Certifications with Robin Greubel

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla speaks with Robin Greubel from K9Sensus about certifying detection dogs.

Science Highlight: None

  • A certification is a snapshot of the skills that have proven to be predictors of success in the field
  • Some skill sets to consider during testing are refocusing after distraction, independent dogs (handler not assisting in finding the hides), and successful clears
  • There are different kinds of detection dogs (conservation, search and rescue, cadaver, etc.), so one type of certification will not necessarily fit all others, so it would be difficult to create one kind of certification for ALL detection dogs
  • Being certified does not make you operational, being certified is like getting your learners permit

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Where to find Robin: Website | Facebook | Instagram 

You can support the K9 Conservationists Podcast by joining our Patreon at patreon.com/k9conservationists.

K9 Conservationists Website | Merch | Support Our Work | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok

Transcript (AI-Generated)

Kayla Fratt 

Hello, and welcome to the K9 Conservationist podcasts where we’re positively obsessed with conservation detection dogs join us every week to discuss ecology, odor dynamics, dog behavior and everything in between. I’m your host, Kayla Fratt. And I’m one of the cofounders of K9 Conservationists, where we trained dogs to detect data for researchers, agencies and NGOs. Today, I’m talking to Robin Greubel from K9sensus about certifying detection dogs and some of the things that we can learn from the various other detection dog fields about being successful with attempting to quantify something that is pretty challenging. So Robin, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about what it is you do. Maybe highlight a couple of your dogs. I know you’ve got quite the crew, so we don’t have to go through all of them if you don’t want to.

Robin Greubel 

Oh, thank goodness. Okay. So I’ve been involved in detection dog work since 2001. And I started with a border collie and did search and rescue work. So most of my career has been wilderness search and rescue. I got involved in FEMA, so I do some FEMA work, lots of live find cadaver work, I dabbled in trailing and decided it was not my thing. But also do water work, you know that those sorts of things. And then within about the last three years, I’ve also started training and doing work with some bomb dogs and narcotics dogs. And I’ve got currently in the kennel. I’ve got a whole slew of Labradors and a Dutch shepherd. And so the the puppies that I’m currently training our puppies, I believe, 1112 and 13 that I’ve gotten as either, most of them from puppies all the way train them, deployed with them, certified them out the door type of work. So everything from that shepherds to labs to an English Shepherd was thrown in there. I’ve got a couple of rescues, you know, all over the planet. So it’s been a lot of fun with with the dogs and keeping me on my toes, and I currently have three puppies under the age of 10 months. So yeah. Some days that well.

Kayla Fratt 

I have one 22-month old male and I feel like sometimes I can’t handle him. That’s just the one.

Robin Greubel 

Yeah, that I’ve got Shiva, my eight month old right now who? Well, yeah, she’s just getting ready to turn eight months. And I just looked at her and I’m like, You’re so far behind in your training. But wow, I just don’t have time. Today, my seminar season is done. So I’m now sort of like, okay, for the next three months, it’s my dogs we’re doing, getting them up where they need to be on their their detection work so we can get them out the door. So as I went through my whole search and rescue career and all sorts of things in probably late 2008 2009, I started the apprenticing process to become a certifying official. And I’m currently Yes, so I’m currently a certifying official for four different search and rescue entities in the United States, one of them being FEMA. And then I also sit on the academy Standards Board, dogs and sensors Committee, which is responsible for writing the standards. Or we’re not responsible for writing standards, we’re responsible for actually approving them and sending them out for public comment. So basically, what that means I proofread a lot of stuff and look for commas and periods. Cuz we actually have subject matter experts that are writing the certifications though. So I sit on that I’m the head of the area Eri which is the Alliance for emergency response instructors and examiner’s canine section, which does all sorts of search and rescue certifications. And we also have a critical incident response canine team which are the support dogs for law enforcement and fire so their agency side dogs, so we also have a certification for that

Kayla Fratt 

Wow. Yeah. So clearly you are the person to talk to you about certifications. And I love I don’t even think I realized when I reached out to you that you have so much experience with so many different types of certifications. That’s incredible. I don’t know how you keep up. Do you ever get when you’re working on?

Robin Greubel 

I do I have them printed off. And I actually before I set up, I predominantly do certifications for two different search and rescue entities right now. And those are the ones that I have files, they’re printed off the most recent and I’m responsible for kind of writing and tweaking the the Aerie standard, so I better know those because I wrote them. Well, I’m responsible for writing, which sometimes works that way. And when I say I wrote them, it’s the fact that I have final editing. And I send them off to the board for approval, we actually have a crew of people to make sure that I’m not going off on some weird tangent. So that it’s representative for the industry.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, which is, I think, a great first point, you’re not doing this alone. And you’ve got to wait, the team of people helping to design this certification.

Robin Greubel 

Right. Now, because, when? Go ahead, okay,

Kayla Fratt 

let’s, let’s get into it then. So I think as as I was kind of saying to you before starting recording, you know, right now, there’s no certification in the world of conservation dogs. If you show up and you say your dog is a conservation dog, there’s not really, there’s no one to stop you, which isn’t not that we necessarily want this to be the sort of thing that is law enforcement based or anything. But there’s also not really much of like joint standards, or anything that you can kind of say, I did XYZ, therefore, we can all agree that my dog has met, or my dog and I together have met those standards. And I think ultimately, as this field continues to grow, and more and more people learn about it, which are good things, these are things we want, this is what we’ve been working towards. There’s kind of increasing murmurings about certification. And increasing understanding that this is something that we may want, we may need. There’s a lot of resistance and angst and fear around it, though, and we really want to try to get it right, if and when we move that way. So with all of that in mind, you know, you just outlined some of the different certifications you work with, would you like to kind of take us through what a certifying process may look like with one or two of those organizations? Or if there are broad similarities among all of them that we should we could do kind of just to understand, like, what is the certification even look like? Is this an exam? Is this an in person demo? You know, what is it?

Robin Greubel 

So it’s every certification that I have been involved with all the way from wilderness search and rescue. Actually, in 2003 2004, my team was one of the first people that actually hosted Cheryl Kennedy out to do area search dogs certifications for the National Association for search and rescue. And this is it’s a, it was entailed a written test.

Kayla Fratt 

Okay,

Robin Greubel 

so you have 100, you have 100 points. And every certification, I’ve been search and rescue certification, not the bomb dogs and the narcotics dogs. So the search and rescue ones have a written test that you must also be able to complete. Okay, so not all of them, some of them do. And some of that is rip is driven by an ASTM standard, because ASTM says in order to be considered a ground search person, you have to have these things. So, the written test is something that I always thought was kind of pointless, until I realized that this is actually a teaching moment. And we end up asking questions, things like basic stuff, you should already know canine first aid. What’s, you know, how can your dog have ibuprofen or Tylenol? You know, all of those sorts of things, which as a canine handler, you should probably already know. And, you know, in the conservation world, it’s it’s going to be really interesting because you guys are doing so many different black footed cats, or are you doing mussels, you know, all those sorts of things. Finding out with those questions that might be common across all of those disciplines. would be interesting, but you could They’ll do a written test. Yeah. Most of ours are done online. So you take them before you even show up that day. Perfect. Yeah. Well, thanks, ants. Yeah, so and then every single search and rescue, and even the law enforcement tests that I’ve taken for narcotics and explosives are in person. And ideally, you have two evaluators, because it’s really hard to cheat when there are two. And the the other side of that is, you may, as an evaluating official, I like having a second person actually a second person, and then a scribe. And so the scribe doesn’t even have to be a certifying official, but they are just somebody there who’s to write maps, they’re there to write down times, they’re there to do all of that stuff. And that’s a you can do that in your cadaver dog world and a little bit in your narcotics and explosives. It’s a little bit harder for you’re trailing an area search because like a type one area search test is 120 to 150 acres. I’m not going to make a scribe walk around with me for four hours. Which, yes, that’s actually what you do in an area search test. It’s me the person in their dog out walking around in the wilderness. So the it’s you have the option to some certifications will tell you go search the area, I’ll watch you search the area, come back and tell me where there are hides. Which implies that your dog does their train final response, and you don’t get a yes or no. And so it’s a basically a series of hides. And then you have some certifications. Who are Yeah, I’ll tell you yes or no right away. And so then you have the opportunity to reinforce your dog. I’ll be perfectly honest, I reside in the camp that for my bomb dog tests, my narcotics dogs tests, and my cadaver dog tests. Because handling a live find dog, it’s still be this way, during a certification, or at any point that I cannot verify the odor is there. I never reinforced my dog. So I have it built into the dog that they understand a variable schedule of reinforcement,

Kayla Fratt 

I think that’s the thing with it. And whenever you’re going, right, well, yeah.

