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Ep. 17: Winding Training Journey

Ep. 17: Winding Training Journey

No training journey is in a straight line. Regardless of whether you are a professional trainer, instructor or an experienced competitor, there are oftentimes turns, detours, about-turns and more.

In this episode, we speak with Scent Work University Instructor, Lori Timberlake, to learn more about her own personal training journey and highlight the importance of continual learning and building a strong foundation.

Podcast Episode

Podcast Transcript

Dianna L Santos: Welcome everyone to the All About Scent Work podcast. This is where we talk about all things Scent Work. That can include training trips, a behind the scenes look at what your instructor or trial official is going through, and much more. In this episode, we're going to be talking with one of our instructors, Lori Timberlake, and she's going to be discussing her training journey as far as Scent Work is concerned.

Dianna L Santos: Before we start diving into the podcast, let me just hand it over to Lori to allow her to do a very quick introduction of herself so you know a little bit more about Lori. Take it away, Lori

Lori Timberlake: Hello. I'm Lori Timberlake. I am an instructor for SWU, and I also teach in-person classes out in Buffalo, New York. That's about all I have to say right now. You're going to hear a whole lot more about me pretty soon.

Dianna L Santos: Perfect. That is a very fine introduction. It will be good because then our questions can kind of flesh this out a bit more, just so people can have a little bit more understanding about your journey into Scent Work. I think that it's really helpful for people to understand that even for professional trainers, instructors, competitors who have been competing for a while, oftentimes it's not a straight line, and I think that your story's really interesting.

Dianna L Santos: Let's start at the beginning. How long have you actually been training in Scent Work or Nose Work?

Lori Timberlake: Since 2011.

Dianna L Santos: Why was it that you actually first started getting involved in it? Was there a thing that you were like, "Wow, this looks really interesting?" Did you just fall into? What actually got you started?

Lori Timberlake: A couple of different things. I had recently got Daisy. She became mine. That's just the way I say it. She had a long journey before she came to me. I had another dog at the time, and she was quite the sniffer, and we were doing a lot of obedience and everything else, but every time I walked her her nose was always to the ground, and I just... I was looking into tracking, we did a little bit of that. Then a local bed bug company was looking for a trainer to handle their dog, so I really started looking into Scent Work then and I kept finding this canine Nose Work when I was doing all my searches. So I was looking and like, "Oh wow, there's actually a sport you can do where dogs can find things. That's kind of neat."

Lori Timberlake: Everything kind of fell through with the bed bug detection, but I did a lot of research when I was looking into that, and then we... I used to be a part of a dog club, and we would try to bring presenters in, and try to always bring new different things. We brought in another trainer's friend who was doing some Scent Work seminars, and that's how I kind of got started.

Dianna L Santos: You really were involved in the pretty early stages of the sport. Would that be fair to say?

Lori Timberlake: Yeah. Especially on the east coast. There really wasn't a whole lot of opportunity out here at all.

Dianna L Santos: Everything first started for you in formally getting involved in this as far as training was concerned. What was the approaches that were being shown to you or that really piqued your interest?

Lori Timberlake: The seminar that started everything was all I knew, and he was... I think he was a maybe former CNWI, or I think he might've been with K9 Nose Work when they started, and then moved out east. What he was showing us, I'm calling it like a hybrid canine Nose Work kind of setup. But it was only a seminar. Then we worked via email together, and I was kind of working with Daisy with the stuff he showed us. It was following pretty much the canine Nose Work methodology. But we were kind of doing it on our own without a whole lot of backup.

Dianna L Santos: Could you just go into a little bit more detail about what that is? Because now there's just so many different schools of thought.

Lori Timberlake: Exactly.

Dianna L Santos: Yeah. If we could just go into as much detail as possible just so that people could really have an understanding of what it is. When you first started, what was it that you were doing with Daisy?

Lori Timberlake: We did start with food in boxes, although we were starting right off the bat with mailer boxes but they were open. I think we were using pizza boxes actually that were open. But one thing that was a little different was right away we were closing the boxes with the food inside, so we can probably talk about that a little bit later. She was looking for the food in the box, and then we were opening it right away, and she could feed. She could eat the food. Then we were adding odor pretty soon, and then because I was working on my own, and then I would forget and gee, one time I forgot to put food with the odor and she found just the odor. This is probably just weeks of doing this, so we really rushed through. And I was like, "Oh, she already knows what odor is," so then I stopped pairing the food and the odor and just putting the odor out. Then as far as hide setting and things like that, I didn't know what I was doing. I put a hide super high. "Hey, let's see if she can find this."

