Patreon Q&A with Caisa Persson Werme

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla speaks with our patreon Caisa Persson Werme to answer questions about training and alerts.

Science Highlight: Back to the basics with conservation detection dogs: fundamentals for success

Questions asked: 

  1. During the search he might stop after a while and look at me. If I don’t acknowledge it in any way he takes off to search again with the same intensity as before. Is that the right approach on my part? Is he looking for guidance or just to check in/ see where I am? 
  2. When the search happens to be too long he comes back to me and sort of stares at me,or jumps at me and isn’t as excited if I tell him to keep searching for the toy. What should I do in those situations?
  3. How much help can/should I give in the sense of walking closer to the toy, calling him to get closer or to stay at a closer distance to the toy, say if he’s running in the opposite/wrong direction? But I feel like that might get him to think that I know where it is? 
  4. How do you know/determine how long a search will be?
  5. How do you determine which way the wind blows?
  6. How do I know if something is too much for him?
  7. I should probably start working with a long line, but I’m afraid that it might interfere with his searching. How do I best introduce it without causing frustration or a drop in motivation? 
  8. How do you know it’s time for a break? Is it on cue?
  9. I’m not confident that my rewards are good or exciting enough. Like he does seem to love it when I tell him to search and he has this look of anticipation when he hopes for it, but when he finds the toy he’s more of like “yeah here it is..”. We do play with it and he gets chicken or ham or similar and I mean we are improving when it comes to length of search and his enthusiasm is the same…but shouldn’t he seem more excited to find the toy?
  10. How do you go about placing the hide without making your trail/footsteps part of it?
  11. When training an alert, how much should I care about the position like stand, sit or down?
  12. How do I know if/when it’s the right time to start to ask for a propper alert?
  13. How do I go about incorporating the alert into the search?
  14. I have not yet trained Kenai on any blank searches, which maybe I should have started with much earlier? So how do i go about it now?
  15. Somewhat on the same topic, how would you handle the frustration that comes with ending a search session?
  16. Any advice for a current or future trainee? 

Links Mentioned in the Episode: 

Choice VS Structure

K9 Talking Scents Episode

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

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Transcript (AI-Generated)

Kayla Fratt 

Hello and welcome to the K9Conservationists podcast where we’re positively obsessed with conservation detection dogs. Join us every week to discuss detection, training, welfare, conservation, biology and everything in between. I’m Kayla Fratt, one of the cofounders of K9Conservationists, where we train dogs to do active data for land managers, researchers, agencies, and NGOs. Today, I have the joy of talking to our patron, Caisa, about all the questions she’s got as she is kind of raising her first hopeful conservation dog puppy. We’ve got a whole bunch of questions, we’re going to try to do them kind of rapid fire today.

Kayla Fratt 

And really excited to get to that, but first, we are going to go through our science pilot as normal. So today, we’re reading the article “Back to the basics with conservation detection dogs: fundamentals for success,” which was written by Karen DiMaggio, Barbara Davenport, and Louise Wilson. It was published in Wildlife Biology in 2019. The goal of this paper was to explore the basics of getting started using detection dogs in Ecological Research, specifically, and they went over the aspects of study design, dog selection, training samples, handlers, handlers, election, dog handler dynamics and field trials. A couple of major takeaways from this article include, quote, the potential associated with detection dog surveys can result in the misconception that there is an automatic link between a dog sense of smell and a groundbreaking meaningful survey results. Instead, an accurate detection rate can be directly linked to many caveats in dog handler, training and quote, so they go through for example, study design, you need to define the scope and the goals of the project first, then decide if detection dogs are actually the best method to achieve those goals. If detection arcs are then we need to find the best dog for the job. Don’t try to make the project fit around a particular dog, as problems may arise from that sort of approach. Projects planning must include maintenance, training and housing for the dog during the offseason, which should take into consideration a working dogs unique needs. And then when we get to dog selection based on your study design, you will need to consider several factors including scenting ability, physical attributes, energy levels, drives, personalities and social traits.

Kayla Fratt 

Things to consider when determining what type of physical traits would be ideal include vegetation, topography, and weather in the study area. You also may need to consider what target species there are and how many how that may be related to your dog’s abilities, such as the target underground aquatic injuries. If you need to be traveling internationally. For the study side, consider the logistics of transportation and how that relates to dog sides. Local breed restrictions break SF le, et cetera. You may also evaluate your dogs drive and performance in typical field situations to ensure that they’re happy and able to work in such conditions and do not have any behaviors that may be problematic, such as a fear response to the target, urine marketing on samples predatory behavior towards local wildlife, etc. Lastly, you need to determine what motivates your dogs such as food or toys and make sure they love their reward enough to work for for long days and challenging conditions. If long days and challenging conditions are part of your project. Then when we get to training samples, the authors stress the importance of proper sample storage and sample variety for both target and non target odors.

Kayla Fratt 

As far as handlers selection knows, the handler must have physical and mental endurance, be tuned into their dog’s behavior at all times and know how to effectively communicate with their dog and understand how environmental factors may affect odor dynamics. I had loads personality and must be well balanced with the dogs. “A poorly trained handler can ruin an experienced dog after.” Finally, when we get into field trials, the authors touched on the importance of testing the dog handler team. In the field prior to deployment, trials should be varied mimic real world situations the team will be working in and include both known and blind heights. The author’s note that using any equipment or gear that the team will utilize in the field is also important during trials so that the dogs can become accustomed to working with it. And thank you to our lovely volunteer Heidi Benson for putting this review together.

Kayla Fratt 

And without further ado, welcome to the podcast. Why don’t you start out with telling us a little bit about yourself and your dog what has gotten you interested in the world of conservation detection dogs.

Caisa Persson Werme 

So I have an academic background in biology and animal science, but have not yet started my master’s degree, which is going to be in applied ontology. I had actually applied for the master and gotten the application approved last summer that when the breeder that I had had my eyes on for several several years told me that I was on the list to get one of the puppies in the litter, I decided to instead dedicate a full year to your stressing the puppy. It was around that time when I first discovered the conservation detection dog field and I immediately thought that that was something that I wanted to do with my dog.

