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Ep. 4: The Ideal Competitor

Have you ever been to a Scent Work trial, and the atmosphere was just...wrong? Everyone seemed stressed and miserable, and a dark cloud hung over everyone and everything? There are plenty of reasons why this can happen, but you as a competitor can help prevent it!

In this episode, we discuss what Scent Work trial officials dread, and in so doing, showcasing what they would deem the "ideal competitor", the competitor who refrains from doing some of the very things that can drag a trial down. Now, that is not to say all the blame or responsibility lies at the feet of the competitors. Nothing could be further from the truth! But, this is a topic not many competitors think about, or give enough credence to. You, as the competitor, are a crucial part of the puzzle to ensure your Scent Work trial goes well! So let's figure what you should do, and pitfalls to avoid.

Podcast Episode

Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the Scent Work University All About Scent Work podcast. In this podcast we'll be talking about all things Scent Work. We'll be giving you behind the scenes look as far as what your instructor or trial officials may be going through, we'll be giving you training tips, and we'll just be discussing everything that goes along with doing Scent Work with your dog, whether you're interested in competition or not.

In this episode we're going to be talking about what officials would consider an ideal competitor at a Scent Work trial, and how you may be able to work towards becoming one of those ideal competitors. All right, let's get started.

Before we get started, I just want to take a really quick moment to introduce myself. My name is Dianna Santos. I'm the Owner and Lead Instructor for both Scent Work University and Dog Sport University. These are online dog training platforms that are designed to connect outstanding trainers with as many dog owners as possible. Both SWU and DSU are designed to provide quality, convenience, and flexibility. We hope that you'll check them out to see if there are any online programs that may be suitable for both you and your dog. Without further ado, let's dive into the podcast.

If you're competing in Scent Work, more often than not you've been at a trial where things just didn't seem to go all that well. Things went left. Everyone seemed stressed. The atmosphere wasn't all that great. Maybe there was some toxic people in the parking lot. Maybe there were just some other competitors who just didn't seem as though they were in this for the right reasons.

With this podcast what I want to talk about is from an official's perspective what it is that competitors can do in order to ensure that the trials don't ever get to that point. Now that's not say that all the responsibility lies in the shoulders of the competitors. That's not true. It is absolutely true that the competitors can be there in the right frame of mind, that officials could be there in the right frame of mind, and maybe the host isn't. Or maybe the host and the competitors are, but the officials aren't. It is definitely a group effort. If one of those elements is not working the way that it should, then it can affect the entire experience.

But what I'm hoping in this podcast to achieve is an understanding of just how important the competitors are to this whole formula, and that there are things that you can do to help improve the experience for everyone, and also it can help your overall performance because depending how it is you conduct yourself not only during the search but also in between the searches, could also affect the way that the official, be it your judge and even your hide placer, then conducts themselves throughout the day but also how they're approaching everything that they have to do. Because here's a little bit of a hint. They're just people too.

Again, the purpose of this podcast is to talk about some things that, again, I just don't think that enough people are thinking about or considering, and just to give you a behind the scenes look, if you've only done competing and you haven't been an official before, just some of the things that officials may be considering or even going through when they're actually officiating these trials.

Right out of the gate what I would like to do is to talk about some of the things that officials dread. This is again a general statement. This is not supposed to be covering everything under the sun, but just some things for you to keep in mind that as an official if they see these things happen, their skin starts to crawl, the hair goes up on the back of their neck, or they just go, "Oh, it's going to be one of those trials."

The reason why I want to start off with this is so we can kind of see just how unhelpful these things are in the first place. But you also may listen going, "I never do any of those things." And that's a good pat on the back for you. There really isn't that many people who do these things. I mean, just to be perfectly blunt. With the majority of trials that I've either officiated, overseen, or worked at, I would say the very mass majority of the competitors are very pleasant, they have a lot of sportsmanship, they are there to have a good time with their dogs, they're there for the right reasons, and they're doing it the right way, which is fabulous. There are going to be a few people who are just not doing any of those things.

The purpose of starting with this first section is to just talk about when officials see something and they go, "Oh no." If you happen to catch yourself doing those things, just know that that is something that usually puts off alarm bells for an official and that could also affect your performance overall. It could also affect the way that you're experiencing the trial as well as everybody else.