Lori Timberlake: Then I'm like, "Well how do I tell if she really found it or not?" So there was just a lot of questions in the beginning. But it was starting with food and then pairing, but just a much more condensed version of it if that makes sense.

Dianna L Santos: That makes perfect sense. I think it's a very similar thing that, I know for me personally, where you look back and you're like, "How did my dog... How were they able to do any of this?" You have so many questions in the beginning, and, particularly very early on, there weren't that many answers to those questions.

Lori Timberlake: I can elaborate on that also. I think at that time the first canine Nose Work camps were coming out on the east coast, and I kept looking into them, and they were always in September, and that was always a bad month for me, like I always had something going on. And it was hard finding seminars. I mean it was just hard getting more information at the time. I was just trying to keep my dog... Then this is awful, but of course, then I was teaching classes right away, and they were just searching for food at the time. I wasn't even adding odor at that point. I don't know how any of us got through that. It was so poorly started. We just kind of, "Let's see what happens." And luckily, they all did okay, and Daisy did okay. But it was just a lot of lack of information at that time, and it was hard to get more information at that time.

Dianna L Santos: I think this is really important for people to understand. I think that at that time, because I also lived on the east coast at that time, and it just seemed as though Nose Work, because that's what it was mainly called, was over on the west coast, and every once in a blue moon we would get this... It would be like this bright light of, "Oh look, people who know what they're doing. This is so great." And then they would go back again. It was just like this void of information, and it wasn't anything purposeful, but it was just the way that it was perceived.

Dianna L Santos: I think that's a really important thing for people to understand with AKC coming on the scene and now CPE is getting involved, and SDS, Sniffing Dog Sports, has just handed over their competition to a new person who's going to be building out their organization. And just understanding that if you're coming at this and there's this mishmash of availability of information and resources, we all get really excited, and we all want to rush forward and do things, but that may not be the best way of doing it.

Dianna L Santos: What I would love to know is because you'd have that beginning of it, were there questions that you had at any point early on in this process of, "Well I'm not sure if this is working?" Or were there things that you were noticing that maybe there were holes in the training, there was something that you were looking for something else, so maybe you tried different approaches? What was your journey like in those very early stages?

Lori Timberlake: Early, but a couple of years after that. We were very slow. We were very slow starting, even with the classes. We'd do one class and then there wouldn't be interest. Only one person would want to continue, so then we'd hold off. Classes were slow. I didn't do a ton with Daisy, and then I got a little bit more into it and we entered our first ORT, so that's when things started picking up a little bit. ORT, fine. We entered our first trial. And even up until that point, she did really well. She passed three out of four elements. The fourth one was one of those wares. And that's when there was... It wasn't a requirement for NW1 to have a trained alert, but we were working on a down, so she did this perfect down in front of a wheelbarrow, but she was six inches away from where the hide was, which nowadays that probably would've been a yes, but back then it was a no.

Lori Timberlake: After the first trial is when I really... That's when I saw the holes and what we needed to change, and what I saw other... We also volunteered that weekend, so watching everybody else, that's when my eyes opened and we started making some changes, so probably 2013, '14, something like that.

Dianna L Santos: Then what specifically do you think were the things that you wanted to change or adjust in your training from that experience?

Lori Timberlake: Right after that trial is when we decided to get rid of the, and I think that's almost when the rules change, right around that time, we had to get rid of the trained alert. That was the first thing. And I just wanted to reward her for going to source and just staying there, so we worked a lot on that, and almost not rewarding her when she tried to go into a down. But that's when other methodologies came out, and there was a little bit more information. So I started following those so I could have more of a plan for my classes, and I kind of restarted Daisy back at the beginning. And it wasn't that anything was bad or wrong. We did well at that trial. I just felt as an instructor I need to get my act together so that I can actually give people some information, because I was just working off of what I was picking up here and there. I don't know if it was even holes, but just more information that I wanted to get a better program together for my students

Dianna L Santos: I think that makes total sense. One thing that I'm hoping that people who are listening can understand is that instructors are not born omnipotent. You don't just come onto the planet and just know everything. We're learning too, and if there's one thing that's true with all dog training. I don't care what it is, it's constantly changing and shifting and fluxing and adjusting. There should always be a constant looking for knowledge and information on how to make things better and cleaner and so on and so forth. It's not as though it's odd to hear the instructors are learning from other people or that they're adjusting their take or anything else. That's actually a good thing. I just hope that people listening understand that part, and that it's actually a great sign, as an instructor, to be like, "You know what? I want to have a I guess more thorough understanding of what this is, so if I get a question from a student I can actually answer it."