Robin Greubel 

Yeah, you’ve trained it. Because you know, the other question is, for some of what you guys do, are you going to do that out in the field? I know, you might be able to tell. Is it really black footed? You know, is that right? Is very, right.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, I had actually, muscle. Yeah, just yesterday, barley alerted down a badger hole. And I was like, I mean, hypothetically, a badger could have taken a bat carcass and drag it down its hole. That seems like a thing a badger would do. But I can’t. I cannot confirm that. I’m sorry. But right.

Robin Greubel 

So I’m not going to reinforce you for a badger.

Kayla Fratt 

Yes, exactly. Because we really don’t need that learning to go find me all the Badger holes. We know we have a lot of those. I really don’t want that. Right. Thank you. So let’s go find another.

Robin Greubel 

Yes, but No. And so some of those are considerations. And 90% of this is a training issue. Or, you know, there’s just training to the expectations to know that it’s there. And at the end of the day, what Teresa McPherson who is one of my mentors and just had her out for a whole seminar, and has been doing certification stuff and FEMA stuff for a very long time. At the end of the day, a certification is a snapshot of the skills that have proven to be predictors of success in the field. It doesn’t necessary because the last thing we really want to do in the cadaver dog world is go through and set up this whole crime scene thing. And we’re doing full bodies all the way down to blood smears. At that point, we would be keeping a lot of really qualified dogs out of the field, that that handler may never desire to do crime scene stuff. All they really want to do is do they’re they’re more of a first responder they want to do suicidal walkaways. They want to go find missing Alzheimer’s patients, they may not ever want to do somebody who’s drown. So if you can break your certification up or ask the evaluators to look at certain skill sets that the team must have to be successful in the field, that is actually some of its objective and some of its subjective. But when my score sheet has the question, like, Is the dog equal, easily refocused after being distracted? I can say yes or no, because I’ve seen them. Oh, my gosh, there are five deer that popped up. And if the handler can call the deer off and refocus them, I think that’s a big goal. Yes, right. Right, and can have I set my hives up in such a way that I can verify that the dog will independently work into odor and complete their train final response, without any help from the handler. That’s something that’s important for me and the other thing that I really want people to start looking at. And especially in the search and rescue dog world, and even narcotics and explosives, we do a lot of blanks. Yeah, there’s nothing there. So you have to have a blank area. Can you call it clear? And the other part of that is, I don’t, I should never know how many hides are in my search area. Right? Because it affects how I search in an hour, at least in my world. I, I think about evaluations are as much at this point on can I as a handler, clear my area and make sure there’s nothing out there that I should have found? Mm hmm.

Kayla Fratt  

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And I know I mean, it’s I’m really glad you brought up the the HRD dog example of the difference between kind of crime scene and finding a blood smear or a splatter or something versus, you know, a walk away patient because I think that actually highlights one of the things that is really, really hard in our field is, you know, we have everything from chronic wasting disease dogs, where you might have a bunch of samples of deer tissue or deer Scout, I’m actually not sure which they use. And the dogs are basically doing the lineup, you know, they’re doing, right. They’re just trying to figure out which, yeah, yeah, exactly. They’re probably not really doing it out in the wilderness. I’m not really sure they might be. But in a lot of cases, I imagine it’s more, you know, you’ve got tissue sample hunters that the ducks are looking for. And then, you know, kind of moving on up the level of granularity. You could have Bumblebee nests, or spotted lantern fly like masses, mussels, it’s all really fine detail work. And then you can get up into you know, we’ve got someone in our Patreon who’s working on finding mountain lion kill sites. I mean, that’s mine, an odor cone that you’ve got to think is comparable to a decomposing human body, that’s something that might catch odor a mile away. And it’s just an entirely different skill set. And one of the things that is going to be really fascinating to see if and how we can figure out is okay, how do you figure out on an exam that allows people to kind of shop and say, hey, my dog is a spotted lantern, fly dog. And this is what we do. We’re, we’re invasive plants, and this is what we do. We do not need to be thinking about rich to rich scent transport. We do not thinking about clearing 500 acres.

Robin Greubel 

Well, and I would start looking at one who can you copy?

Kayla Fratt 

Right? That’s why we’re here.

Robin Greubel 

So you talk about examples, like the finding outline kill sites. I was like, okay, that handler, that handler probably needs to know basic wilderness, they need to know wilderness first day, they probably need to know what they’re going to do when they’re law. If they get lost. It’s sort of that for me would fall into the hole. Okay, let’s look at the area search certifications. But, you know, here’s my other thing. How do you even set that up as an evaluating official without knowing where a mountain lion kill site is?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah. Yeah. And not something that is necessarily it wouldn’t necessarily be valid. led, kind of in the test taking technical sense to take get sent to job, or maybe you’ve got a jar of sample that kind of, you know, you’ve picked up, that is not the same size of odor plume, right? This is something HRD people deal with, as far as you know, it’s super hard to get access to a large, a large cube. Human Right, yeah.

Robin Greubel 

So So what we’ve done in the cadaver dog world is really gone back to those skill sets, and said, okay, for example, the tests that I administer, most of the time, I, our search areas are two acres in size. For the wilderness portion, we do a whole bunch of other stuff. But for the wilderness portion, there are two acres in size. I have to say, okay, my source size, we actually have defined for cadaver dog work, here are the source sizes. And some of that is dictated by the National Incident Management System. And then they have 20 to 30 minutes to clear this area, they either have to call it you have zero to two sources available in each area. Go okay. But for then I start thinking about, okay, I can see that more work for your bats, and other things that are surface hides. But when you start talking the big cat kill sites, you might look at a 22 or 40 6080 acre area, that then you have to have certifying officials who understand how to set up a search strategy. Yeah, and right. And I’ll be honest, the only bad way to search an area is to not search it, there’s more efficient ways of searching it. Then other ways, but some of that just depends on how your dog works. And so then you have evaluating officials that have to under that understand set theory and all those sorts of things. And you set out a size of source that is going to be reasonably detectable in the time allotted by a proficient team. And then we start having getting into the whole concept of are they proficient or are they fluent? And then you have to start asking the question, because I’ve seen this on particular tests, I have dogs that can go into odor six or seven times and then they walk over because they’ve never done their they don’t do their train final response. And the handler doesn’t recognize it. And so they leave the area. Yeah, and so part of the key of all of this is having appropriately mentored and coached evaluators on how to set up tests on how to handle what happens when everything goes south. And I went through probably three years of apprenticing the first time I went to be an evaluator, I’d traveled all over the United States to work under different lead evaluators and all sorts of things, to learn how they would set up tests. And so figuring out what the qualification criteria are for your evaluators how they are on boarded. Because ideally, a certification, I should be able to show up in Iowa and take a particular type of certification, and then show up in Nevada, and take the same type of certification and have kind of a uniform experience. Yeah. And so that then gets really complicated. If you don’t have a we actually haven’t evaluator directions. Here’s how you set things up. Right? The right and so there’s that whole aspect behind it as well. For you guys to think about.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, yeah, there’s, there’s so much it’s one of those things where I think a lot of us can agree that we do like the idea of having some sort of way to measure proficiency and I’m glad that you kind of separated out proficiency from fluency And, but then as far as getting into the specifics, it’s it’s not an easy thing. Now, so what are? Go ahead?