The first thing that as a judge, what I've noticed, what I've officiated that makes my alarm bells go off is when someone comes up to the start line and I say, "Oh, hi. Welcome to your so and so search. This is your start line. Here are your search area boundaries. You have this amount of time in order to find this many hides," if it's possibly known. "Do you have any questions?" And the person just stands there and goes, "Of course not." It's like, "Okay then. You may start when ready."

This is a tough one because as an official you may just say, "Well, maybe they're nervous." But we also see you walking up the start line. So if you're talking under your breath really angrily at your dog or at yourself or just life and then you're futzing with all of your stuff at the start line, we're trying to give you some information and then you bark at us, we're like, "Well then. Okay. You can go whenever you're ready and we'll just hope for the best." It just puts everyone's guard up and it gets everyone really super defensive.

The competitors that officials really dread are the ones who are very snarky, who bark a lot, who are very short, who don't want to even acknowledge the fact that you as an official may be taking extra time out to make certain that they don't have any questions, that you can set them at ease, that you can let them know like, "This is your search area. You don't have to go over there." Like, "If your dog wants to go over there for a little bit, maybe that's where odor is going, but there isn't a hide there."

And then lo and behold, those typically speaking are the competitors who end up going off into osh gosh because they weren't really paying attention, and then they're all angry when their dog either times out or they false alert and you're like, "I told you that that wasn't part of the search area to begin with."

The first big category that I would say for things that officials dread are competitors who are very short and they just seem angry. I mean, they just seem angry and nasty and just unpleasant. I think that's something that everyone can relate to, that trying to deal with someone who's like that is not fun. But as officials it's our responsibility to always be professional and to just take a deep breath and be like, "Okay, well start when ready," and to just let them do what they need to do during their search, and to also be understanding that for some people when they do get stressed or nervous, they do kind of sound really short and curt and just unpleasant. It's not that they have any malice behind it. It's just because they're nervous.

But understand that your official is not a robot. So if you were to do that and you were competitor number 30 and already 15 other people did the same exact thing to this official who's been out there in the elements for hours on end, working their butt off trying to make sure that this trial goes well, and now you come in and you start snapping at them, there is nothing to say that this person is not going to be like, "Okay, well, I just, I give up. Go on and search and you had better hope that you don't drop any treats." All of the empathy and the connection as a human being is lost and then it truly does become you are just in there as a sack of meat doing stuff with your dog and they are just this very judgmental person on the outside, and that's not ideal on any level.

If you do happen to find yourself getting really stressed and worked up about something, I would urge you to take a nice deep breath before you go to your search. That'll help you and your dog anyway. But definitely try to make certain that you aren't being really super negative to your official. It's just not a good idea just generally speaking. But just know that these are people too. It just can affect the entire atmosphere of the whole trial, but it really could negatively affect your search.

The other thing that officials dread overall are competitors who do not seem to know the rules at all. Now it's very confusing right now in the world of Scent Work, particularly in the United States, in that Scent Work has exploded in popularity which is wonderful, and there are now eight, count them, eight titling organizations in the United States alone, which is great. That means that there's more opportunities for everyone to play, there's lots of different things that maybe I prefer to go over here and do this thing, but now I can go over there and I can do that thing as well. All that is great.

The only problem is is that there are differences from organization to organization. Some organizations are newer than others and they're still figuring out what it is that they want to be able to do within their organization to meet their standards. Maybe they wanted to try something, it looked great on paper, but now it doesn't look so great in practice. They may also be updating their rules.

Regardless, when you sign up for a trial as a competitor, it is your responsibility to know the rules that are effective for that trial forwards and backwards and sideways and underneath. It's just you have to understand the rules.

As an official it is extraordinarily stressful when you have competitors throughout various stages of the trial clearly showing that they have no idea what the rules are. There's a big difference between someone who just doesn't know what the rules are but just kind of goes with the flow. And it's a whole other situation where a competitor hasn't taken the time to understand the rules, they don't know the rules. They also don't care to know the rules, oh and by the way, they're really upset because they wanted to be able to do what they want to do and it doesn't matter if it's in complete contradiction to what the rules are. It's everyone else's fault but this person.

That is something that just makes the officials hair catch on fire because you want to be able to help someone so that they could be successful. Because here's another little secret. Most officials who are very good, vast majority of them, want you to succeed. They want your dog to succeed as well. If you do happen to seem a little lost, they will be happy to help you. But that's really complicated if you don't even know the bare basics of what the rules are for the trial they are entered in and that you don't seem to care to want to know and that you now want to be able to do what you want to do, even though that's not what the rules allow you to do.