Dianna L Santos: What was the difference as far as how you had started Daisy with... What were some of the new approaches that you were now using?

Lori Timberlake: Actually, I'm just going to backup a second too. Also at that time I was teaching all kinds of classes. Nose Work was just this extra fun thing. It wasn't like it is now, where it's like this is my focus in life. So it was like a small group that just wanted to come out and let their dogs have fun. It wasn't the focus either, if that helps at all, because I may be sounding bad, like, "You were teaching a class and you had no idea what you were doing." But it was just like this extra fun thing. Nose Work wasn't at all what it is today.

Lori Timberlake: What did we start doing different? I kind of went back to the beginning. I wasn't pairing anymore, but I was just really focusing on her going to odor and getting in quick and paying. I still at that time probably wasn't working so much on handling. I just wanted really good odor obedience. We would do really simple exercises where we would just have maybe three or four containers out, and one would have odor, one would have food, one would be blank, and one would have a dog toy in it, and we would just keep mixing them up. I just focused on her going to odor. I think that really helped with odor obedience. I think that helped my students with odor obedience, just kind of going back and just teaching them odor is important, but now we weren't focusing so much on the search and the handling and the hunt drive and things like that. That's where that balance shifted a little bit, is when we right back to focusing on odor.

Dianna L Santos: That makes total sense. Really having the dog understand, "This is the thing I would like you to find."

Lori Timberlake: Yeah.

Dianna L Santos: How long would you say that you were doing that approach, where you were basically breaking it down to, "I just want you to find this thing, and all this other stuff you don't need to worry about?"

Lori Timberlake: That went on for a little bit, and then things changed with my business too, where there were some other people in the area kind of teaching fun searching for food classes, and so I was getting a lot of students from other places, so then I had this whole mix. I had my people that were with me for a little while, I had new people that wanted to try it, and then I had people that came from other places. I just started having these mixed classes, and that's probably more where we got back into the searching, and I would go back to the new people coming in or the new people starting, and we'd do this focus on odor, and then they'd get mixed in the other classes, where we were again back to working on leash handling and back to working on searching and doing more fun games and adding a little more fun into the classes, and not just, "This is odor, and you must go to it, and you will get paid when you go there."

Lori Timberlake: At that point we probably... I can't even say how long we were just doing that, but it was probably a few classes, and then we started getting all these mixed groups in. It was kind of an interesting time. Then I was still doing food classes for people that just wanted to search for primary, people who just wanted to come in, take one class. They weren't going to stay with me for a while. They just wanted to say they did Nose Work. We were still doing that too, but the more advanced students were right on odor, so I had kind of a mix there also.

Dianna L Santos: So you had different classes basically starting different ways, so people who were just in it, like, "Oh, I just want my dog to be able to sniff, and then we're going to be done," they're starting on food. And the people who said, "Oh no, I really want to do this," they're starting on odor?

Lori Timberlake: Yeah. Because I might have maybe one person that would do the food classes, maybe one that would want to continue, so then they would start in the just odor class. But I could never get a group of six to go from the food class into the odor class. I kind of mixed them up, kind of a sport group and then the pet group, that's kind of how it went.

Dianna L Santos: That's actually a really good thing for people to understand too, is when you're listening to this don't think that this is just all happening in a bubble. All of this was happening across the country at that time, because again, in the very beginning stages, as instructors, I think that... Again talking for an entire community when I have no right to do so, but it was obvious that this was beneficial and that it was a good thing to offer, but it was also really difficult to convince people don't you want to sign up for any length of class where we're going to place food out for your dog to find, and wouldn't you like to part with your money in order to do that?

Dianna L Santos: But if you could then have the sexier thing of having them find odor, that allowed people to really say, "That looks cool." Finding a hotdog's not quite so cool, finding food, eh, whatever. But finding odor is actually really fun. To have that difference of approach as far as having people want to shift over is actually really common, and I think it really helped shift the way that all the classes were being formed everywhere. I don't think that this is just some weird thing like, "Wow, Lori had this really strange experience." It's actually really common.