Robin Greubel 

Well, and I was I was thinking about one of the things that we set up is that you have for the cadaver dog side, it’s a lot like the bomb dog and the narcotics dog stuff. So this might be a way for you guys to think about, Do I have small odor? Or do I have big odor? So the smaller odors are, you know, we have six sections, six different venues in which we’re searching for cadaver odor. And I can have multiple hides and be I can miss one. But a false alert kicks me out.

Kayla Fratt 

Interesting. Yep. So different types of errors are penalised differently.

Robin Greubel 

Correct. And, and we have to take especially for the cadaver dog stuff, we have to take that from the law enforcement, they have the same kind of sort of set of criteria. And that’s set by the courts. You guys don’t quite have that. So you could you could also figure, okay, no false alert kicks you out. But you can miss. Right? So those those are okay, you can miss one or you can miss two out of x, we say 90%. Right. So then we start getting into this games number with how many hides you put up?

Kayla Fratt 

Right? Because if you only have four out, then you have to get for it for it. So there was missing one or you’re at 75.

Robin Greubel 

Right? So So you play with those numbers a little bit. But for the trailing and area search dogs, those are if you don’t find the person you fail, that makes sense. Even if it’s in 160 acres, and there are two people out there, you have to find both people. Yeah, because of what you know, that’s a life

Kayla Fratt 

consequence. Yeah, that makes sense. And that’s something we, you know, we talk about, it’s a little bit of a lesser degree, but in our field, because we don’t we’re not dealing with missing people or bombs. But right, if you’re working on an invasive species project missing is a bigger deal than if you’re working on an endangered species project where you’re just kind of trying to get an idea of how many out there and you’re going to use statistics to fix it later anyway. Right, kind of different, different questions and different problems you might have.

Robin Greubel 

Right? And so that may dictate, you know, you may have, okay, you’re setting up this type of a test, but because of this is this, you might have to have flowcharts, right? Because if this is the type of searching, are you doing invasive species, are you doing endangered species? So then your error rate can be zero? Or 90, you have to have a 90% pass rate, if it’s an invasive species, and for an endangered species, you can do XYZ.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Is being certified the same thing as being operational in any of these fields? Or is that kind of a different? Like, instead of first step before you get considered to be operational? How does that work?

Robin Greubel 

Oh, boy, that’s a can of worms. Okay. So let me just say, I will speak for me. Being certified does not make you operational. Okay. Being certified is kind of like getting your learner’s permit that your dog recognizes and can respond to independently to odor target odor in a various different settings. In no way it’s more for me that your dog is somewhere from competent, working up into proficient. Okay, I Deeley, a fluent dog, which is operational, should be able to respond to target odor in anywhere that they show up and under almost any circumstances with the train final response. So that’s an operational level dog or an operational level team because that also implies that your handler has gone through, you know, they might have to go through various types of training just depending on where they deploy, or whatever. Sure. And in the search and rescue, and most of what I’ve seen in law enforcement, they considered certified operational and which sometimes you get into some really interesting cases. On, Kenny versus should you? Yeah. And you know, I have declined searches because I’m like, that’s not my dogs thing. When Nico was young, he’s my cadaver dog. We especially, we would get called for water searches. And I’m like, we’re not certified. He’s never been on a boat. So now that seems big. Yeah. Right. And so only within about the last year have I’m like, we got on a boat. We did some we trained a little bit, we did certifications, he also happens to be a dog that can infer really fast, which kicks me in the butt sometimes. But he, he’s he can figure that out. But then he’s like dog number seven or eight for me. So the certified versus operational level thing? That’s no, in my opinion, you’re not because there’s always going to be searches or times that I’m asked to come and do something. And I’m like, No, that’s not in our bailiwick. Sorry. Yeah.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, no, that makes perfect sense. And I know, I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot with so my younger dog niffler did his first season last season, he worked a full season on the wind farm. He did exquisitely, I was very, very proud of him. He started when he was nine months old, and we were out in the field every single day. I don’t think I would do that, again. With that young of a dog I was able to, and he did really well. And I kind of got lucky that I didn’t break them. I didn’t push them too hard. And I think that candy versus should you is a good question to ask.

Robin Greubel 

Right? And, and, you know, the Kenny versus should you put your dog on, you know, 15 different things. And that, that gets complicated. Because you know, all of us, I don’t care. If you’re doing conservation work, you’re doing farm dog work, you’re doing search and rescue work. We all want to go do cool stuff with our dogs. 100%. Yeah. And so the, the lower of doing an additional thing, odor or whatever with our dog gets really, really, it’s really alluring. And one of the things that I I’ve been working with some friends of mine, who are doing nosework odors, and I’ve even seen this in my puppies, I will train them on an inconsequential odor. So for a lot of my puppies, I start them on a like pop bottle cap. And if I don’t switch them on to an odor or target odor, they very quickly learn how to work the odor pools and owner of that particular target odor. And they rehearse those when I flip them on to target odor, and they realize that they don’t work as well. Yeah, so and I’m all I agree with you let the puppies it’s not that you can’t teach them things, teach them little segments of everything that they need to know. But holy buckets, let them grow up.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, so yeah, absolutely. And you could break a dog. Yeah, yeah, very, very easily. And there actually, there are a couple of things that I’ve been noticing this year in particular, now I’m handling both of my dogs again, because last year, what happened was I lent my older dog out to a very good friend that now as a co founder of the organization, and, you know, so it worked out and it made sense in that particular context. But now that I’m getting to handle both dogs, I’m really realizing, you know, some of the things that I did over the course of last season, as we were kind of working on getting through the season and getting the job done that now I see how that caused some problems that we’re continuing to work through. Particularly actually, fringe alerts are our big problem. He’s, he’s a pink guy to use your, your terminology. Yes, I think actually a lot of that it wasn’t necessarily being operational with him too early. Well, it kind of was but it was actually mostly I was overcorrecting from my older dog, barley as a dog who cues into me too much and watches me a lot and is very, very sensitive to me. And with niffler I was trying so hard to avoid that I ended up now he basically when he encounters target odor if he thinks I’m not paying close enough attention to him, he will down and look at me until I orient to him and then he will source committee alert. He’s got a proximity alert.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, which I’m actually fine with now that I understand it is he’s doing. And he and I kind of understand why it happened and what I did to cause it. Now, I don’t mind it, but it was it was a thing that was driving me nuts last summer.