I'll give you an example. There was a trial that I ... for an organization that I work with. An official contacted me and they told me, "I was officiating this search. I gave my little run down for the search before the person went in to do the search. They were doing their search and not even 10 seconds in they called alert. It was a false alert. That wasn't where the hide was. So I told them, "I'm sorry no, but you can reward your dog over here." The person said, "Oh okay," and they just keep walking and kept searching in the search area.

So the official went up to them and said, "Oh I'm sorry, the search is done. But if you want to reward your dog where the hide is, this is where the hide is." And the person said, "This isn't what we do in class. If I call false alert in class, I get to keep searching." It's like, "But this isn't class. This is a trial, so if you want to bring your dog back over to the hide to reward them that'll be great."

This person, the competitor lost it. I mean yelling and screaming and turned into hysterical crying. It was bad. It was just bad. This official, and I give them a lot of credit, calmed them down, explained to them the difference between trialing and training, and by the end of it the person was fine. But now this official was completely flustered for the rest of the trial because this had happened. Whereas if the competitor had simply read the rules and maybe even asked a question during the briefing, then all of this could have been avoided.

As an official, it is super stressful when it's clear that people have no idea what the rules are. Now, I want to stress that being confused it's not something that you should be ashamed of or you should be worried about. If you are confused about something the day before the trial, make some notes and there's often times a lot of Facebook groups or other social media or even just contact information for the actual organization itself. Contact those people, reach out, and ask those questions. Try to get clarification. If you don't get clarification or it doesn't answer all of your questions, then bring them up during the briefing.

Please have your questions answered before you actually start running. Now that doesn't mean you get to not read any of the rules and just show up at the briefing and just start asking, "So, what is it that we have to do?" Like you do have to actually read the rules and understand them, but if you have a question, ask as early in this process as you possibly can because if you're trying to ask those kinds of questions while you're trying to search, your official isn't going to be able to answer you. It's just not a good thing for you or your dog to be doing. You should be concentrating on searching, you should be concentrating on reading your dog and figuring out what are they doing, not trying to say, "Oh, I don't know what the rule is for such and such."

Again, as far as officials, something that happens almost at every single trial is there are people who aren't reading the rules, who aren't familiar with the rules, and they are not taking the steps to actually familiarize themselves with the rules ahead of time, and they're almost expecting everyone to pick up the slack around them. That's not how it works. So please, if you are competing in any venue, particularly if you're competing in multiple venues, read upon the rules the week before you go to the trial. And then if you have questions, post them to some of those Facebook groups. Contact the organization directly. You can even contact the person who's hosting the trial, and if they don't have the answers, then they can reach out to someone who does. But it's your responsibility to really know what the rules are so that you and your dog can be successful.

Something else that officials dread, typically judges because they're the ones who see this more often than not, are the competitors who are really super disorganized. Now, I want to say this with a caveat, that things happen where maybe you were keeping track of your spot in the run order and suddenly three dogs just flew through and you thought you had 10 minutes and now you have one minute. I mean, you were watching it like a hawk and everything was great and then all of a sudden it's your turn to go into the staging area. You have your whole routine all set out, but now it's all befuddled. So you're all frazzled yourself, you're trying to get yourself all together, and you rush to the staging area because you don't want to make anyone wait and you're all just out of sorts.

What you want to do is you want to breathe and just take your time. As an official, personally I can usually tell the difference between someone who something like that happened where it was something completely out of their control, they were trying to do the right thing and now they're suddenly in the area going, "I guess it's my turn," and they're trying to get themselves together, and someone who wasn't paying attention to the run order, who didn't have a routine down, who doesn't really have any kind of consideration for themselves, their dogs, or the other people around them, there's a big difference between the two.

Regardless, if you are all befuddled, try your best to breathe and just collect yourself as much as you can. When this starts turning into something that an official dreads is when you are stressing up and up and up and up and then it starts turning into this little cyclone of stress and just chaos.

An official would be a lot more understanding from you if you are trying to breathe and you just say, "Oh, just give me just one second," and you're trying to get your long line together, whatever the case may be, but you're breathing and you're trying as opposed to, "Oh, well, everyone must do this for me now, and can you go get my treats and can you go get this and can you go get the other thing." I was like, "No, that's not going to work."

