Kimberly Buchanan

    All really good questions! I’ll try to answer!

    AS for Non-NACSW method with patterning, it’s really not that counter since when you get into the higher levels you HAVE to be able to be a part of the team. In the beginning, off-leash searches, following the dog, etc. is PERFECT! We’re learning from the dog and they’re teaching us about odor and about their individual search styles.

    *However* there comes a day when one decides – thru trial and error (hopefully not too many errors) that you need to re-evaluate that and decide if there is something that can help you FOR THE SAKE OF COMPETITION. The reality is it wouldn’t matter AT ALL if there wasn’t something as competition. But we’re invested in this activity and we want to be a better partner. So how can WE be better at this? IMVHO, one way is to examine the efficiency of your search. Containers can be HARD with an enthusiastic dog and with a softer dog you cannot apply the pressure. BUT, my suggestion is to experiment a little bit and yes – imprint a bit of a pattern to get the dog to think a little bit. It won’t work for all but it did and does help ME. I get lost. I’m the weak link. I admit it! 😉

    Pairing: Always a self-reward. If you have the dog on a short leash they won’t have the opportunity to go back to get another reward. Once the dog gets the hang of it you’ll graduate to multiple hides for multiple rewards to reduce the food in the search area.

    Start with a single row with a hide in every one, then every other one, then the first and last, etc. Randomize so the dog begins to investigate ALL of them. Don’t let her move forward until checking out the box in front of her. This can be challenging.

    Then go to multiple rows, same thing, up one row, down the next. If she skips over to the next row let her get paid but I would space them far to begin. All you’re doing is telling your dog, THIS is how *I* want to play this game. Hopefully she will comply! If it’s in her nature to go to the end of a search area, work the pattern backwards. You just need to feel confident you covered them all. 🙂

    Eventually you won’t have to man-handle and she should do this naturally but it will take time! And some uncomfortable moments in the process. But if there are big rewards for her she should get into the groove with you.

    Does that make sense?

    NOT for all dogs and this may not work for you but just a suggestion to try. 🙂

    Kimberly Buchanan
    Joyride K9 Dog Training