Lori Timberlake: It was really hard to get people to pay me to have that... Because most of the people that would want to take that class were people that already did that at home. They already did it. So they didn't want to pay money to have their dog search for food in a class when they could do it at home.

Dianna L Santos: I think that again, particularly in the beginning, we weren't as a community, just as dog owners, and not just instructors but anyone having a dog, didn't quite understand all of the intricacies that goes into it the way that we were do now, where now we're like, "Oh there's airflow, and oh there's this, and oh there's..." That wasn't a part of it. It literally was, "Okay, as an instructor I'm going to go in. Okay, we're going to put a hide there, let's see what the dogs do." There wasn't an expectation. So I think that it's really interesting to hear the way that all these things were happening very organically when all of this first hit the scene, because you were right there in the beginning. That's really, really interesting.

Dianna L Santos: Now we're at the point where you have some people who are coming to you brand new who are doing food, but not many. Then you have other people who are starting on odor and they're focusing on their odor obedience. Maybe then they're doing some other fun games. From there, where do you think that your training shifted to?

Lori Timberlake: Then I was trialing more, I'm hosting more, I'm getting more involved, I'm going to more seminars, and all of the people... I hosted a lot of seminars, and everyone I brought in was, "Well I would pair that, well I would pair that," and my students would be like, "What's pairing?" So then we would do some of it in class and they're like, "Oh, we don't want to do that, because our dogs can't find the distractor," and I'm like, "Oh, okay. I understand." So I was kind of letting them dictate my classes for a little while.

Lori Timberlake: I can't even say how many years. I will say I had a whole bunch of students probably get their one, twos and threes on the odor only approach, I want to say. Probably, I don't know, three years of that maybe, something like that. Some of my advanced students right now started on just odor. It's the new group now, probably in the last year, where I've gone back to canine Nose Work methodologies, and we're starting with food, and I'm explaining it better because I understand the process better. Before I felt like, "I don't want to teach something that I just don't know the answers to. I don't think it's a bad program." I just don't know how to explain it to my students where I gain more information the more education I got for myself, and that's when the shift started.

Lori Timberlake: So I would say we probably went maybe a good three years of odor only, starting on odor only.

Dianna L Santos: Now that you've been doing this for a while as far as having these different batches of people, who have all been started in a different way, is there any sort of distinction between them? Do you notice any trends as far as each group is concerned? Because the fact of the matter is that everything works in theory. But I think every approach, you have different things you have to be considerate of. It'd be really interesting to hear what you may have noticed as far as comparing those two groups.

Lori Timberlake: One thing I can say with Daisy, and I look at this now and think I wish I had done things differently, is close hides and difficult problems. I think had we spent more time on primary and pairing, she'd be able to solve those problems better, because now we're seeing all of these close hides and trials, and some days she gets them, some days she gets one and blows by the next, and then she gets the next one and blows by the next close one. For me personally, my next dog, definitely I'm going to spend a lot more time on primary and pairing and working out those problems at that stage, and not trying to fix them way later in our career. That's one thing I've noticed with her. I think her problem solving would be better had we had a better foundation. And she just had a horrible foundation anyways, because were all over the place learning as we went, so I don't know if it even would've mattered, because I had no idea what I was doing back then.

Lori Timberlake: But for my students, my advanced students are good. They are good. Of course, I'm sure they're saying the same as me. There's certain things they wish they probably could have changed. But as far as my new batch, the new batch that has started on primary, they just seem faster. They're more confident. They're solving problems, they're just so much more independent than the ones that started on odor. I'm curious to see, as we do this longer, how they... I mean none of them are... Actually, some of them are competing. Some of them have started competing USCSS and AKC, and they're cleaning up. They're doing really well. And they just started in the fall on primary, and are already competing, and they are doing amazing, actually. They haven't done any CSW yet. But I'm curious to see how their careers go. But that's what I see, just a faster, more independent dog, definitely.

Dianna L Santos: It's interesting to hear about your journey, because obviously things have not been in a straight line trajectory. You started off, were like, "Oh, this looks like kind of fun," and then you did all these other things, and then you were like, "Okay, well now I want to do something a little bit different because I want to have a different result." Then you said, "Okay, well now I need to do something else entirely." What would you suggest to someone who is a dog owner, and they are looking into getting into this? Would you suggest that they also just experiment with different approaches with their dog, or would you suggest that it would be better to maybe just do one approach through a certain period of time with their dog before they leap into something else?