You want to try to be as organized as you can. You also want to try to be as calm as you can. Now officials should notice when someone is a little stressed and they should be able to step in and offer some reassurance, maybe remind you to breathe, we don't want you passing out in the middle of the search area, but that's not necessarily their responsibility. Their responsibility is not to make sure that all the responsibility it taken off of your shoulders and they have to set you up to succeed. They should be there to support you, but you've got to do some of the work as well.

As an official, if I see someone coming up and it is just a whirlwind behind them, and they have no care in the world and they're just assuming everyone will pick it up after them, that's not going to go well for me. It's not that I'm going to score them any differently. They find the hide, they find the hide. But it just, it creates a very different atmosphere, and it doesn't happen a lot. This is something I will say, is that people who are purposefully disorganized and just completely inconsiderate of others, is very rare, it doesn't happen all that often, but when it does, it's really, it's just kind of gross. It leaves everyone with a bad taste in their mouth. So try to avoid that as best as you can.

If something happens outside of your control where suddenly you're pushed up in the run order and you feel like you have to rush a little bit, just breathe in between, do the best that you can, and just show that you're trying. That's all you have to do. But if it's simply, "Well, now everyone else has to figure this out for me," well, that's a little bit different.

Probably the biggest thing that causes officials to dread what it is that they do are people who are not trusting their dogs when they're searching. Now, there's a variety of different reasons why you could be doing this and it's actually a really common thing to happen. The reason being is that having an official saying no is really stressful for the person, and I could understand that. But as a judge, you can see because you are at a different vantage point than the handler more often than not, so you oftentimes can see the dog saying one, two, three, four, 10 times, "Here it is. I don't know how else to say this, but here it is," and that can be frustrating within itself, but I think a lot of officials can recognize the fact that where they're standing is offering a different vantage point than where the handler may be.

That's an entirely different scenario than when the dog has said one, two, three, four, five, 10 times, "Here it is," and then the handler also recognizes it, doesn't believe the dog or doesn't accept it and says, "Show me," over and over and over and over again. The show me thing is the worst. It is something that I think across the board every official who hears it, their jaws get tight and their shoulders get all tense and they're just like, "Oh, why are they saying show me?" It's so frustrating.

I would urge any competitor if you have the urge to say show me, do something else, anything else. Maybe you just call alert. That'd be nice too. But if you really don't, if you're really not sure, then maybe just move off a little bit, see if the dog leaves with you, try anything else but don't say show me. It is just, it's the bane of almost every judge's existence. If that was one thing that would just go away from Scent Work, officials would be so much happier.

Now really quickly I wanted to go over some of the ways that a trial can go from really fun and exciting and enjoyable for everyone to really super stressful. The first is when competitors start second guessing the searches. What I mean by this is you go in, you do a search with your dog, your dog has found, let's say there's two hides, your dog has found one hide and they're working and working and working trying to find the second, and you see them do a change of behavior in one corner but then they get drawn over to something else and you can't really tell and you're not really sure, so you bring them back to the corner and you call alert and the judge says, "Sorry no, that's actually here, which is near the corner but it's not in the right corner."

Long story short you walk out of that search not feeling all that great. Your dog found their first hide. They clearly struggled with the second. You aren't really sure what was happening in the space. Maybe they got distracted. Maybe there was some pulling of odor. You called away from the hide. You are not really happy. That's understandable. That's totally fine.

If your immediate response is they set a really bad hide, it's very difficult to keep that within you as a person for the next couple of hours, because you're not supposed to be talking about the searches at all regardless of what organization you're competing with. You're not supposed to be saying, "Hey, did you struggle in that search?" It's just supposed to be a thumbs up or thumbs down, and then when the trial is all over, then you're supposed to be talking about details.

When things start getting really stressful is when people don't follow that rule and they start saying, "Hey, did your dog have any difficulty in the interior search?" And if someone else says, "Yeah, we only found one hide," which again these conversations should not be happening, but they do, that spreads like wildfire and by the time the trial is over and you're having the debriefing, you have a very big swath of the trial competitors are furious because they have all these theories about why the search didn't go well and they think that the person who set the hide had no idea what they're doing, the judge was being unfair, whatever the case may be.

Then sure enough during the debriefing, the person who set hide, be it the Co for NACSW or PSD for USCSS, judges for AKC or UKC, whatever the case may be, they then explain to you what it is that their thought process was when they set the hide, what they thought would be happening in that space, what actually happened in that space, and then what they saw for the handling.

Suddenly everyone has answers to all their questions. Suddenly it makes all kinds of sense. It wasn't this grand conspiracy to make everybody fail and everyone goes home and they're fine. The only problem was is that for all those hours in between the entire atmosphere of the whole trial went down in the dumps. It's just everyone's angry, everyone's stressed, everyone's upset.