Robin Greubel 

And it’s funny, I was just sharing training with Shiva, she’s eight months old. And I’m putting her off of her cap onto her target odor. And I just spent probably two of the most frustrating training sessions until I was like, Oh, my gosh, her hunt drive isn’t where it needs to be all these things, right? Until the last training session, I’m standing there looking at it. And I’m like, here, let me do this. And I took the pop bottle cap, and I put it on the top of target odor. And she’s like, oh, yeah, I got it, mom. No, she is much more of a linear thinker. She doesn’t make those logic jumps. Like some of the other puppies. Yeah. And so sorry, girlfriend.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, sorry. We missed that on you. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, well, okay. So got a little bit off track. But these are these are things that it’s okay. Well,

Robin Greubel 

this actually goes back to certifications, because there are quite a few certifications out there that you can’t certify the dog until they’re at least a year old. Which I actually think is a really good idea, because it goes back to that mental maturity of can they actually handle the task that you’re putting in front of them? And we everybody knows that your your puppies go through a fear period? And do you really want to be putting your dog in an operational level setting, even after the age of one where they could be going through a fear period? And you’ve just, you’re, you’re done? If something bad happens while you’re out there?

Kayla Fratt 

Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. I think, yeah, there’s a lot of considerations with young dogs. And I did a whole podcast episode last summer about why I chose to work niffler at such a young age and how I was thinking about it. And I’m going to revisit that, now that I’m working him as a slightly older dog. And I think I still, you know, I don’t think I made the absolute wrong decision with a capital W. But you learn there’s a specific, there were very specific things. I mean, one of the things I talked about in that particular episode was particularly how wind farm work works, it is pretty much the only project that conservation dog folks work on that I would consider working such a young dog on because it’s 100 meter by 100 meter plots. So pretty small search areas, it’s like 10, to 15 minute searches. And on this particular wind farm that I’m at, we have relatively high casualty numbers. So you’re probably searching seven turbines a day, and you’re probably getting two or three blanks, and then two, or three with anywhere from one to eight finds per turbine.

Robin Greubel 

And you can probably confirm just by visually or easily, right that you’ve in most cases, but that is actually a really good target rich environment, to teach your dogs, your young dogs and skill sets. Exactly. And so he’s

Kayla Fratt 

gonna totally get to the heights he was getting. And one of the cool things with bats as well that we get is we’ll have every will have different stages of decomposition. He even last summer found a couple live bats, which was fascinating, that hadn’t passed yet. And everything from a full carcass down to he’s found little tiny tufts of hair or fragments of bone or whatever. So he’s clearly also getting to practice with different kinds of levels of volunteers, different sizes of Yeah, so it’s a really, really cool. It’s boring in a lot of ways, because you’re literally just walking back and forth across the field listening to turbines who Shut you, right, but as far as like an odor puzzle, and a really, really cool way to get your dog used to working a wide variety of types of odor cones and thresholds, and volatility and all this cool stuff. It’s very cool for that. Right?

Robin Greubel 

Yes. Which is, you know, basically what we’re do we do with a lot of the cadaver dogs, I mean, it’s just where’s the best place to be searching so that it’s one of those things people think dog training is this whole cookbook. Now I want to list I want to know, a progression plan. You know, I have progression plans for specific skill sets. But you still have to combine all of those things together, based on the animal sitting in front of you on how they’re going to work. And so there’s not a lot of cookie cutter. Sorry.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah. I love that. This seems to be something that is included in some of these certifications you’re describing where there is some amount of have, you know the flair or the flavor of a given dog team to succeed, you know, if you know that your dog works in X pattern and works in X way, you as the evaluate T, I guess, can set things up to work in a way that works for you. And then demonstrate your proficiency that way versus you know, it’s not like the Presidential Fitness Test or someone sitting there and they’re like, alright, in order to prove that you are fit, you have to do three pull ups, you have to touch your toes. You have to run the shuttle run in under 15 seconds. Like it’s not it’s not that dude. I’m out

Kayla Fratt 

I run marathons, but I suck at the Presidential Fitness Test. And I think that’s why it’s a good

Robin Greubel 

Iā€™m good. So the way that I look at certifications and you know, one of the things that and this is why the apprenticing of your examiner’s are evaluators is so important is you start figuring out how you set things up. I was working with somebody who is not even a candidate evaluator yet, but she’s like, I want to know how to set up tests for an evaluation. Like, okay, so she’s like, and I want to do it by myself. Okay. Go set up hides rock on sister, because then I get to do them blind. And we started having a conversation as we went through the areas of, you know, this is your learner’s permit, I need to know, can the dog recognize odor? Can the handler mark off where they haven’t haven’t been? Can they set up a really, really nice search strategy, that if their dog recognizes odors, odor, the dog would move in and alert independently? That’s the tip. And then and then what ends up happening on top of all of that, and some of it also depends on how long is your hide sitting out? I work with certifications, where the hide sits out anywhere from 30 minutes up to 48 hours. Yeah. And the size of source, the how you locate source. And you need to make it in your criteria that if the handler goes up and looks for source that they fail, because that’s not what we’re testing, right? That’s not what we’re testing. We’re testing can the dog find it? And can the handler recognize the body language and everything that goes along with the dog? Right, right. So there’s a little bit of a difference there from what we do to even what you do, because you will have handlers that go up and look. Because that’s what you do when you’re locating bats.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, but that but I’m sure I can see it.

Robin Greubel 

Right. Is that really what you want to be testing? Or do you set it up so that maybe your bats are visible and half your bats are invisible?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, yeah. And our handler and the dog actually succeed even without the handler walking up and saying yes, that is Yeah, well, even again, with the bats we run into situations where I’ve had to get down on my hands and knees and like put on my gloves and rake through grass trying because the dog is really insistent and then I’ll pull out a little fragment toss something yeah tough to attack and then and then we throw the ball and then we have the party and that’s something we also have to teach the dog is how to wait and handled necessarily yes be persistent. Yes. Because both of my dogs will there have been times where I’ve really I’ve been like No buddy I’m so sorry. I don’t I’m not seeing it. I don’t know we’re just gonna go on with they both are familiar with variable rates of reinforcement. But if they take me back time and time again that is when I will start getting down on my hands and knees and trying to find it and we’ve also it was interesting in your podcast you recently were talking about the show me and how that makes all of your eyes twitch. And I was like, oh I have taught a show me but it is in this very specific I need you to pinpoint it because I I understand I can alerting the third time but I do not see it my friend. Please just poke it with your nose for me.

Robin Greubel 

Yeah, because your mom’s an idiot. Please. Let’s just play the pony trick.

Kayla Fratt 

I’m nose but blind. Please. I can’t tell the difference between a blade of grass. Like you. I mean you live on a farm like a blade of kind of dried out straw and a bat bone. Turns out they look Basically the exam

Robin Greubel 

will end even human bones after they’ve been out side for what they look like sticks. Yeah. So, right. I think about it this way. And part of it is to we put pressure on people during a certification. So you know, I have this whole litany of things that okay, how does your dog indicate interest? Okay, you give me my dog when in odor, he his pace speeds up, his mouth closes, he does Mr. Active sniffing, he’ll usually end up his tail starts going. Nikko has a scorpion tail. So he’s got one that crawls all the way up behind. And when he’s running and just regular hunting, it’s very, very still and and bright over his back. But once he gets into odor, it starts wagging. And then it’s almost like, before he does his train final response, the tail goes much faster, because it’s winding up the bark to come out the other end. Yeah, that’s how I have to mention it. And so now it makes me laugh. And so I asked the candidate to actually articulate all of that to me as an evaluator. So then I know, mainly, can my is what the dog did. And what they actually what the handler says they’re going to do the same thing. So that I understand that the candidate understands how to read their dog’s body language.