Dianna L Santos: Basically, a quicker way of asking that question is should I just be sticking with one approach for a certain period of time, or should I just be jumping all over the place?

Lori Timberlake: Good question. Up until this point, I still didn't really follow a certain methodology to the extreme. I still would pair with some... If some dog just wasn't... If they were super shy or nervous or didn't want to leave their owners, I would pair. But then they'd feel bad, like, "Well how come nobody else is pairing, and my dog has to pair?" I didn't want them to feel like... whatever. I have all the way done different things. I think starting out on primary and getting the hunt drive and getting the dog independent isn't going to hurt anybody. If you want to enter a trial tomorrow, yeah, you can start on odor. It's fine. It's not going to hurt anything either. But I think if you're in this for the long run... I see it myself with Daisy. I missed that foundation, and now, it's falling apart. I mean it's not falling apart. We're doing okay. But I can definitely see the holes.

Lori Timberlake: So yeah, go out and try different things. That's fine. Every dog is different. Every handler's different. But whatever you're doing, make sure you get a good foundation in, and I think starting with primary, whether you do it for six weeks or a year, at least getting that start in, it teaches the dogs to search without you interfering. I guess that's kind of a wishy washy answer to that, but yeah, you can definitely try different things, but start with a good foundation.

Dianna L Santos: I think that's true with everything as far as dog training is concerned. If you don't have a foundation, then everything's just going to fall apart at some point. I think what I've noticed for Scent Work competitions is you really don't start noticing some of those holes until you're really high up in competition. You can get through the NW1s, NW2s, maybe even an NW3, and then all of a sudden it's like, "Wow, we don't have this, that or the other thing," and you're already years in, and now you're going to be stagnant up there for a while. That's really deflating for people. So if you can have a foundation that you're solid on, regardless of your approach, then that's what your goal should be.

Dianna L Santos: As far as people who have multiple dogs, and maybe they want to figure out which approach would be best, do you think that it would be advantageous for them to try one approach with one dog and another approach with another? Should they try the same approach with multiple dogs and then make adjustments as they go? Because I know there are going to be people who will be like, "Just tell me what to do. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to approach this? There's too many options. Just tell me which one to do," which of course is really possible to do.

Lori Timberlake: I know. That's so hard, that's so hard, because there's no right and wrong answers. Well, there might be some wrong answers in dog training. I've had that. I've had several students that either have come through maybe their original... We've been doing this so long a lot of the original dogs have passed away unfortunately, and now they're coming back with new dogs. So they might have started one way with the first dog and a different way with the second dog. I've had even just recently in the last year, people with two different dogs that are like, "Your class already changed from the last time I took it, and it was only six months ago." I'm always adding and changing.

Lori Timberlake: Is it advantageous to try different ways? I mean I guess every dog does learn differently, but no dog's going to go wrong starting in primary. If you want to change things from there, if you want to take a speedier course with one dog and then build a better foundation with another, or maybe one is just your pet dog or your older dog that you're not going to compete with, you might do something different where there's a trial next weekend that you want to enter, you might do something different with the other. But again you're hurting your foundation if you try to rush that much.

Lori Timberlake: I mean they're your dogs, so I guess you can train them however you want. But I don't know if it's advantageous to do different things with different dogs, unless they're... If one maybe has medical issues, and you know they're not going to compete, you can definitely take things slower. Maybe that's a way to answer that. Do more primaries. Spread it out longer. Do more pairing with that dog. And maybe do a little faster, still start on primary, but move into odor a little quicker with the other. You can definitely do things like that. But I don't know if starting with two different total methodologies with two different dogs in the same household, unless you really just want to do an experiment, and then you would know your answer for the next dog, I guess.

Dianna L Santos: That's true. There are no absolutes. But I think that there is absolutely something to be said for having a little bit of consistency, and having just even expectations as a person, because this is actually a question that I received from someone who does have multiple dogs and they were interested in getting involved but they wanted to figure out which approach was quote, unquote, the best. And there is no the best. It's all very personalized. So my concern with trying to have someone do two different approaches is that that's assuming that you actually know how to do those two approaches. You don't just have to master one, you have to master two.