Caisa Persson Werme 

So I got Kenai, my now eight months old Portuguese Water Dog. And he’s a special guy for sure. very philosophical, if you can call a dog that is a pretty resilient guy who’s very even tempered and doesn’t get around not that easily. He can easily watch children play people running past cars, and bikers, etc, going by. And he just observe it all. The only things that really brings out that big excitement is in people he loves playing with his dog or friends into search. He really loves to search. And he’s getting better and better at it, which is so fun to see. And my hopes are that we will be able to get into this field eventually. Yeah, definitely.

Kayla Fratt 

And we’re super glad to have you here. And I know you have a ton of questions. You’ve got a young dog right now who’s been really brilliant in training, it’s been really fun to watch your videos. But yeah, why don’t we start just going through the questions you’ve gotten, as I said, we’ll try to, we’ll try to get through as many of them as we can.

Caisa Persson Werme 

One thing I have been struggling with a bit was that I could really predict how long the search would be. In the beginning, it would be like between one or two minutes if I stayed quite close to the toy. But he also says that extending the area and moving quite far away. But it will take even longer if I hold him. So that it’s one of the questions, I guess whether I should follow him or if I should stay put to make sort of adjust how long it will take to search, if that makes sense. Because if I follow him, then you will sort of continue on his way. But if I stay put, then he will eventually come back a bit.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah. So basically, we’re wondering, in a search environment, do we follow the dog? Or do we do we stand there? And particularly as a way to expand or contract your search area? Yeah, this is going to be the answer for all probably all of our questions, it’s gonna depend. I think for you, ideally, right now, what we need to work on is probably searching and more confined environments, where the environment is limiting the search area, rather than your body motion. So if we’re in like a fenced in park, or a backyard or something, that will help a lot, because then it’s not exactly how and where you’re moving, that’s limiting our search. Ultimately, eventually, you are going to be following him because you won’t know where that target is. And we will need to be introducing blind searches as part of practice at some point as well.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, that said, right now with a young puppy who’s really learning how to search, I would probably yes, I would be staying put, and using my body language and the natural radius that my dog has, as a way to help the dog search kind of in the quote unquote, correct area. But yeah, ultimately, you will be following the dog because you won’t know where things are. And you will still, you know, like, when I’m on the wind farm, if niffler takes off outside of the search area, I stop within the search area and use kind of that gravitational pole to bring him back into the search area. I don’t just follow my dogs off into the horizon. But there’s kind of there’s a balance there. As far as like, I keep my search strategy in mind along with what the dog is showing me. So for you right now, probably, yeah, just stay put where you are. And definitely, let’s try to think through some areas and some ways to set up searches where you can follow him within the area provided. And that won’t automatically take him further and further and further and further away from his target.

Caisa Persson Werme 

So then one question that we have talked a bit about, and is thing that during the search, you might stop after a while and look at me. And often, if I don’t acknowledge it in any way, he will just take off the search, again, with the same intensity and energy as before. But I don’t really know if that’s sort of the right approach. Or I didn’t know if that was the right approach. Now I have Yes, like, continued to move. The thing I was trying to do was to like, Hey, I don’t have a clue. You got this. It used up, I’m gonna stop. But now I have just kept moving. And I think that has helped a bit. And also we talked about the limitation of search area, as well.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, this is this is another good one with Barley when he’s showed this problem first, you know, three years ago, I would do the same thing. I would avoid eye contact, and I would just keep walking, and kind of use that as a way to inform him that he needed to keep working. Now, generally, if either by dogs checks in with me and kind of looks at me, I just say, hey, go search, you know, and remind them what they’re doing. Give them a little bit of feedback. I for me right now, Riku and my dogs, if they look at me, it’s not a problem. It’s not a problem unless it’s a problem. head right now, I don’t mind having to do that, particularly right now I’m in Guatemala, and we’re working on kind of a much larger search skill than Niffler, in particular has ever done before. So I expect to have to kind of reassure him that we’re still doing this. And then as far as the kind of like, ignoring that on when they check in with you, I think that advice often works. It’s just, it’s just, it’s so it depends. Because if that makes the dog feel disconnected from you, or confused, or maybe they’re looking at you, because they’ve caught target odor, and they don’t know how to source it, you kind of ignoring them or checking out could be absolutely the wrong move.

Kayla Fratt 

So it really depends. And, you know, I think we talked about, like, let’s try to figure out if that’s the sort of thing that tends to shop when he’s frustrated, or confused, or eight minutes into a search, and he’s starting to get tired. Okay, great, then, you know, in the moment, we can react one of these two ways. But then on our next search, we want to set the search up so that it doesn’t trigger that sort of behavior from. And the last thing I’ll say on this is, I don’t mind waiting the dog out. You know, a lot of times, what I do now is I’ll also kind of pause and look back at the dog and let them make a decision. What I’m looking for there, though, is that they’re not getting super stuck. If they stop and look at me, and then I stop and look at them. And then we’re just stuck in a staring contest for like two minutes. That’s not working for me. But a lot of times Barley will do this, like when he first if he’s kind of stuck sourcing odor, he’ll kind of like at some point, like pop up and look at me. And then just to like, wait, and I generally can kind of, I’ll take a step back or a step forward or wait or look at him or cue something. It’s all very, very, it depends. It’s all very, it feels like a dance as far as trying to figure out, what do you need in this moment for me to kind of help support you.

Kayla Fratt 

And I think the biggest, or not one of the biggest, but one of the things to be aware of, particularly with kind of waiting them out, is just be aware that of any behavior changes that you’re creating. And I think maybe the final maybe the final thing here, there’s a lot that can be said about this particular puzzle, once again, so much of it is it depends. But I would be really cautious of if the dog kind of like searches, searches, searches, stops, looks at you, I would not then say search and take a step towards your target, I would not then use that as a cue to make things easier or to handle them in a way that makes their target more obvious, because that is a really good way to teach a dog to just ask you for help in a way that is going to be long term detrimental towards their career. And that’s not something you’re it sounds like you’re doing. But it’s certainly something.