I've seen this firsthand. It's happened to trials where I was actually the hide setter. If the competitors had just waited and if they hadn't talked about the hides, which again you're not supposed to, and if they didn't get themselves worked up in such a lather, I could've explained to them what was happening because once I did, they were fine.

This is something that I see a lot, and again, I cannot stress this enough. Please don't talk about the searches at trials. It's against the rules and depending on the organization you could actually be written off for a written warning, you could lose your cues for the search that you're talking about, and anyone you're talking to could lose their cues for that search. And if you continue to do it, depending on the organization, you might just be kicked out completely because the whole point of trials is that you don't know what's going on in the search. If you knew all the details about the search, then you wouldn't have to have trails at all. You could just keep practicing at home.

Now I understand that as competitors it can be very stressful when clearly you saw that your dog was struggling, clearly you saw that your dog had picked up odor somewhere but they couldn't get to it and you didn't call it correctly. I get it. I've been there. Wait till the end when the person who sets the hike and actually explained what happened, it makes a difference.

The other way that I notice the trials go from good and fun and enjoyable trials to trials that are more stressful, are people who are constantly looking at the clock. Let me just let you all know, just as a general rule, your officials don't want to the trail to be going on any longer than it absolutely has to. Your officials want your trial to be smooth and efficient and they would like to get home a little early as well. They are exhausted by the end of the day. I mean, they are mentally tired, they're physically tired, it's a really hard job to be an official.

That is exacerbated when you hear the mutterings like let's say for lunch and you'll hear people saying, "Oh, I can't believe how long this is taking. Oh, can't they speed things up," and, "Oh, I was hoping to do something later on today," and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. You want to try to avoid that stuff as much as possible. Know that your officials are doing their very best.

Now are there officials who are slower than others? Yes. Typically speaking the people who are posting the trials will know that and they'll talk with the officials and be like, "Okay, look, even if you're giving information to the competitor, it should be over a series of seconds, not minutes, and if you're going to provide them a quick, little feedback thing as they're leaving the search area, it's got to be quick." We're not trying to rush anybody out, we're not trying to make this into like a production line, but we do have to get through a lot of people in a short period of time.

The main thing is just as competitors just know that the apparatus behind the trial, their goal is to have it be efficient, and also everyone's goal is for you to be happy. Everyone's goal is for you and your dog to have a good time. If at every single turn it's complaining here about how long it's taking, complaining here about how you thought the hides were unfair, complaining here about the weather, complaining there about the time of the day, it just goes on and on and on. Suddenly this really, happy, fun, awesome thing we should all do be doing together turns into this just sludgy, gross, depressing, stressful, yucky thing, and on top of that your officials are mentally and physically exhausted. And it can really burn them out.

I would just urge you that as competitors, please know that everyone at trials 9 times out of 10 who are working or volunteering, really do want everyone to be done sooner rather than later. They want it to be efficient, they want it to run smoothly, and they want you to have a good time. If there is a bottleneck, because it does happen, things happen, they're trying their best to fix it. Just know that, and if you start going like, "Oh my god. I can't believe it's whatever time," take that time to just hang out with your dog, read a book, take a nap, talk with friends, whatever the case may be. You're there. You're fine. You are always free to leave. I mean, you could if you absolutely had to. But more often than not, if you just take the stress out of it and just go, "Okay, I have this whole day to spend time with my dog and with friends and with other people who love Scent Work," then it's not that big of a deal.

The other thing to try to keep in mind is that for your officials, I know I've mentioned this a couple of times already, but it is a very difficult job. The people who are being approved for these positions more often than not, again, they have the expertise necessary and they also want you to be successful as a team with your dog. They don't want to say no. They don't want you to fail. If an official really is out there going, "Ha, ha, I didn't get any cues. This is a great day," then I agree with you, they shouldn't be an official. That's not the point. I hope you'll keep that in mind when you are going to your next trial.

At this point you're thinking, "Great. Now you made me feel really bad about being a competitor. You made me think that I am just this terrible, awful person. I'm never going to a trial again." I don't want you to think that. Again, the things that I'm pointing out do happen at trials, but it's a very small percentage of people that do them. The purpose of this podcast is just for you to see what not to do and that it not only negatively affects the officials, it negatively affects the overall trial, which means that it's negatively affecting your experience as well. If you do happen to notice yourself doing any of these things, you want to catch yourself and see if you can change course.

