should wear gloves, have other people open and close doors for them, and how they should be mindful of where they put their odor kit in regard to the search area itself…the list of all the things a trial official should do to be as careful as they can goes on and on, and on and on!
Let me stress that Scent Work is a truly incredible activity. It taps into an innate instinct. It provides a much needed mental and physical outlet for our canine companions. And, as a sport, it is open to "reactive" dogs. However, this also means we must advocate for our dogs, always.
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.
Nothing like starting off a blog post with a bang…
Alright, once again it is time for some real-talk. The sniffing game is just that, a game. No matter how many titles or accolades you earn, you are still playing a game with your dog and creating memories. We're not finding dead bodies or bombs at Scent Work trials. We are not certifying our dogs to join a FEMA or SAR team. We are having fun with our dogs and testing our training. This is a simple truth, and I think (and hope) we can all agree on that.
There is no question the sport of Scent Work is exploding in popularity. More and more people are finding out about this wonderful dog sport, and getting started in their own training and practice sessions. All of that is a wonderful thing…with a few serious drawbacks.
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?