Caisa Persson Werme 

So the next question is, so when the search happens to be too long, like there’s a difference between just a look at me, and then we have the come back to me and stairs or even jumps up. But me leaves this excited. If I like tell him to keep searching, I can see the drop of energy in them. And I don’t really know how to handle those situations. They haven’t come up in a while now, though. But should I like do simpler queues? Take a break? And then tell them to search again? I have done that a few times. Like just have you touch poor? And it generally seems to give them some some of the energy back when I reduce the search. But should I like ignore that help? Help me I can find it as I do when I know that he has more energy and we’ll go on or should they take it as a playing search? And how could I execute that? And all you do is take the leash and continue to walk or should they just keep on doing these short minute breaks as a way to handle? Yeah, that’s a good question.

Kayla Fratt 

I guess that’s okay, I’ll see if I can kind of repeat them on my head and answer all of them in one go. I would go ahead and treat that as a mini break, I would offer water. What I’m doing right now as the dogs kind of come back to me in a surge, if they really like are actually coming back to me and not pausing. I have started saying Oh you want some water and then offer water to them. And they’re starting to learn that if they do want water, they can come all the way up to me and accept water from me and if they don’t want water then they can go back to searching.

Kayla Fratt 

So I’ve been kind of using like if they stop and look at me that’s my cue to off. or water, and then that’s their cue to make a decision. If I am seeing that they are really tired, they are really frustrated, then I am cueing them to lie down and I am sitting on the ground with them. And we are taking an enforced break. Part of that is due to the heat here in Guatemala. And then both of my dogs in particular, they won’t take a break, if I’m standing up, they will just kind of stand there and stare at me and asked to go back to work to like fully sit down on the ground with them.

Kayla Fratt 

But yeah, if you’re see if you’re able to see that difference, where it’s like, in one situation, the dog is a little bit confused, or just kind of checking in with you. And in the other situation, you’re seeing something that looks really different, that really does look like they’re tired and needs a break. I would give them that break. Yeah, absolutely. And then, you know, over time, what we’re going to be looking at is a how do we prevent that from happening ideally in like our shorter training sessions, because ideally, we’re gonna get to the point where the dog can search for at least 15, 20, maybe 30 minutes without a break. But we wouldn’t expect that right now with your age of dog with your experience, none of that. So the big thing is, if we’re seeing this come up kind of unexpectedly, and we’re not actively trying to work on endurance, stamina duration, then I would kind of take note of that, and try to make sure that in your next search, you’re setting it up to be a little bit easier, a little bit faster, and not set the dog up to need those brakes as much again, if that’s not something that you’re expecting. Does that make sense?

Caisa Persson Werme 

Yeah. So then the next question would be how much help can? Or should they give in the sense of walking closer to the toy calling him to get closer or stay at a closer distance to the toy? So if he is running, like the opposite, wrong direction completely? If that’s something I should do, but I also feel like that might get him to think that I know where it is. Or is that more that he will know that? Oh, it’s good to take her directions or will hidden? Yeah, I don’t know how much like, navigate, but maybe that was what we talked about at first, that it is okay to use your body to navigate?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, I think again, we’re going back to this idea of like, ideally, we’re setting up the environment to help the dogs understand when and where and how to search. Ideally, you’re also going into the search area with some amount of a plan. And you know that okay, we’re in this park, we’re going to walk the perimeter. And then we’re going to walk, you know, down the center, bisecting in relation to the wind, or something. And then having that search strategy will really help you kind of act as if you don’t know where it is, while still giving the dog some amount of direction. Because the problem comes if every time you’re giving the dog direction, every time you call him every time you stop, every time you circle every time you turn back, it’s because he’s just past something, then we can end up in a situation where we’ve got a dog who just looks to you all the time.

Kayla Fratt 

That said, exactly what you hinted out there. There also are times where we do want the dog to learn that, hey, sometimes when I call you back, and sometimes when I asked you to check somewhere, it’s because I know something. And you need to listen to me because I’m not always wrong. It’s a really fine balance. Most people go too far in the in the direction of, you know, they’re always slowing down, they stopped talking, they pull out their phone to get a video, whatever, as they get close to the toy or bit close to the target and the dog learns to look for that. But it’s also possible to be so paranoid about that, that we get a dog that is like so independent, that they’re not really taking any direction at all from the handler.

Kayla Fratt 

So it’s a balance, I think, generally speaking, so if you know, if you know that the dog just totally blew past their toy, or is going in totally the wrong direction. I sometimes will just call it a blank search. And sometimes what I’ll do is I’ll go with them for a long ways. And then I will circle back around and get us downwind to give the dog another chance at it. But I try to make sure that that takes me long enough and I’m doing in a big enough are going to do that enough times in a way that bring them back to the toy, that they’re not just learning or their target or whatever, that they’re not just learning to pay attention to that. So it’s it’s a little bit of both.

Caisa Persson Werme 

Yeah. And that’s the good thing about the brain because they are like, supposed to work pretty independently. So I mean, you know, the, the handler is the dummy thing that you have talked about. I have tried and I can like just go around in a circle and he will continue to search I can play airplane and he will just be I don’t see what you’re doing. I’m just focusing on finding these toys. So I think that it’s not as easy to like with the Border Collies, it’s yes, yeah. Border Collie, but he does keep check on me a bit at least. Yeah, exactly in tune the state might be.

Kayla Fratt 

Good. Yeah, brain differences. And again, just kind of being aware of like, I wouldn’t, you know, walk 50 meters with him. And then as soon as you get close to the toy, start slowing down or stop moving. But if you kind of aren’t moving the whole time, that’s okay. Or, again, if you’re kind of sticking to a search plan. And, you know, again, sometimes we double back, sometimes we ask the dog to check here. And sometimes that’s because there’s something unexpected shifted with the win, or, you know, we’ve had it happen where the dog isn’t recognizing a training aid, and we need to actually make sure that they get rewarded for noticing it before actually making their final alert. There are other things that could be going on, that require different approaches as well.