And then you're also saying, "But you titled this podcast The Ideal Competitor. What am I supposed to be doing?" Let me just give you a really quick rundown of what an official would love for you to do in order to be an ideal competitor. Number one, know the rules. Know the rules forwards and backwards. Ask questions ahead of time, but be familiar with them by the time that you get to the trial. Number two, be considerate and kind and just nice. That goes a really long way, and do that with everyone and anyone at the trial.

Make sure that you're breathing. This can help you and your dog actually do better when you are competing because it takes some of the nerves off of you, it takes some of the stress out of your leash, it can help set your dog at ease. It gets oxygen into your brain, which is good. We want you to be able to think, and again, not pass out in the middle of the search, but that will also open you up to be more receptive when your official is giving you directions or when they're asking you questions or they're seeing if you have any questions. You also doing those things can then let us know that you're trying. Again, this is that reciprocal relationship back and forth, it's a give and take.

Please know that the majority of the people who are working at trials, be it officials, be it trial hosts, be it volunteers, are there to ensure that you and your dog have a good time. They have your best interest at heart and odor is something that we honestly and truly are guessing at. Even people who have an incredible amount of experience can never guarantee what is going to happen in a space and they can never guarantee that is going to be the same the very first time they set the hide, to when the dog goes, to when the first competitor goes, to competitor number 15, to competitor number 30, to competitor number 50. All those dogs may actually experience a different odor picture by the time they get into the search area.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't hold our officials to a high standard. We should. That doesn't mean that our officials shouldn't be experienced. They must be. It would be better for you to go into a situation thinking at least as a default, "This person is not trying to set me up to fail. This person has done their best. Now let me figure out during the debriefing what it is that may have happened."

And also know that there may not been anything with the search at all. It could've been an off day for you, it could've been an off day for your dog, or there may just been a gap in your training. That's okay too. All trials are supposed to be as a test of your training and to provide you with information. Sometimes the information is, "I'm not going to show under that judge again," and that's okay too. But it's a completely different outlook and approach than, "Those people are terrible and they're trying to ruin me and my dog and I hate them." Like that is an entirely different approach.

An ideal competitor would be going in thinking these people are having my best interest at heart, they're trying their best, they have the expertise and the background necessary. I'm going to go into the search. I know that my dog and I have the training and background to do it. We're not just winging it. And if something goes awry, then I'm going to be open minded to figure out why that happened. And it could very well be something that I did. It could very well be my training. Or it could've just been the Scent Work gods decided, "No, thank you. We're not going to let anyone find the hide today."

The other thing as an ideal competitor, you will really toe the line when it comes to talking about the searches in that you won't have something else to talk about. Generally speaking an even better rule is to just not talk about Scent Work at all. Don't talk about class, don't talk about the trial last week or last year. Talk about anything else but Scent Work.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive. We're at a Scent Work trial. Why shouldn't we talk about Scent Work? Not only does it defeat the whole purpose of the trail, not only can it get people all lathered and all worked up, but it can also impart undue stress and burden onto other people who may not really know that when you are going on and on about this terrible experience that you had, it was really the very first time you ever tried to do Scent Work with odor at a class ages ago, they may think that that's that very same trial and now you've put all this baggage and stress onto them and their dog. That's just not fair. Try to avoid that as best as you can.

The last part of being an ideal competitor is that you're there for the right reasons and that will bleed over into all these other aspects. You're there to have fun with your dog. You know that this is a game. You absolutely can have respect and admiration for the amount of training and time and effort that you and your dog have put into this activity, but that you are not finding dead bodies or bombs. You are finding birch, anise, or clove, or some other target odor. This is a game and an opportunity to bond and have a good time with our dogs and to be around like minded people.

If you go into a trial with that mindset and you are opening yourself to having a good time, then you're the perfect competitor and officials will love you from now until the end of time. It makes a huge difference.

I hope this podcast helped a little bit so that you can see from the official standpoint just how important everything that you're bringing into the trial as a competitor really is. You are a very important part of the puzzle, and the entire apparatus of a trial is designed with the sole purpose of both you and your dog having a good time. A lot of these newer organizations were started up with the very basis of we want more dogs out playing and having fun. That's the whole purpose of this. If we all can do our part, then we can ensure that that happens.

Thank you so much for listening. I hope you found this podcast helpful. Happy training and we look forward to seeing you soon.