First, I prematurely published this before I was done and had to quickly un-publish it. I heard from lots of people so it’s nice to know my blogs are being enjoyed and that I need to get them out more frequently!

Back on topic … Being a good actor is kinda my thing! When you run a search with known hide placements you have to run it as seriously as you would a blind search. I’ve caught myself at times when I’m rushed or tired and just go through the motions to find the hides quickly without really handling the search.

When we know where the hides are we often overly influence where the hide is or avoid it like the plague. We don’t want to do either. Enter the search area like it’s a new canvas to explore. Focus on handling your dog and see where the search goes. Take the time to observe their sniffing behavior. How do they behave in cold areas, in distracting areas, near odor?  Your job is to ensure the area is covered, regardless of where you know the hides are. If your dog doesn’t seem to be working when it passes an area, take them back around and recheck the area. Even if it’s a cold area! This will allow you to practice your handling when you need to ensure all areas are covered and cleared.

You can learn a lot by watching your dog in cold areas. Nothing there! The trail is cold and they will seek to find where they can pick up odor. You are free to have your dog check areas with hides, assuming this is combined with checking cold areas too! And it’s not pointing at the hide, it’s just to ensure the area has been checked.  You can then check off your list that you were a good actor and ensured the area was covered.

One of the benefits of being a good actor is not letting your dog think we can help. We inadvertently do that without realizing it so the more we can be aware of not helping, the better!

Any time we aid our dog, we teach them to read our handling and not to find source.

Dogs are masters at reading us! They know when we reach to get a treat. They know when we step in when they are close to hides. They learn our patterns and anticipate our actions. This can backfire when the dog is not at source or not close enough. They may fringe alert or you may read something that is not true based on your dog’s response to YOU. Be as neutral as you can be when they are honing in or near a hide. You can back up or move in a different direction. You can also proof with some of your handling clues when in a COLD area!!

Here’s a recent example of running a known hide placement search. Others in class ran it blind with unknown # of hides up to 3. It was a novel, cluttered area and distracting as well. There were 2 hides and 2.5 minutes to search.  It was tough to cover the area for all types of dogs – small, fast, methodical. Almost everyone got a 30s warning before finding the 2nd hide. Because I was running out of time I called finish hoping I “found” them all. You also want to keep searching if you have time and haven’t covered the whole area like you would in a trial. Once you get to NW3 and don’t know how many hides there are (up to 3) you will continue to search until you find 3 or call FINISH indicating you believe you have found all the hides. IT’S FUN STUFF!

If you watch me handle – can you tell where the other hide is based on my positioning? I delay the video in one spot for you to answer … I seem interested in areas I know are cold when he is showing interest (like I would in a trial).

How good of an actor are you?