Caisa Persson Werme 

Yeah, exactly. Like, I think that’s the main thing, at least for me to start with, is mythologizing my searches and being more planning about it? Because right now, it’s, it has mostly been like, during our walks, and I have just found the toys at different places, and then kind of winging it, I guess. So. Yeah, I definitely need to learn to plan it better. And also, I guess, one question about that, like, how do you know or determine how long a search will be?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, it’s gonna be, it’s hard, it takes a lot of experience, I think, a lot of times, I use search area as a rough approximation of that. So if I am searching along a trail, or along a road, you know, approximately how far I am walking to replace that training aid from our starting point is approximately how I’m envisioning that search duration to take, you know, the search duration, maybe a little bit longer might be a lot longer than that. But that kind of keeps it proportional. So when one given day, I know that I’m going to walk 20 minutes down up down the road, and plays my sample on another day, I might walk four minutes down the road, and that will kind of allow me, then I know, I’m going to be walking down that road and the dog is searching off of the road or the trail as we go. And that’s pretty common for a lot of like predator predator surveys, in particular, you’re going to be walking on trails, and the dog is going to be checking kind of in the area plus or minus the trails, because a lot of predators use trails, and therefore put on trails. So that’s a good way to kind of default to it.

Kayla Fratt 

But then you always have the added complication of what’s happening with the weather and the terrain and the vegetation on a given day. So for example, here in Guatemala, we just had 24 hours straight of rain, if it’s actively raining, the scent is going to be much less available, so it’s going to be much harder. Yesterday, we were training in an area where the, let’s see, I’m gonna see if I can explain this. So imagine the wind is coming from left to right. And there was a wall on the left hand side of our search area, and we were searching kind of along that wall. So we were kind of searching in an area where the the air would be editing, and buttoning, depending on how the sun was hitting the side of that building, we could be getting all sorts of interesting kind of convection. What’s the word for this? Now I’m forgetting all my scent, scent terms. But we could basically be getting odor climbing up the side of that building.

Kayla Fratt 

So being aware of that, as a handler allows me to understand depending on what the wind and the sun and those things are doing in that exact moment, those heights are going to be behaving differently for me. I know we’re going to talk later on about some of the resources to help you learn that. But a lot of it also just comes from experience of watching your dog and really trying to think through what went wrong? Or why did it be why did the odor behave in a way that’s different? You know, it’s these things are not necessarily intuitive to us know, as blind humans. But as you get more and more experienced, you can think about those things and understand that if you’ve got a smaller target, on a really, really, really windy day, that might be really hard if you’ve got a really big target on a really not windy day. That can also be hard. You can have all sorts of different order dynamics, things that are going on that may make a search take longer than expected kind of just based on the search area.

Caisa Persson Werme 

A bit of a follow up of that I guess when we’re talking about wind? Like, how do you determine where the wind comes from, because I find it hard if it’s like, really windy or snowing or raining, so you can kind of see where it goes. But if it’s just like, a normal day, I find it a bit hard to. Yeah, notice where it’s from.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, a lot of times I will be, you know, you get better at it, the more you pay attention to it, that’s the first thing I’ll say. A lot of times, you can watch vegetation, so you can watch, you know, bushes, tops of trees, grass, those sorts of things and see what they’re doing. Generally, as well, if you can’t tell based on the trees, or the bushes or the grass, that means you’ve either got really light wind, or really variable wind, or sometimes both. So if you can’t tell, that probably means your point is very light. So you can also do things like, you know, pick up a little bit of sand and drop it and see as it drops where it goes, you can have a flag I, you know, like a little pin flag or a bit of flagging tape. See where that goes? Yeah, I think those are probably the best methods. I don’t think generally speaking, unless you’re, for some reason, really concerned about wind speed as it relates to a study goal or a question you have, generally, you probably don’t need to go higher tech than that.

Caisa Persson Werme 

So then how do I know if something is just too much for him? Right now, most of his searches are. Yeah, I wrote one to two minutes. But that’s like a month ago. And now it’s seems like he’s giving up a bit after like, four, six minutes that I can see a drop in energy withheld? Oh, no, it’s, it’s like, too, too much. Or if I should, like, continue, even though I see that the energy might be a bit gone.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, at his age, I would be focusing on making sure that he loves the game, that he’s getting success. And he’s very rarely getting tired or frustrated and training. You can always add duration and difficulty later on. We want things to be at a good challenge level where it’s challenging enough to be engaging. And it’s challenging enough that we don’t plateau. But there’s so much utility and so much value in particularly for our young dogs, but even for really experienced dogs, and occasionally just doing really fun, really easy searches. So I think, again, at his age right now, most things should be easy and fun.

Kayla Fratt 

And I know you said you know, right up top, he actually enjoyed it a little bit more when things were a little bit more challenging. So I’m not saying to make it so easy that it’s boring. But and then as far as how to tell in the moment, you know, it’s looking at the behavior. So if you are getting those times where he’s coming back, and he’s checking in with you, he’s jumping on you, he’s quitting searching, he’s starting to critter, he’s starting to mark, he’s starting to eat grass, you know, whatever it is that he starts doing when he’s not able to focus as much that tells us and you know, that then you know, what we do in that precise moment is going to vary with a more experienced older dog, I might kind of call them back in, refocus them, and then cue them to search again. But with a younger dog, I’m more likely to kind of call it a blank, take them back, tell them how lovely they are, play some games with them, then maybe go out and do a super easy search like the next day.

Kayla Fratt 

But you know, it kind of depends a little bit again, with like a more experienced dog, I might insist a little bit that they do need to work. I think they need to get back into focusing. Like, for example, yesterday niffler got very distracted by some crashing waves near our search area, just during the training run. And he is one of those border collies who loves chasing moving water. And I did kind of, you know, full on be like, no niffler Sure. You know, when he was younger, I probably would have instead had to say, okay, he can’t go find the sample that I placed that is too near the water. This is too hard for him, it’s not going to be fun. It’s going to squash his motivation. We’re going to turn around now, and we’re going to go go back and call this a blank search. So it really depends, but again, at his age with these younger dogs, the most important thing is that they love the job. So it should be more fun than anything else.