Kayla Fratt 

I love that question. And I can imagine a lot of handlers and like, for example, so we’re running a conservation dog handling course right now online, it’s we’re in week three, our students are amazing. I love them all very much. And they’re making a ton of progress. And as of right now, I think a lot of them probably could not answer that question yet. And that is also where you start getting into this over emphasis of the alert because you can’t read your dog unless they alert and I love again, I think it was your show you were talking about can you identify the moment right before the dog alerts and barleys little towel. So he searches we call it his periscope tail, you can often he’s got the big black fluffy tail with the white tip classic Border Collie. And you can see it going above the grass. Sometimes it’s all you can see. And as he gets into odor, it starts helicoptering and right before he alerts, it does a very funny and as he’s bracketing, it’ll tend to do really wide sweep side to side his tail is super expressive. He’s a lovely dog for teaching body language. And then right before he leaves, he does this funny. It’s like an up down. It’s like you push the tail down as a lever and it’s springing back up. And I’ll do that like once or twice, and then he alerts and it’s so funny to watch. And then flare. On the other side. He is much harder to read. He’s much less expressive. He doesn’t tend to bracket much once he gets older. He just runs straight up when it’s I don’t know how he does it. He doesn’t bracket he doesn’t crab, he doesn’t tend to do much at all. But his nose drops his nose lips when he catches odor. And then as nose drops. He does a bit of snuffling and then holder. Anyway all this to say is I love that you asked that question and ask people to define it. And particularly if people I don’t know if this is the case, can people look up with a certification is going to be like and those sorts of things. That’s amazing. So then watching video and answer those questions for themselves. As part of studying and it’s not training to the test. It’s preparing and understanding that if the test is doing its job, preparing to pass the test is preparing ourselves to be operational.

Robin Greubel 

Correct. And you’re actually a really good test. And the way a test is set up is all about identifying certain skill sets. So what what are, you know, one of the little lines on my score sheet? Did the dog work into odor independently and complete their train final response? Can the handler articulate and recognize when the dog is working owner and those are completes and didn’t do not completes on my score sheet that I select. And so people need to think about the whole concept of a certification is really just testing those particular skill sets. And you’ll do much better now the thing I will strongly encourage everybody to get used to is completing an LRT before you even get to go on. And the reason that I suggest this is because even for the cadaver dogs were you know, I would really like to know before I go through setting Have a test that the candidates that I am testing, their dog can tell the difference and will respond appropriately to human remains versus a dead possum.

Kayla Fratt 

Yes, I was just going to ask about that.

Robin Greubel 

That’s the place for your discrimination is in our tea. And you get into certifications who are like, Oh, hey, in your certification, let’s put food in the middle of a barn. Mm hmm. And or let’s put a big potato out in the middle of your barn and my dogs like, why is there a big potato in the hay barn? No, that’s really weird. Mom, you should know that there’s a big potato in the hay barn. And 90% of the places where you guys are going to go set up certifications, there’s going to be other dead animals in the area, there is going to be other distractors that are already there. Which means you don’t have to put diversions out, which is also part of the de episode of our podcasts.

Kayla Fratt 

That was one that I felt like I needed to take notes on how to go back to listen to it. So I got a little lost it was it was a lot. But it was it was a lot. Yeah,

Robin Greubel 

We thought we were funny. So you know,

Kayla Fratt 

what it turned out to be what like the 15 DS of detection.

Robin Greubel 

I think we settled me and Stacy have settled on six crystal still fights before. Okay, so but she she also has acquiesced that she thinks that instead of direct distractions, everything should actually be called diversions. Okay. And distractions wrapped. So Jadwin

Kayla Fratt 

congratulations. No, I think that’s a good point. And that’s, you know, my original mentors at working dogs for conservation when we were talking about you know, someone in in conservation dogs SCOTUS a big problem because it so here’s the classic example red fox and bobcat, not uncommon to want a dog to find bobcat, relatively uncommon to want to find a dog to find red fox. So pretty ubiquitous, not a lot of conservationists are worried about them. At the extremes telling bobcat and red fox Scout apart, not super duper difficult. But unfortunately, those textbook examples are pretty rare. And in reality, that visual Venn diagram is pretty darn close to a circle. Particularly if you’re looking at anything that’s not super fresh, it can be really difficult to tell the difference as a handler. And then you get into the question of with these similar sized carnivores with similar diets. In similar environments, that olfactory signal may also be somewhat similar, or you could end up with you know, my older dog barley is definitely the sort of dog who just he kind of likes to guess he kind of likes to say, Hey, how about this? Hey, how about this?

Robin Greubel 

It’s one of the problems pay for that one. Yeah,

Kayla Fratt 

exactly. You know, it’s one of the things that actually niffler is a lower drive dog as far as his reinforcers go. And it makes him a little bit easier, because he has a little bit less likely to guess because he’s not quite as desperate for that toy. At least that’s my hypothesis, as far as part of the difference between the two of them. Also, hopefully, I’ve been a better trainer with NetFlow than I was with barley.

Robin Greubel 

Because different things, but yeah, then you’ll learn things. Everybody’s like, I’m good. I don’t want to screw up my dog. I’m like, don’t worry, you’re gonna make mistakes. It’ll be fine. Oh, yeah.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah. NetFlow is better than barley in some ways, and worse and otherwise, and that’s fine. It’s different new mistakes, is what it is. Yes. But so anyway, so that’s all to say. So we’ve got this problem with Scott, this is very common with a lot of different Dyads of animals, you’ve got these scouts that visually are really hard to tell apart or impossible. So that you’ve got to get into this question of when and how do you introduce these distractor odors in training? And generally speaking, like when I was at working dogs for conservation, what they like to do is just take the dogs out into areas where you expect those. I can’t know, I don’t know if this is a distractor or a diversion. To show retirement. Yeah, right. Rather than putting them out a lot in your early stages of training, the theory kind of being early on, you don’t want the emotional that’s really strong, positive, conditioned emotional response that comes up in training to get associated with it distractor that you’re able to tie in the Go ahead.

Robin Greubel 

So what do I think so I think about I think about the stories with Skinner, who have the pigeons in the boxes, and they taught the pigeon by you know, green light picket the green light packet, the green light, the green Green Light was really, really big and really, really bright. And they always had the red light there, but it was really dim and really small. And then, because you have so much mass on the green light, they can actually dim the green light down, make it really, really small and make the red light really, really big and really, really bright. And the pigeon would only pick the green light. So I want to put a lot of money in the correct odors bank account, before I introduce a different odor.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, that is specially similar that potentially similar Yeah.

Robin Greubel 

Right? That that they’re going to have to make really, really hard discrimination on. And so you guys are also kind of like us in the cadaver dog world where I have to think of my odor and like four dimensions. Well, it’s Welcome to Star Trek, right? So so I have size of odor, or how much odor availability there is because it doesn’t it’s no longer wait, right? It’s surface area. And then you have How long has it been sitting out in its current environment, then you also have what is the makeup of that particular odor. Plus, you then have where’s the odor located in its environment. So I have all of these different things that I have to think about with odor that I just want to tell the dog, let’s just go find carrots. And that’s beef stew out there. And you’ve got some weird kind of carrots, but I just want you to find the little orange ones, not the purple ones or whatever other color and carrots there are. So I agree with the lots and lots of time spent on the right here and then all the rest of the stuff becomes background noise.

Kayla Fratt 

Listen, you and your dog are already canine conservationists by listening to the show. So go ahead and show it off join the club, check out our brand new merch store, which is located at k9conservationists.org/shop. It’s stocked with stickers and magnets and bags and shirts, we’re adding new designs all the time. If you’re an artist wanting to collaborate, just we split profits and are eager to hear from us reach out at k9conservationists@gmail.com. We also offer all of our webinars on demand through our store. So you can check out our puppy raising webinar alerts and changes of behavior, introducing a target odor, as well as seeking sourcing and alerting. We’re also planning to add new webinars to this all the time. So if you’ve got a request for a webinar, or you’re a practitioner hoping to contribute a webinar, again, we’re going to split our profits with you and you can reach out to us I k9conservationist@gmail.com. Let’s keep the learning going.

