Kimberly Buchanan

Stefanie, you are such a wonderfully supportive handler for Prim! She really responds to your encouragement! So I’m going to give you some ideas of what I’m seeing and how you can become an even better partner for her. 🙂

First, I think you have way more leash than you need. Go with maybe 4-6 feet less. Having said that you do need to USE the leash more to get more space from Prim. IMO you are crowding her quite a bit. If you watch your video, you are too close on several occasions. Perfect distance for a vehicle but too close for working Exterior, especially with elevated hides that will travel out from source. The first hide I think you’re a bit close but it doesn’t seem to impact Prim and she works that one out easily.

Now watch yourself with the hide on the corner. You look to be consciously giving Prim space but I think you need even more. Maybe you were following the line of the pavers so as not to trip? What’s even more important is that you stop and give some ever-so-slight leash direction to Prim at (:36) so she doesn’t go so far down the wall. IMO she needs to go further. She needs to check the column and adjacent corner so SHE can decide there is no odor down there OR if she detects odor SHE can decide that source is back the other way. By applying the leash pressure here (and later on) you don’t allow her the freedom to make that decision.

So then Prim checks the ground. Is she working odor? Is she crittering? Is she investigating the great smells on the ground? Probably all of the above. I’m happy she ranges out and cruises the grass next. 🙂

You can see a head turn at (:54) towards the hide on the pole. But then she turns back the other way, still nose to ground. She changes direction again at (:59). Look at the body pressure you’re putting on her to continue in her current direction. Kudos to Prim for ignoring you! 😉 And here you give her some good distance as she investigates the sidewalk. She heads towards the parking lot and you restrict her leash which is reasonable, I think.

Prim changes direction and gets a little “lost” and momentarily distracted by the barking dog. No biggie. She starts working the pole hide. Then it looks to me like she starts checking pee-mail. With that distraction as well as the dog barking it seems the odor is drifting over her head and she doesn’t quite figure that out yet. (Your distance from her looks good here.)

Prim chooses to head back in the other direction, following the grass. However, you stop her at (1:45) from going to the column and direct her back, blocking her a bit. Good girl Prim, she cuts behind you (1:47) towards the building. Here your distance from her is ok, I think I’d have had you step back a couple of steps. Now here again you restrict her and insist she works the corner hide (2:06). It’s hard to see whether she was going back to hide #1? Remember, sometimes dogs need to do that to (a) be assured they’re doing the right thing and/or (b) determine it’s a different hide they’re working. In this case your body cues look like you’re pointing to the corner of the building, whether you meant to or not. So Prim obediently keeps searching the corner. Again, a little restriction (at about 2:20, maybe necessary in this case since she was working the problem and looks to have gotten distracted maybe?) and she works nicely to the hide on the corner. 🙂

I think you do a great job of getting Prim back to search mode after she gets a little distracted (2:46) and this time she works to the pole hide. Yeah! 🙂


This is a long-winded way of saying keep up your support of Prim, it’s working and it’s lovely! Be careful of being too close and crowding her. Allow Prim to range out a bit further. As long as she’s working, give her that freedom to make decisions rather than directing her. In a trial you may not have that same luxury but give her the opportunity to gain those skills so you don’t have to “manage” the search so much.

I hope this is helpful! I’m so happy with the progress Prim is making!

Kimberly Buchanan
Joyride K9 Dog Training