Caisa Persson Werme 

So then another question is that maybe I should probably start working with a long line on him. But I’m also a bit afraid that it might somehow interfere with his search style. Like how do I best introduce it without causing frustration or like a drop in motivation. And what I mean with infield search style is that he is kinda like, he liked the range, and he runs really fast, really high in the G. All over the place, basically. So I’m a bit afraid that the long line might somehow interfere with that, yeah,

Kayla Fratt 

I would probably start out with having him dragging along line or having a long line that’s long enough that he can reach most of his search area from it. So if you’re kind of searching in a backyard, and you’ve got a 10 meter long line, that long line will probably allow him to reach most of the search area to get him used to kind of dragging it having it on. And occasionally hitting the end of it. But I would, you know, honestly, I have more or less introduced that several months into training by just putting it on and using that as a way to start teaching transects I have not seen a ton of frustration from my dogs so far with adding that. And it is it’s a valuable skill for them to be able to search with a long line on I will say like most of the time my dog search without long lines, but it is nice to have them capable of searching with a long line on.

Caisa Persson Werme 

They had a question like, When should I start training from alert so I started him when I calm as neutral or older. At the same time, as I did that, I started praying for the Lord, but maybe other people wonder when they should start to train for an alert really introduced the older

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, also pretty much taught the alert and the target odor at the same time. I generally like having my dogs learn a lot of their search skills using a primary reinforcer. So their toy, or food for the first couple of weeks to couple months, kind of depending on the age and the progression plan for the dog. I like to kind of be able to see that they understand the game that they’re enthusiastic about the game and that they have some skills with, you know, finding hot dogs or salami or their favorite toy. Before I really bother going ahead and teaching a target odor. It’s kind of personal preference, though I know other people who are much more gung ho about teaching target odors much earlier on. I personally don’t care too much which way my students go, I think the important thing is picking a strategy and kind of sticking to it and not swapping strategies around every couple weeks. Because you’re you listen to a new podcast, which I know I’ve been guilty of, it’s very easy to do.

Kayla Fratt 

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Kayla Fratt 

And then, as far as teaching the alert, I think it’s useful to start thinking about the components of your alert early on. So I was just talking to another patron Taylor about this with her dog, she’s really struggling with building duration on her alert. So I suggested that they go back and work on duration in other skills. So maybe give the alert a break, but go back and like let’s work on six days, let’s work on downstairs, can your dog do a chin rest in your hand for 10 seconds. And then you can kind of build up those concepts and build up those skills outside of an alert before you start trying to work on this really important behavior to you.

Kayla Fratt 

I think I taught Niffler an alert when he was about six months old, so about four months into his his training, but I also just don’t really I didn’t bother when he was a baby. His first four months of training were all just him searching for food and all him learning to love the game and learning to read odor currents and, you know, building a little bit of stamina and all that sort of stuff. And I just wasn’t worried about his alert. So yeah, there’s a lot of right ways to do this.

Caisa Persson Werme 

So how do you know that it’s time for a break? I guess like seeing the energy drop in the dogs as we talked about, but like how do you decide that and how does it work? Is there like an EQ for the dogs do they get a reward? If you haven’t found anything like before the break is a term like sort of applying search and then often to break it’s a news so starting in the field, I guess when you’re working long hours and stuff,

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, again, in training for you at this stage and with your dog’s age, we’re hopefully not getting to the point where they’re on pains breaks. I know I’ve already said that. But I just have to say it again. For my dogs in the field, now we take breaks all the time, when they haven’t just found something. Again, we take these micro breaks, where if they kind of come back and they look at me, or I noticed that their tongue is really longing and they’re starting to look hot, I’ll call them over, give them some water, kind of let them drink and pant, until they’re kind of ready to searching in most of my dogs will tell me.

Kayla Fratt 

And then less frequently, I will also kind of enforce breaks. And those are the breaks where, you know, I talked to my field Tech, I talked to the project partners here in Guatemala, we often have like six or seven people out in our search team at the same time. So I’ll kind of call out to everyone and say, hey, the dog needs a break, we’re all going to sit down, we’re all going to drink some water. And we’re going to like fully stop moving and wait for the dog’s body language and panting panting, to tell us that they’re ready to go back to work. And those I will actually enforce a little bit more, which is particularly important for Barley. But I will actually tell him to lie down, I will sit on the ground with him, I will spray water on his belly spray water on his ears, give him as much water as he wants. And I will not let him go back to work and let him start to search again, until I’m seeing again, in his rate of panting and his tongue size in particular, that he is ready to go back to work.

Kayla Fratt 

So it’s a huge part of it. For me, it’s just kind of keeping an eye on the dog’s enthusiasm and heat levels, and tiredness levels. And, you know, deciding whether you just need a microbiome, where it’s just a little bit of water, and you know, a two minute pause, or more of this sort of thing where you’re like calling out to the whole crew, and you’re like, Hey, guys, we’re all sitting down, we’re all taking a break. And again, as I said earlier, particularly for Barley, that means that I have to sit down as well, which was funny the first couple times that I did it because the first time one of our project partners thought that I had hurt myself, or that I was really tired.

Kayla Fratt 

And I was like, Oh no, I just have to sit down to make sure that Barley will also stay put, because if I just stand there, while I have the train back on, he will then just kind of like stare at me. And like take a couple steps away, and then like turn back and look at me and just like keep asking for permission to go search again. But if I kind of fully sit down, then he understands that no, we’re in break land.