Yeah, exactly. And you know, the nice thing is, generally, it’s going to come up in your search area, you know, I know for a fact that my dogs like it’s just a numbers game, they must be ignoring dead frogs, dead mice, all sorts of other things that just happen out in the environment as they’re finding these dead bats because there’s no way that the only dead thing we’ve walked past and now actually, just this week, I started I collected a bunch of roadkill and other dead things I found out and we did like a big o r t setup with my guides to see and you know, gosh, did it. Yeah, and I just did it just just because I did one where I put out everything about the bat. And both of them. You know, they don’t have a clear trend response. And they just kept going and they kept going and kept going. And eventually I called them off because I was like, Okay, I don’t need to get to the point where either you’re really frustrated or you do decide to throw an alert at something else.

Robin Greubel 

And the other thing for your discrimination exercises, or your or Ts are your training supplies, the latex gloves, you know, those sorts of things. That’s what goes in the O R T I know my bomb dogs, we spend a lot of time on adhesives, and plastics, because most of your explosives are actually wrapped in plastic. So unless you actually take the RDX out or Petten or whatever you want out of the explosive, there’s actually the tubing or the plastic that encases the explosive, which you know, having your dog alert really promptly on command strips is always not the best thing when it’s bomb dog because that could cause all sorts of problems. So we we spend time training you know making sure that that is not that goes into the o r t a lot dog toys really me choose, you know those sorts of thing because we can then confirm with the dog that No, in order to get this awesome thing you have to go do my stupid game. Yeah,

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah. Well, I know one of the things. So what is the setup like in your or teason certification? Because one of the things I’ve noticed is my dogs will do really well at dismissing glass jars gloves. You know, I’ll just like put something random that I’ve touched out in a search environment. They do really well in like a lineup or in a pretty tightly controlled thing. But if I throw the same thing at them, where I put it out in a real kind of operational search, and then they run into it 810 15 minutes in, then I actually get a different response than what I got in the lineup. Right? That’s weird.

Robin Greubel 

Mom, why is that hot potato out in the middle of my search area? Exactly. That Well, yeah, diversion. That in my opinion, that’s a diversion, right? Because they’re, they’re telling you hey, this is because at the end of the day, our dogs are still novelty detectors. They will. If there’s something novel and weird in the area, they will be like, Hey, this is weird.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, we did find a tortoise the other day, that was the first target alert we’ve had this summer. And it was a dead tortoise. And I was like, Yeah, you’re right. That is that it’s pretty weird. That’s weird. That’s, that’s the first tortoise we found out.

Robin Greubel 

Right. Thanks. But now. And so that’s one of those things that when you start looking at setting up certifications, I don’t spend a lot of I’ll dig false holes, because we do buried. Yeah, we’ll dig false holes, because that’s actually also a discrimination thing. Sure. So it’s, and that’s why going back and really thinking through how you set up the certification is going to be really important. And then how you, you know, you guys might have to get really creative on you have evaluators who are certified to do large odor, or you have evaluators who are certified to do small odor thresholds, or, you know, those sorts of things, just because how I set up, you know, looking for a live human are looking for mountain lion kill sites, is going to be a little bit different than how I would set up behind for somebody to find muscles. Yes, because muscles are located in probably certain particular areas of boats and those sorts of things. And that’s the sort of knowledge that you have to have, in order to set up at least a realistic test. And I remember, it doesn’t have to be superduper realistic, but okay, it’s, it has to can the dog search in the environment in which you want to deploy? Yeah. And then the other side of that is, then you start getting into the whole complications, because one of the things we run into in the search and rescue world a lot is we really need to have two evaluators. Yeah. Because there’s, it’s much easier to talk through, is this a setup issue? Is this a dog issue, you also have personality issues that come into play, and how you think, right, because you want to see a whole bunch of people get really, really stressed out, throw them all in one location and tell them they’re going to get certified. And you have people, you know, to go through all of that and look, so FEMA, for example, they have two piles for their certification exams. They have a chief evaluator, or the testing chief, who basically brought runs the whole entire test, and then each pile has a chief of that pile. And then you have evaluators that work underneath all of them. That’s when we were doing the big huge tests. So you might have six evaluators running around. Wow, it’s, it’s not a really big pile. And so you have somebody who can always watch the dog and watch the handler and all those sorts of things. But, you know, even as a certifying official, like, we just did cadaver dog certifications this weekend, and I’m the Chief examiner, meaning I’m responsible for all of the paperwork that goes the liability waivers, the turning in the score sheets, you know, all of those things that go back to headquarters, so headquarters can issue the certificates and the credentialing carts. And then how long are your certificate? Are your certifications good for?

Kayla Fratt 

Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Robin Greubel 

Do you require training logs? Or oh, how are you? How are you delineate a delineating on people certificates? What they’re certified to do? Yeah, yeah. And do muscles and invasive plants and black footed cats?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah. Well, and that’s that is something we’ve also talked about kind of in these yappy hours where we get together and talk about, you know, if we do this, how are we going to do? It is? Yeah, a lot of us our dogs are trained on multiple, multiple targets and multiple different types of targets. And, you know, how expensive would it be if you know Bartley and I were expected to do separate certifications for all seven of his targets? But also, do we really want to just do the one?

Robin Greubel 

And then it becomes Is there a way to set up events where maybe you do it? And you know, I’m just throwing stuff out here? Because I don’t live in your world? Do you do Oh, RTS where you have all of these different odors? And then you’re given? Here’s your search area, your dog there, there might be a bat and a turtle out in your search area. And all of the listeners can’t see my face because I was struggling for what two species to put out in your search area. They’re there in your search area. And there’s two random sort of things, but they’re in your repertoire of things that your dog will alert to? Will they alert to that out in a natural setting? Yeah, you might have to get just a little creative on how. And then the other question is, do you allow people to bring their own odors? We don’t for cadaver work? You can’t bring your own odor?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, I think we would potentially have to, because I like you have permitting issues for us as far as what do we really want our evaluators to be required to hold invasive species and endangered species handling permits for every single potential species that the evaluate T’s are going to have? And then can we even acquire those you know, for example, like barley is vaguely trained on ivory for a project that was back at working dogs for conservation? I can’t acquire ivory, I don’t have access to ivory. I, you know, like, and so that would actually probably be one where like, if I were to ever go ahead and certify a I don’t think I’d even pursue ivory because it’s just not really, it’s not our future. But as an example, there are dogs, you know, Lauren went and her dog Benny used to work at Port of Seattle, or port of Tacoma. Anyway, Washington, on bare gallbladder, ivory on shark fin. And yeah, if she wanted to come do an evaluation somewhere else, you know, she would probably have to bring her eyebrow and her shark fin.

Robin Greubel 

All right, because you guys don’t have and so then you get into I know a lot of the life find because it’s actually kind of difficult sometimes to find people who want to go sit out in the woods for four and a half hours. You know, the requirement is you can’t have they can’t work on the person who’s hiding for 30 days prior.

Kayla Fratt 

Okay.

Robin Greubel 

And to be perfectly honest, I think that that is a random weird number. Because yeah, I’ll, I’ll be honest. The there’s some research out there that Auburn just published that, you know, the dogs can remember odors for much longer than that. And I just did some anecdotal stuff with my one my narcotics dog, that she’s hasn’t been on odor and like, six months, and she’s like, oh, yeah, I remember that. Okay, so yeah, maybe we need to work cocaine a little more often. Sorry. It was fine. So there. And, yeah, so there’s all of those different kinds of nuances that you might have to think about? And is it is it more about the type of searching and you know, versus if you say, your dogs on seven different odors, okay, you’ve got seven different odors, but is the sampling them have to be unknown to the dog? That there might be, you know, a random how many people are on bats. So somebody at one of the evaluator said, Oh, I have five people are doing that. So I’ll bring bats and here’s this section and then or is it? You know, if the dog is on bats and turtles and black footed cats?