Dianna L Santos: That would be my only concern with people with trying to do multiple things, is really have a good understanding, at least the basics of it, so that if things were to go left, you knew how to adjust, or how to even figure out if things weren't working out for your dog. That's hard enough when you're just trying to do one thing. It's magnified if you're trying to do multiples. So it's not that it's necessarily a bad thing. It's just something you want to be mindful of, that it may not be the best idea. But again, they're your dogs. You can do whatever you like with them.

Lori Timberlake: That's what I tell my students. Like, "I'm going to give you information. I'm going to tell you what I think works best. But they're your dogs. What you do with them at home is what you do with them at home. So I'm just here for the information I have."

Dianna L Santos: As far as your own continuing education and learning, what kind of things are you looking into right now?"

Lori Timberlake: I am halfway through my CNWI course, so I'm looking forward to coming back to the west coast this summer to finish that up. I think I have three seminars I'm going to in the next couple of months. And honestly, I'm going to start running a different dog, who is completely different than my dog. Hopefully I am going to run him. He's a mastiff, our other dog that we live with here. I think that will be a huge learning experience for me, to just run a dog that's different than what I'm used to, and who has started differently. He has his own quirks, and we have to learn how to work together. I feel as an instructor, I've only worked really one dog, I've only competed with one dog, that I really need the experience of different breeds and different shapes and sizes and working styles, and that's what I'm kind of looking forward to in the next year.

Dianna L Santos: And that's a really good point, is... Again, Lori is not some monolith here. She's not just on some island. This is very common. I am one of the very rare instructors who only has one dog. I've only ever had one dog since I've been a professional trainer. It's a different experience to run a dog than to instruct a class, so it's not that rare for instructors to not have multiple dogs to run. You learn something completely different every single time you run a different dog, because there's different communications, there's different ways that you hunt. I mean there's some dogs who are lefties, some dogs who are righties. Every dog's going to have different strengths and weaknesses.

Dianna L Santos: So, for people who may be listening who are not professionals, just understand that whatever experience you're having with the dog that you're running now, if you were to get another dog or if you have another dog in your household that you then want to run, that experience may be completely different, and that's okay. That's not a bad thing. That's actually expected.

Dianna L Santos: As far as your overall training drain, was there anything about it when you're looking back that you would have wished something had happened a little bit differently, and in addition to that, are there things that you really appreciate happened the way that they did?

Lori Timberlake: Yeah. I wish I had a better foundation. It was just a hard time. I wasn't a full-time trainer back then, so had to spend thousands of dollars to try to make it to camps and seminars and things like that when again Nose Work was just kind of the side thing I was doing. I wish I had known then that this would be something that would be so important to me later on, so that... A better foundation would've been nice. Having more knowledge early on would've been nice. But I think I still am very proud of... I think you just said earlier about something else, I'm not on an island, but I am kind of on an island. Out where I live, at the time, and even still now, there's a few other schools locally doing some Scent Work classes, but there's not a whole lot going on. Everything's like six hours away.

Lori Timberlake: I'm kind of proud of what I've built, and I'm proud of my students for going as far as they have and doing so well in trials, and even myself, kind of self-taught, as far as we got with Daisy, as badly as I've screwed her up, that we're almost ending our elite career pretty soon. I'm very proud of what we did. I just... It would've been a lot better with a better foundation.

Dianna L Santos: I think that's a really great thing to underline, is we can't learn unless we're able to look back to figure out what we need to learn. We need to figure out what may not have gone 100% the way that we would've liked, so that we can figure out how to go better in the future. I would say that again, you're very accomplished with what you've done. You're very accomplished with what you have done with your own personal dog and with your students, and your students are benefiting from your journey, and that's something that I'm hoping that everyone listening can really appreciate, is you want to have instructors in my humble opinion who have actually had these types of journeys and these types of experiences, so that they can appreciate when you may also be struggling, because it makes them human.

Dianna L Santos: You can actually ask Lori questions. You can say, "Hey, I'm having this issue," either with training and competition. And she's approachable. And she actually understands, because she may have gone through something that's somewhat similar. And that's a good thing. She also can give you the guidance in the beginning of your training to say, "Okay, you know those three left turns I took that I didn't need to? You don't need to take those. You can avoid all of that." The reason why I really wanted to put this podcast together was to show everyone a couple of things. The first is that, and this is just a big pet peeve of mine, but I think it's a good thing to outline, is that instructors are human beings. None of us are perfect. We don't fall out of the sky and know everything. That our training journeys are not linear. None of us are.