Caisa Persson Werme 

Yeah, I feel like that might be the case with Kenai as well in the future, because see, he wants to search he wants to keep searching. And when I put the toys away, and it’s done with a search, he is not happy about that. He will continue to stare he will continue to beg for it. Yeah. So I’m not really confident that my words are good or like, exciting enough for him. Like you don’t seem to love it when I tell him to search and he has this look of anticipation when he hopes for it and wants to start searching it sometimes when you find the toy is more of like, yeah, here are this Oh, that. I mean, we do play with it and he gets chicken or ham or other like high value treats. Yes, we’re also improving when it comes to length of search and use it users miss the same. So it hasn’t like come down, gotten down anything. But shouldn’t like he seemed more excited to find a toy that has been searching for. Here’s like sort of playing with play motivated, but not going nuts about it. And it’s kind of the same with foods, I don’t really notice it, how to do it better.

Kayla Fratt 

Fundamentally, if I’m seeing the focus and enthusiasm that I want in the search consistently, it’s not a problem. Some dogs are going to scream, bark, and spin in circles or stop breathing and stare at with you with pupils the size of dinner plates over their toys, and other dogs are going to search very well for the love of the search for the enthusiasm that you give them on you know I think I’m not saying we’re asking dogs to work for free in any way shape or form. But some dogs really love the search and finding the toy is just kind of like a nice bonus. I was searching because I wanted to find a thing, but really I just liked searching and that’s not uncommon, particularly with some breeds.

Kayla Fratt 

So I if you’re continuing to see the focus and the dedication and the enthusiasm, then you want I wouldn’t worry too much about your reinforcers you know, you can always, always have more fun with reinforcers I was just on clean run today shopping for some new reinforcers for the boys because I realized that all four of our squeaky balls on ropes no longer squeak. So it’s time to order some new squeaky balls, because Barley, in particular, really enjoys the squeaky balls. And I’m going to experiment with a couple furry tug toy things with like rabbit fur or sheepskin for Niffler because I suspect he’s going to really like that.

Kayla Fratt 

And I’ve never gotten those toys before because for barley, quite honestly, if I had a sock and my training bot bag, or a pine cone, or a glove or like anything, he would search just as happily with that as his reward is anything else. Like I just said he really likes the squeaky toys, but you know, he barley doesn’t care as long as it’s being thrown. Versus niffler is a little bit pickier, some kind of excited to experiment a little bit. So I think there’s nothing wrong with experimenting and kind of seeing, you know, ooh, do they like some of those agility toys that have the pouches that you can hide food inside, so you can like throw it and there’s rabbit fur involved, and there’s fruit on the inside or like, count, maybe, maybe they maybe he just really likes searching. And again, as long as you’re seeing that enthusiasm and that focus, I wouldn’t worry too too much about it.

Caisa Persson Werme 

I do think that he finds the search itself, rewarding, because like I said in the beginning that he broke this day to start searching. Now he does not. But he has a beautiful state and he can stay for like, at least a minute while I go around placing the hides are going really far from him. People are walking by cyclists are walking by. And he stays and waits. And when they come back, his eyes are like paying him he just wants to run away get the toy as soon as possible. Or like started the search you were in fantasy is enthusiasm, at least whether it’s for the search or if it’s for the toy.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Caisa Persson Werme 

How do you go about placing the height without making your trail or footsteps part of it. Because sometimes I feel like keen on my follow my trail as a way to get to older more quickly. I’m not entirely sure. And that is what’s happening. But it has been like maybe two or three times that when we have been working on small, the dirt road and I have thrown the toy. As far as I can decide, when Kenya is looking, then we’ll continue to work like a few meters and then gone off the road and then changed direction, direction towards the point again, then told him to search. And then he will sort of run back to the road and then breaching out towards the sides. So then that makes me think that maybe it’s following my trail a bit, at least when we have been walking on the road.

Kayla Fratt 

I think there’s a couple different things that could be going on there. And overall, I actually think I’d be a little cautious of mixing searches and walks like that too, too much. I like it to be really clear for my dogs when they’re working and when they’re not. Because especially as he matures, if he gets really obsessed with this game, you don’t want him to never be able to go on a walk without searching. Yeah, and then on the flip side, if you’re ever kind of struggling with motivation, you don’t want a dog who kind of sometimes you’re telling them to search and sometimes you’re telling them to walk in kind of the same situation. So they might default to walking instead of searching. So I would actually be pretty cautious with that setup in general.

Kayla Fratt 

Anyway, um, I would probably instead really focus on like, we’re walking when we’re walking, we’re training when we’re training, those are separate things, because you can end up with kind of problems either end there. Then, as far as actually hiding things, you’ve got a couple different methods. I have, you know, just take in whatever it is, you know, if the dog is inside the house or inside the crate inside the car or whatever, I can take their target and I can just hook it into long grass, just throw it out there. So there is no trail for them to follow. That works well. I have gotten on a bike and a bike down a trail and dropped it somewhere along the way as I’m biking. I’ve dropped my training samples out of a car as I’m driving and then parked then double the back. And if I’m searching in a park or backyard or some other kind of indoor area, I will also just kind of like walk around and touch a bunch of stuff. I I will pick things up, I will put them back down, I will walk in circles, I will kind of make sure that my trail and my odor is kind of everywhere. So you’ve got a bunch of different options there. But I think the big thing, as far as what you’ve described there is I would actually probably try to avoid that specific training situation where you’re on a walk, you’re putting something out there on the walk, and then you’re telling them to search when previously you were just on a walk, we want the dog to understand the difference between work and relaxation.

Caisa Persson Werme 

So when training an alert, how much should I care about the position, they’re, like Stan said, are down. So far, I mostly taught him to just stare at the gong. And when I let him choose, push it in position, it will mostly be upstand. But then he tends to get a bit too close to the target sometimes, especially when I tried to make him hold dollar for like, just a second longer or because he’s like, but it’s here easier, trying to pinpoint it even more, while I want him to keep the distance a bit. But when he when I get him to sit further say it is less likely to happen. I don’t know how much I should be like nagging about position, or if I should just be like, keep this distance, stare at the toy.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, I think my mind on this has changed relatively recently. I think within reason, it’s okay to kind of look at what the dog is naturally offering you. But then I think relatively early in training, it’s important to pick something and stick to it and train that the you know, the dog can tell you what’s easy for them, or what’s natural for them to some degree. But I think so often we go way too far down that road. Now we’re like, I’ve had so many students, or so many patrons, who have said, you know, like, Oh, my dog prefers to stand and then look back at me or they like to nose target, and then look back at me or, you know, they spin in the circle three times. And then like yesterday, they sat and today they lay down and the dog can just pick whatever it is that they want, I want you to be able to define what your alert is, I want it to be consistent.