Robin Greubel 

Can they? Can you make an assumption or an inference? Because they’ve done so well in XYZ, that they’re going to be proficient or fluent across the board?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, that seems like the simpler route. I don’t know if it’s necessarily the best route. But yeah, like, to me, it seems like it would potentially make sense to do a couple or two years kind of confirming. Can your dog do the odor you say it can do the odors? And then lets, you know, maybe if you say that your dog can both do spotted lantern fly, and bat carcasses? Let’s do those two, because they’re kind of extremes as far as search styles. And then yeah, we’re not going to ask you to do both spotted lantern fly and zebra mussels, because a lot of places are actually pretty similar. I don’t know, something, something like that. We kind of do the O R T with all of them. And then a larger, more like that body language can the dog do? Can the dog sores? Can the dog perform the alert? Can the handler recognize it? That doesn’t have to, I don’t think that would have to be done with every odor.

Robin Greubel 

Right? And so. So if you’re going from the muscles, can they do appropriate detail work? All the way over to Okay, a bat that can they, you know, work in an area where there might be hopping grasshoppers and not get distracted by the grasshoppers and want to eat them all. At the end, you know, some of that, actually, it’s you. We laugh, but I’ve seen dogs that come from other parts of the country and show up in Iowa. And they’re like, oh my god, what are these fabulous, tasty, hoppy things? Oh, wow. Yeah. And, you know, if, if you’re in Arizona, they don’t see grasshoppers.

Kayla Fratt 

That’s true. I wouldn’t have even thought of that. Well, and then we’re not we’re not going to go down this rabbit hole. But here’s a whole other level. For example, Astaire Matthews was on our show a while ago, she trained her dog to find a live rib Orion rabbits. Critically Endangered Species, she trained the dog on Roadkill of the species because she could not get permits or access to any live individuals. The dog was successful that I was performing kind of a proximity alert. And then the the She was then visually confirming species ID either before the rabbit flush or out the rabbit flushed in some cases. And that would be this whole, like, I don’t even know how you touch the can of worms of trying to work on particularly a flighty, live animal. You know, turtles are one thing. Turtles, tortoises, those are kind of our typical live find animals that we have in conservation dog world. But that doesn’t mean that right? Yeah. Like, never, we’re never going to be able to like, I mean, a critically endangered species that’s not kept in zoo collections. And even if it were good luck convincing a zoo to lend us their rabbits. For dogs. Yeah, not gonna happen now. So if Estera and Jessie wanted to certify in something, they have a myriad of other targets that they work on. And we you know, probably I don’t see how you would ever touch something like that. Really?

Robin Greubel 

And, and so I guess I would think then really strong. strongly about if you were teaching your dog to find m&ms. What skill sets do the dogs need to find an individual m&m? Versus teaching a dog to find a whole chocolate cake? Because if for me, it’s all about chocolate.

Kayla Fratt 

You’re making wine?

Robin Greubel 

I know what skill set do they need to have to find a whole chocolate cake? And it’s, it’s can they find both? And maybe it’s not even just one chocolate cake because I’m thinking of the mountain lion kill site, right?

Kayla Fratt 

That’s yeah, but the chocolate cake.

Robin Greubel 

Right? The chocolate cake factory. So you’ve are the m&m factory. So you’ve got the the different skill sets so how do you set up a test that it doesn’t really matter what odors out there? Yeah. And, you know, setting that up can can they do systematic search on a vehicle or on the ground or on a boat, or in a you know, for a boat for muscles, so does the dog and the handler have the skill sets to be able to do systematic searching of that way. If you’re doing larger, you know, there’s that that’s like a boat for a search area, then you’ve got a wind farm field, your 100 meters by 100 meters. That’s a test. That’s a skill set. Then you have your mountain lion kill site type of test, which is like larger area

Kayla Fratt 

Hundreds of acres. Yeah.

Robin Greubel 

Right. And can you somewhat simulate that skill set by just doing an 80 acre test? Yeah. And then scaling down your odor size to be appropriate for an 80 acre test? Yeah, yeah, that that might be. And then you could always have people select, hey, you know, I’m doing this type of a test. And here are the species that I’m doing. And I’m sure that for your muscles, you need to know certain things. But if you’re going to go do searching on muscles, so the learning platform that they use, they can select what they need, and it will pull out of your testbank the appropriate questions that they need to ask them in that tool, or you do something. Yeah, listen to me kind of like no, do this. And everybody’s like, No, we’re gonna send her hate mail.

Kayla Fratt 

We can change your voice will will protect your identity. Knock on wood, but so far, we’ve never gotten hate mail. And as far as I know, none of our guests have either our listeners are very nice people. We love them dearly. Last question, because I do have to let you, you finish your thought I got one last question for you. Well,

Robin Greubel 

and as long as you I, my philosophy and certifications has evolved and searching has evolved from oh my gosh, I have to go out and search like something’s there to have evolving to the fact that it’s my job to make sure that my dog covers its area. And my dogs job is to tell me that something’s there.

Kayla Fratt 

Mm hmm. Yeah. Right.

Robin Greubel 

So so that’s kind of turned into how I look at it. And I’ll I will say this point blank. The certifications I’ve learned the most from are the ones that I failed? Of course, yeah, that makes sense. Right. And if at the end of the day, with a certification, all I’ve done is pay somebody to set out blind hides?

Kayla Fratt 

Money, it’s a very expensive blind ha, yes.

Robin Greubel 

It is a very expensive, and it’s very expensive lesson. Yes.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah. So I guess my last question was, it’s two prong, but it’s getting at the same thing for different angles. Is there anything that you see a lot of these tests doing that you think is unnecessary? And is there anything you’re seeing these certifications not doing that you think would be really helpful? Basically, is there anything you would change kind of broadly about what you’re seeing in the certification world these days.

Robin Greubel 

Um, the thing that I would like to see universally across the board is longer set times, which gets logistically difficult. Most of your narcotics and explosives they set for half an hour. A lot of the cadaver dog and life find hides set for half an hour. I, I enjoy the fact that the certification for the cadaver dogs that I do minimum set time is 24 hours. But which requires me to be really creative on securing things because we have coyotes, possums and raccoons. And I don’t want them absconding with my source. And, but the odor pools that it creates, are challenging. And the other thing that I see is people set their hides in alignment with the certifications. So if you only have a half an hour set time, you only always let your odor set for a half an hour. But I’m pretty sure the kids that you’re trying to find the joints or whatever in their car, have not had them sitting in the dash of the car for only a half an hour, generally. So right, the odor pools are significantly larger than what the certifications actually allow for. So if I was going to change something with my superduper magic certification wand, that would be that we would have the appropriate time for people to set hides safely so that the hides could be run 4024 4836 cuz hours later,

Kayla Fratt 

that makes sense. Yeah, yeah. Which I, like, I’m guessing here, but that’s probably a little bit different from bomb dogs, I would imagine most bombs are set for a lot less time. I would imagine if I was trying to bomb, something I probably could do the FBI is coming out as I speak. If I were trying to bomb something, I think I’d probably be bringing it in same day, if not, the last minute, I would imagine,

