Lengthy Searches with Dr. Nathan Hall

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla Fratt speaks with Dr. Nathaniel Hall to talk about lengthy searches for conservation dogs.

Discussed in this Podcast:

  • How does a dog’s sensitivity to scent affect their work?
    • All sensory systems are learned behaviors, so there will be genetic differences and learning history differences. Because of this, what one dog smells will not be the exact same as what another dog smells.
    • It depends on the concentration of the odor on how sensitive your dog will be to the odor. Their threshold of detection of a certain scent will increase if the concentration is reduced over time.
  • Motivation for long searches?
    • Performance is strongly dependent on the frequency in which targets appear
    • Reinforcing “all clear” signals can help with motivation in the event that there aren’t going to be a lot of targets for them to find.
    • It is important to not over-reward for “all clear” because then “all clear” can start to become more rewarding than finding the scent.
    • Make your “all clear” as equal effort as an alert response
    • If your dog is pre-prepared for not finding targets over a long period of time, it can help avoid an extinction burst and frustration 

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

The Canid Genome – 2012 Paper

Hall, Smith, and Wynne 2016

Where to find Dr. Hall:
Canine Olfaction Lab | Facebook

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