Kayla Fratt 

Personally, for me, I really prefer a sit or a down because that’s obvious. If you kind of think long term about what your deployment may look like, you don’t want to be questioning whether your dog is tangled in some vines out off trail, or has a thorn in their paw or is just pausing and looking at you, or whether they’re actually making an alert. You don’t ever want to have to ask that question. And obviously, you know, like, still it might happen. But we don’t want that to be something that’s kind of inherently in your alert, which is why I personally don’t like generally, I don’t like stand alerts, I don’t like look back alerts. You know, if it is going to be a stand, stare freeze sort of thing, I want that to be pretty intensely trained as well.

Kayla Fratt 

So personally, I prefer sits or downs, because that’s something that when my dog is 50 meters away from me in underbrush, I can tell when they’re doing it anyway. And that’s really important for me, and I think, again, like don’t go too far in this direction of waiting for the dog to tell you and letting the dog decide. That’s actually not more fair to the dog, it’s unclear. And that can cause all sorts of frustration and all sorts of issues with your alert training down the line. So I would pick what you want. And as long as that’s not something that’s crazy difficult for your dog or potentially problematic for your target or your application. I would then just train that, you know, if you think about what search and rescue handlers trained for their dogs, their training, you know, barks find refunds, all sorts of stuff, they trained, really complicated alerts, if they can do that with their dog a week and train a down stay or a sit, stay. And I would just kind of figure out what you want between a couple of the easiest and clearest options and then be consistent about that.

Caisa Persson Werme 

Yeah. Yesterday before the podcast, I did train some of them on the alert. And he did actually offer more like a Satan stare there today and I was so happy about that. I was like, yes, it’s so much easier if you also think this is a good idea. Yeah, exactly. So right now we are doing very, very easy and short searches with the conch to build enthusiasm and confidence for the new sound. I am not yet incorporated the alert. Because I am afraid that it will kill a bit of the joy If I get too nitty gritty about the too soon, some training like the alert, and I’m training the search separately, but I do try to like Mark before his nose touches the cone and not have him grab it. But how would I know if and when it’s the right time to start to ask for more proper alert in the search?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, this is a good one, I would like to see an alert behavior that I’m very happy with. outside of the context of the search first, I also like to see a search behavior that I’m very happy with outside of the context of the alert. And then I start thinking about bringing those two things together in a situation where the search can be much simpler, and much lower stakes. And then we can increase, we can keep the criteria of the alert, and then gradually increase both criteria together.

Kayla Fratt 

So for example, your dog is currently comfortably searching, you know, for five minutes in a lightly wooded area in a park, and looks really good there and is also able to hold their alert for 30 seconds, when you’re 20 meters away in alert training, or, you know, 10 meters away, it doesn’t have to be crazy, then we can start thinking about okay, great. Now we’re going to link these two things. And we’re going to have the dog do a one minute search inside inside the house or in our backyard, it’s going to be super duper easy. And I am going to be within a couple of meters of them. And the alert only is going to have to like their chest is just going to have to hit the ground, if we’re talking about a down or the bomb has to hit the ground to hit the ground. If we’re talking about to sit, then we click and we reward.

Kayla Fratt 

So I like the criteria for each individual skill to be really good. And then we bring that criteria down quite a bit when we’re merging them. And then we bring and then we work on building them back up and linking them together, I will say generally, once I start introducing the alert to a search context, and the dog is actually searching an air scenting for, you know, one minute or so at a time and then alerting at that point, I try to only set up searches that are easy enough that I expect the dog to be able to alert. And I try to from that point over expect an alert. So once you once I personally have introduced that alert into the search, then from there, I want that alert to be present. So you know I reasonable people can disagree, I’m sure there are cases in which I’ve broken that rule myself. But that’s kind of generally what I’m looking for. So and generally, what we see as well is pretty quickly, if they have both of those baseline skills pretty solid before we start linking them, we’re able to build them back up to where we were as far as search difficulty relatively quickly as well.

Caisa Persson Werme 

So then I guess the next question would be, how do I go about incorporating dollars into the search? Is it something that you see happen more naturally? Or do you have to like, Oh, you found it? No, you have to see it in the network.

Kayla Fratt 

I don’t expect it to show up naturally, it may but I don’t expect it to, I will intentionally set up a very easy search, and then cue the alert. So that’s part of the reason I like sit or down alerts as well, because that’s something that I can verbally cue. So when I see them, you know, make that recognition, do their, you know their little freeze or that other like kind of final change of behavior that they naturally exhibit, I will then cue the alert. And then I will record. And I expect to potentially need to queue that alert, you know, for a week or two as we’re going forward.

Kayla Fratt 

But the big thing is we’re scaling down that search area and search difficulty. And then we’re queueing out alert, expecting that alert. And very quickly they start learning that Okay, so now the game is I do the search, I find the thing, I get queued for the alert, I do the alert, I get my toy or my food or whatever. And then we just start feeding that cue out. But I basically keep that cue involved until the dog is almost starting to alert before I can queue. I try not to get myself into this trap where I start trying to feed the queue too early. And then the dog is kind of getting to source and then waiting, waiting, waiting and then alerting. So I know that’s not superduper well defined, but it’s kind of a lot of watching the dog and waiting to see what they’re telling you as far as how their understanding is going. And if you wait for like two seconds, and the dog has not yet alerted, then I would cue that alert and kind of keep going from there. Does that make sense?

