After a recent Nosework Elite trial, I was reflecting on a few things I wish I had reviewed prior to the trial. It’s been a busy few weeks of trialing for me and many of my friends. Some who thought they weren’t doing well, were finding all the hides! Others were in the same majority of teams not finding hides. It got me thinking there are a few things we should remind ourselves before we walk into a search.
#1 Don’t Panic! Don’t panic if your dog is not picking up odor or finding hides right away. It could mean there isn’t any accessible odor. It could mean there aren’t any hides. It could mean there is a challenging converging odor puzzle. It could mean they just won’t find any that are there. And that’s ok. They can only find what they can find. No one is going to judge you and and likely you are in good company results wise.
#2 Be patient. Give your dog time to settle into the search area. Don’t rush them to find hides. Odor often shows up later if it wasn’t there before.
#3 Don’t over handle. Realize that odor may not be available where you think (or hope) it would be. Odor will drop/move out away from structures and objects. Letting your dog cast out will allow them to find threads of odor. Your dog may be lucky to bump into odor, but they will mostly pick it up further away and work it back to source. If we are over handling, we are interrupting our dog from working odor and not adequately observing our dogs.
#4 Keep pace with your dog. When we trial, we are nervous and when we are nervous we talk more and move faster. Our minds are going a million miles a minute trying to process everything and cover “all the areas”. We can easily push our dog off of odor if we are motoring behind them or pulling them somewhere else. This is where our keen observation skills will come in handy! Did you see a change in their pace/stride? Did they glance to the side or up? Check your speed and slow up to support what your dog may be picking up. If they stop, let them stop to take it all in. We can’t hurry odor :)!
#5 Be positive and party at the end of each search! No matter how the search goes, be proud of your dog for giving it their best try! (And be proud of you too!).