Fringe Alerts with Stacy Barnett

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla talks to Stacy Barnett about fringe alerts in detection dogs. 

Episode suggestion: Get up and go for a little walk!

What is fringing?

  • When a dog alerts to odor outside of the preferred range of where the indication should be, aka too far away
  • The final response begins where sourcing ends, so with fringing, the sourcing ends prematurely, making the alert farther away from the scent than is preferred 

Why does it happen?

  • The behavior chain of sourcing and alerting is off balance
    • Over-enthusiastic for the search 
    • Over emphasising the alert/not enough emphasis on sourcing the odor
  • Different kind of setting with work/trial vs training
    • For a trial or working a job, you are under different stressors and you aren’t able to control the environment and set up 
    • When under pressure, your behavior may be different which can be difficult for your dog to work with
  • Differentiation of odor concentration 
    • If working in a situation with different odor concentrations, they may start to conclude a certain concentration of odor and start alerting to only that strength of scent
  • It may be too easy or too hard
  • Genetics is a big deal, but training is a bigger deal 

What are ways we can fix it?

  • More balanced training sessions – both sourcing and alerting
  • “Show me” cue
  • Ignoring fringe alerts and encouraging them to keep working/”keep going” cue
  • Working to get the “show me” cue or the “keep going” cue out of the behavior chain 

What are the downfalls of the “show me” cue?

  • Can cause your dog to rely on the handler to source
  • Can become a prompted cue to alert
  • It is important to make sure it doesn’t become part of the behavior chain
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How do we build sourcing into our training?

  • Set up for success
    • Smaller and shorter puzzles easy for them to source
    • More complicated puzzles to get them back into the sourcing mindset
  • Increase the challenge level for the dogs skill level to keep the flow going
    • Too easy may be boring, too challenging may be too frustrating
  • Hide placement is important in training sessions
    • The training doesn’t come from the human, the training comes from the hide

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Where to find Stacy Barrett:  Website | Podcast | Facebook | Instagram

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