Scent Work 3-3 Body Language/Handler Cues

This lecture we are discussing body language and how we may inadvertently give cues to our dogs while hunting.  We want to develop good search behavior skills, for you and your dog! There is a lot to it – are you inadvertently helping them, what to do if they keep checking in with you, what to do if they “false alert”, what if they are struggling, etc.

It’s a good idea to video your sessions. You’ll see so many things you had no idea you or your dog were doing. It really helps to fine tune and correct any training mishaps. Be sure to observe your handling behavior. It’s very common to inadvertently help our dogs with body language/cues.

  • Watch how your dog behaves in reaction to you.
  • Could someone watching that doesn’t know where source is, guess where it is based on your body language??
  • Get in the habit of being a good actor in that you don’t know where the hide is.
    • Avoid walking toward hide when your dog is searching or getting close.
    • Don’t stand/face the hide.
    • Never point or help the dog find the hide.
  • If your dog is struggling/overwhelmed, stop, take a break, replace the hide to make it easier for your dog and end on an easy search.
  • If your dog is searching in a “cold” area don’t tell them to search again – that is just telling the dog – oh, I must be wrong or in the wrong place. Remember, we don’t know where it is. (wink, wink) Let’s give the dog time to work it out.
  • Does your dog watch you a lot if you are moving or standing still? Sometimes we pace too much and draw our dogs attention to us.
  • Review the False Alert lecture – if your dog “talks” to you, you need to respond. If you do nothing when they indicate a cold container and then always go in when they indicate source, some dogs will learn to wait for your reaction.
  • If they keep checking in with you, it usually means you have been inadvertently giving cues to help them. Start being more neutral.
  • Get in the habit of following your dog. Let them lead ahead of you. Or hang back and watch them work. We want to give their nose plenty of room to pick up odor without you blocking scent or giving handler cues.

The games in the next lecture will add some mild challenges while hunting and show the dog early on that we are unable to help them locate source!

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