Robin Greubel 

and you probably and then the thing that you have to realize is with some with of the bomb dog, or we think of like a pound of C for or which by the way is like really huge, makes really big bomb stuff. Big, big boom. The actual portion or even in a pipe bomb. pipe bombs are something that everybody kind of can. When I say pipe bomb, everybody’s like, Oh, this is what a pipe bomb looks like. If you think about the odorant availability on a pipe bomb is actually only where the wires go into it. And if especially if the person has wiped down the outside of the bomb. So it’s a clean bomb. And so the odor threshold is actually very, very small. For most bomb dogs, so that’s, yeah, total random thoughts on that one. But

Kayla Fratt 

yeah, it’s fascinating. I mean, it was. So I just finished reading him. I just I mean, it’s probably been six months, the science of canines and scents by Tom auster camp. Again, it was fascinating reading, you know, he had chapters on bombs. And it wasn’t on bombs, but like the buried source chapter relied very heavily on bombs. And they talked about, you know, the variability of headspace and volatility of some of the odors that all fall under this bomb category is way more complex that I realized I spent a lot of time reading that book and being like, Oh, damn, that’s a yeah, that’s,

Robin Greubel 

it’s, it’s and and you know, a lot of the bomb dogs. I know, when we were getting ready for certifications the first time they’re like, yeah, here’s your 16 different odors. Yep. Yeah. And they move and just like everything else, ammonium nitrate, aged ammonium nitrate smells differently, then brand new ammonium nitrate. And so there’s actually yeah, no, because nothing can be easy. So to do that, and it turns into a brick. So it attracts water and then turns into a brick. Yeah. So you three gates are always entertaining.

Kayla Fratt 

That’s, that’s a, that’s a yeah, that’s, you know, and then this goes back to your pooling comment of the set times, again, when I was reading that book, and I was reading about, you know, things like rich to rich scent, transport and some of these other really big landscape level odor dynamics. This was before I left, I met the woman who’s working on mountain lion kills, but I was kind of reading that being like, you, I can’t imagine any of my target odors really having a big enough cone to do that, to do them. And even the really big, you know, in talking about pooling and pooling being, you know, ages away from, you know, I shouldn’t say ages, but meters and meters away from your actual source. I think in most cases, that’s not likely to be something that we’re running into in the conservation dog world, because we’re just not working with a source that’s that

Robin Greubel 

big. Right? And so it much might be a much more important skill set of can your dog drop their nose and hunt on the ground and do more of a systematic search, because your odor thresholds are much smaller? So it’s finding out what you know, okay, instead of looking what odor is actually out there, at this point, I would start looking at what skill sets do the dogs need, no matter what the odor is to be successful? And then that’s the skill sets that you start testing.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, yeah. And I think a lot of them fall in like scouts, and bat scouts and bat, so it’s nice. That could be our band.

Robin Greubel 

I think that’s a new T shirt.

Kayla Fratt 

Yep, gotta write that down. It’s got some bats, they fall in this really nice medium level there. You know, our bat detection distances are often you know, it’s not uncommon to see 770 meter detection distances, which is really nice, but we’re not getting one kilometer detection distances, which is also really nice. Because

Robin Greubel 

it it then provides you with the Okay, on average, this is how big our search areas need to be.

Kayla Fratt 

Yes, sir. And it’s just it’s nice that generally we’re dealing with these odors that it’s like, you know, with kind of pathogens and insects aside, and I guess mollusks generally we’re not dealing What stuff where the dogs have to be nose to the ground? Superduper hard working detail stuff, right? I might be over generalizing a little bit here. But generally, I don’t know, I think we work with pretty nice signs of odor cons in a lot of cases. But again, it’s just, there’s so much variability. So,

Robin Greubel 

right, so you don’t necessarily need to test can the dog, you know, keep its nose stuck to the cracks of a boat or something? Yeah, or so. That’s because you know, in narcotics and explosives you’re trying to teach the dogs to do seems because that’s where everything escapes.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, but yeah, I’m really well, yeah, well, awesome. Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, we’re starting to go in circles. I need to let you go.

Robin Greubel 

One of those. Yeah, it’s one of those that I, you know, it might be one of those things, if you have any sort of database that tracks those types of fines to pull out and what looks the the bell curve looks like for the majority of the time, this is what we’re finding. And that’s the distribution in which you do your testing.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, no, I think that makes sense. And we’ve actually, the canine conservationists team has a paper coming out on variability on detection distances and conservation dogs. So that’ll be go. That’ll be the peer reviewed IBC journal coming out real soon. So I’m very excited about that. And just as you expect, it’s all over the place, because actually, we haven’t even talked about it. But Wales scat is the one where that is another one where you get detection distances and the light kilometers.

Robin Greubel 

So, wow. I don’t know how you set up a test for that.

Kayla Fratt 

Uh, yeah. No, I, I mean, this is like, fundamentally where we keep coming back to with this is like, these certifications, it will by necessity be somewhat limited. And we will probably never be able to like, I don’t think it actually makes sense, even as an industry to put all of our effort into figuring out the perfect test for every single hypothetical ecosystem target odor distractor it? No, we’re not going to do it.

Robin Greubel 

Right. So because I mean, even I even look at cadaver dogs coming from New Mexico to test in Iowa, it’s not necessarily the odor moves differently, you hear all of those sorts of things. And so the regional testing would be ideal. And, and looking at how you onboard and and select will select evaluators, apprentice them, and then can you tap into other professions to pull in people who know how to read a dog. They may not know the specific odor that you’re working, but they know how to read a dog and can say yes or no.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, yeah, no, I think that’s probably a good place to leave. And a really important point. And we’ll probably be revisiting this episode and potentially reaching out hopefully in a couple of years as

Robin Greubel 

welcome. More how I can help. Yep. Yeah, let me really

Kayla Fratt 

appreciate it. Well, Robin, and I know you have a bunch of amazing online learning. I personally have bought all of your different infographics that are relevant to us. I didn’t buy your interiors and vehicles, because we figured, yeah, but your Valley odor movement, and those sorts of things have been fabulous. So anyway, plug away tell us where to find you. That’s where to throw our money.

Robin Greubel 

That is all out on the website. So the canine census.org I have a various types of on demand webinars. This fall, I’ll be spinning up my own mother webinar series about detection dogs to do all of that this fall. We’re getting ready to release the calendar probably by the end of October our calendar 2023 will be out. Crystal Stacy and I who we do the canine detection collaborative podcast. We’re going to be offering distraction a camp here in Iowa again next summer. So keep tabs on that. I also with a couple of the webinars I did last year, I have a couple of other things plus the this set theory graphics you are talking about. And I also do one on one coaching. So I do virtual coaching. And if you want to come to the farm I can do in person coaching as well. So I mean just I was happy to hear what people are up to and what they think they might need.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, well that’s great and your your website and your podcast are both really huge resources and really it’s been fun to get to talk to all sorts of different you know other really badass Female canine handlers. It’s it’s great because there used to say,

Robin Greubel 

there’s a lot of us out there, we just haven’t been very vocal. And so it’s nice to have the community kind of pick up and start being like, hey, no, we kind of know what we’re doing. Yeah, turns

Kayla Fratt 

out turns out sometimes when you have to fight harder to be somewhere, that also means

Robin Greubel 

kind of, yeah, did I say flag in the ground? You did? Outside voice and it was amazing. It’s amazing.

Kayla Fratt 

Well, Robin, thank you so much. This has been a pleasure. I’m excited for everyone to get to hear this and for everyone at home, I hope you are inspired and feeling ready to go outside and be a canine conservationist in whatever way suits your passions and your skill set. You can find us online at k9conservationists.org where we’ve got everything from merch to just you know, you can straight up donate it to us if you want and webinars and Patreon and all that good stuff you you know the deal. So find that over at k9conservationist.org. Until next time!