Blog Blip: Balance Between Going to Source and Inaccessible Hides

May 1, 2020

I’ll be doing a series of short blogs – a blip in your day when the extra time we thought we all had is now full with ALL THE THINGS being offered and shared online due to COVID-19. Hope you have a minute in your day for a glimpse into my training thoughts!

What is Go To Source?

The game of Nosework is many things but at it’s core it is finding source – getting as close to source as the dog can.

Odor IS everywhere in a search area. Actual source (the hide) is different from odor blown away from the hide, pooling odor, and deep/elevated inaccessible hides. If the hide is accessible, odor is ALWAYS stronger at source. I want my dog to find the strongest source of odor.

I ran a popular Workshop on Go To Source Games last year through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. The workshop will run again in August and covers various drills for strengthening your dog’s go to source skills. Here is one of the fun drills – using cups in a lattice board (or jump wing!) and moving the hot cup to different places.

Keeping Criteria

While training the other day, I set a hide on some bleachers – about a foot off the end. Wind was going right to left in this video. You’ll see my young dog Moxie alerts a foot to the left of the end – clearly having found odor, but not directly at source.

The hide was on an L shaped bracket so although there is some channeling of odor to the end, it wasn’t a true channel as if it had a 3rd metal side on the front. In that case if sides encompass the hide (like a pipe) the dog would be right.

If this was a blind search, I would have called it where she first indicated. And I might even get a “yes” from a judge. Since I don’t train for the “yes” or for a pass, I want to train for BETTER and more understanding. WHY? Because actual source WAS accessible. It can become a slippery slope to teach a dog they don’t have to get all the way to an accessible hide.

I had other goals for my training session, but turned this into a Go To Source training drill.

You can see here that with each successive hide placement she could easily locate the hide! If you watch from 1:06-1:10, a similar placement as the first one she fringed on, she beautifully works the end of the bracket to source – learning has already occurred in this short on the fly training session.

The Balance

By training my dog to go to source, she will gain confidence in her job and be clear on what leads to reinforcement. This also offsets our training on inaccessible hides where she can NOT get to. We have to constantly keep this in balance!

Here is a recent search with an elevated hide in a tree. Moxie clearly can not reach the hide – and stares up exactly to the location but knows she can’t reach it.

We owe it to our dogs to understand the difference between these two hide placements. By developing a strong desire to get to source, they fight to get to the ones they can’t quite reach, giving us more information to call those inaccessible hides!

It also builds more fight to locate harder to reach accessible hides! When we work harder to get something the payoff is ohhhh so much sweeter! This builds value for odor and value for sourcing the hide!

If you missed my previous Blog Blip on Rewarding a Blank Search, or the series of blips, check them out!


  1. Susan Bates


    • Anita

      Thanks for the blips it helps me to develop ways to drive to source

  2. Judy

    enjoying these blips! thanks for doing them.

  3. Ruth Vaughan

    Thank you, Julie, for this well illustrated and articulate lesson on training for inaccesable hides and building drive for reaching for the odor source!

  4. Robin Ross

    Loving these blips! Thank you so much.

  5. Stephanie Stoner

    These are so helpful. Great videos!!

  6. Catherine

    Love seeing how proud Moxie is of herself when she solves the problems. Thank you!