Dianna L Santos: And that change is not a bad thing. Being able to evaluate where you are, and say, "Well okay, this is working and that's working, but that not so much. Let me see what I can do here." And then understanding that different techniques may very well work, but there may be different benefits to different techniques, and it may be beneficial for some dogs than others. It doesn't make anything evil or wrong. It just means that there may be certain benefits to those things. And understanding that again nothing is linear... is actually a really helpful thing for people to really grasp.

Dianna L Santos: Was there anything, Lori, that you wanted to share with people as a general hole as far as anything that you see as an instructor for Scent Work or Nose Work that would be beneficial for them, that you just happen to see across the board and you're like, "Ugh, I just wish that everyone would just understand this one thing?" Is there anything like that that you'd like to share?

Lori Timberlake: Several. I'll try to keep it short. But one, stop rushing. Everybody stop rushing. Everybody's trying to get so fast, and just enter trials tomorrow. And I understand, and it looks very easy when you start. Like I said, I just said it earlier, I have a bunch of students that started in the fall, and they're cleaning up, and the novice level, AKC, USCSS. I don't know if anybody's done any PSD. UKC. Yeah, you can do really well in a trial, but that doesn't mean you should be just rushing ahead and jumping into everything. Slow down. Stay at that novice level. Keep learning. Don't try to force too much on your dog. Just stop the rushing. Stop the rushing. Take your time. The flip side, and you hear a lot of people complaining about this, is, "Well my dog is four-years-old, and has its elite championship. What do I do now?" And I've seen people that all the way up in detective class in AKC. It only came out a year and a half, two years ago. So slow down, enjoy the process.

Lori Timberlake: That's one thing. Then the other thing is there is so much information out now. I mean we have Scent Work University. There's a bazillion classes and webinars and seminars and podcasts. The information is readily available. There are seminars. I'm going to three seminars in the next two months. Where back then there might be one seminar a year that I had to drive eight hours to go to. There's a lot more information now, so do it. Go get some learning, even if you audit at a seminar.

Lori Timberlake: I used to say this all the time, I learned so much volunteering at trials. That first trial that I went to that I volunteered one day and competed the other, I came back and my mind was blown, just from talking to people in the parking lot, and talking to people waiting for the awards to come out. I learned so much just with that, not even watching the trial, because I had no idea what I was looking at at NW3 at that point, which was the day I volunteered for, but I just gained so much information at a trial. So go to seminars, go to trials, learn as much as you can. There's a lot more information out there. You don't have to struggle like I did. It's readily available, so take everyone up on it.

Dianna L Santos: I think those are all really important things for people to walk away with, is this should be a process. It should be something that you enjoy and take your time with, and it's... I think that the point that you made with the young dogs who are already completely done in some venues... Just think of the loss that is for the person and the dog, because unless you're going to just do it for fun at home, which I'm a huge proponent for, but then there's just reality of life is really busy, and we only have so many hours in the day, and we have to have motivations to do things, and if you're already at the top of whatever chosen venue that you decide to do, or multiple even, what's the likelihood you're still going to play the sniffy game with your dog?

Dianna L Santos: Then think of the loss that is to your dog, because this is one of the activities where they are celebrated for being them. We're not making them do all this other stuff that they sure, maybe they can do, but it's not what they're designed to do. It's not what is in their DNA. I'm just going to piggyback on what you were saying. Don't rush. Take your time, enjoy the journey. And absolutely, go out and learn. And the one thing that I'm just again, going to harp on a little bit is take things that you think apply for you and your dog, and if there's something that you just don't think that it applies for you, you don't have to burn up everything that that person said.

Dianna L Santos: Maybe take the things that you like, and then leave the other stuff behind, or maybe just put it in your back pocket for a rainy day. Maybe it will apply later, or to a different dog. Maybe you'll change your mind. But it doesn't mean that unless someone says 100% of the things that you like, you can't listen to them otherwise. That's simply not true. It's not an all or nothing sort of thing. So if we can just as a community, be a little bit better with how we take in information, I think that'd be really helpful as well.

Dianna L Santos: I want to thank Lori for joining us for this podcast today. It was a very interesting conversation, and it's always wonderful to hear about the different training journeys everyone goes on. Thank you so much for listening. Happy training. I look forward to seeing you soon.