Caisa Persson Werme 

Yes, absolutely. Before we talked about the A look and stare thing and that they should keep the searches shorter. We were in Vermont where we had a lot of forests so we could expand the area and play around a bit woods here if you did an 11 minute search during our stay at my family’s place. But yeah, I do think I pushed too far on that I do see a difference in him of the dose more lengthy searches. Like he does not look at me as much anymore. I have not gotten any more of the jumping up at me or coming back and seeming like I’m done with searching. It seems more like, yeah, he might drop a bit in energy, but he will keep searching, he will come back and jump up and the frustrated about it and hear when you start to get tired. And it feels also like you can maintain the energy and enthusiasm for a longer period of time before. This is probably not the question, but Maura, I think it’s the some that it might have done something good, even though I did push a bit too much.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, I think both things can be true, you know, challenge is not inherently bad. And, you know, I think that’s, that’s really important to remember. It sounds like yes, you pushed hard, but he was still having fun, he wasn’t quitting. And then you saw good results on the next search. So I think that tells us that that’s okay. The thing that we really want to avoid with challenge is to constantly make things harder, and push so much that we’re getting failure. So it’s okay to push it, we want to push we need to push, we need to challenge our dogs, we need to keep them engaged, we need to make sure that they’re actually you know, getting a challenge out of this and that they’re actually learning that our training is actually progressing. It’s just also really important that they’re having fun. And I don’t think difficulty and fun are not opposites. But we need to find the sweet spot where those things combined. Yeah.

Caisa Persson Werme 

The difference I see now it’s more that no one on back in Uppsala city in Sweden, we don’t have, we have gone back to how it was before we was environment. So I guess that’s plays a part that now they are like at max, five or six minutes instead of that mostly around like three and four minutes. So now he knows that oh, it can be hard on this?

Kayla Fratt 

Yes. Yeah, definitely. And there’s always ways to make smaller search areas harder as well, which we won’t open that can of worms right now. But there are always ways to make small things hard as well. So we don’t have to feel limited by having a small search area.

Caisa Persson Werme 

I have not yet trained him on any blank searches, which I probably should have started with much earlier. So that is a question like how do I go about it now? How do I get used to it without causing frustration or dropping motivation? And how do I decide when to call it if he like, just wants to continue with searching? Because I feel like at this point, he will search until this energy is gone. So say if I are in Yoast or we are in just one room, how much time should I give him? Or like, how many search lapses of the room should I give before I’m like, Okay, now we’re done?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, I would come up with you what your search strategy is, you know, how many times are you going around the room? How many transects Are you going to make? How are you how are you going to search the area. And then when you have completed that, when he has not shown any changes of behavior, because there is nothing to find, then you call him away. And you can choose to reward or not, I do choose to reward at the end of blank searches.

Kayla Fratt 

But my reward is basically for Barley, I basically kind of put the toy in his mouth and let him carry it home. And that for him is like a pretty solid reward. For Niffler, he gets a couple tiny tosses. Because for him just getting the ball to possess it is not enough of a reward. But I don’t do those like huge, huge flinging tosses of the ball for him if he just kind of blank search. So yeah, it’s based on what your search plan and what your search strategy was. Then your other question of okay, so how do we decide if it’s a blank search? If we know that there actually was target odor that we placed out in the environment, but they’re not finding it? And fundamentally, in a lot of ways, the answer is the same. We come up with our search strategy beforehand. We execute that search strategy. And then if we don’t see a change of behavior from the dog, if the dog does not actually find your target odor, then then I would again just treat it as a blank search.

Kayla Fratt 

And then it’s always interesting to try to figure out what happens, though, did you miss plan your search strategy, so you actually brought the dog upwind of their target odor? Was there something weird happening with the wind or the vegetation that could have been trapping the odor or sending the odor straight up into the stratosphere, so the dog just wasn’t going to be able to run, run into it unless they literally tripped on this, the the target was all sorts of different things that can go kind of quote unquote, go wrong. But those blank searches can also be really useful for us as a way to learn how to read odor dynamics, and how to get more familiar with that.

Kayla Fratt 

But yeah, I think fundamentally come up with what your search strategy is, and stick to your search strategy. And what the dog is showing you more than sticking to the idea of you need to find it, particularly when we’re training alone. And particularly when we’re never doing blind searches. Do your best to search and train as if you don’t know where it is, which means coming up with a good plan beforehand. And again, our research plans like this, I’m not talking about something where you have to like diagram your area and like, figure out like, Okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna walk 23.2 meters in this direction, that should take me 15 seconds. And then I’m going to make a 90 degree right hand, I’m not talking about that I’m saying, you know, I’m going to stand in the middle of the room and let the dog free search, I’m going to watch to make sure that he gets his nose, on or in most of the corners and anywhere that he has missed, I will direct him to. And then I’m going to call them, or I’m going to walk up cold transects, I’m going to walk the perimeter or you know, I’m going to walk this, walk down this road until my watch says X time and then I’m going to call the dog off, you know, it doesn’t have to be crazy.

Kayla Fratt 

But we do have to have a little bit of a plan. And then, you know, based on what the dogs shows us. The last thing I’ll say is there may be cases in which say, say you’ve placed target odor out, you’ve gone, you’re in the middle of your search strategy. And the dog actually has caught target odor, but he’s struggling to resolve it is struggling to source it. Those are situations where I would try not to end up with that be a blank search, at least at this point. That’s where then it again, is your job to kind of step in as the handler and support the dog while they’re sourcing. So we can implement strategies like spiraling out from the change of behavior spiraling in from the change of behavior transecting or greeting upwind, you know, and again, acting as if we don’t know where it is, but strategies that you would actually use in real life. If you saw that your dog seems to have caught target odor, and really seems to know that there’s something there but they can’t figure it out. We can support that in given strategies that you then could also use on a blank search. The key is to just make sure you’re using something that would be replicable, replicable and usable later on in like a reliable aberrational search, if you don’t know where it is,

Caisa Persson Werme 

so on the same topic of like, when to end the search, right now we have maybe not a problem, but I can see intel that he’s frustrated when it comes to ending search. He’s not like happy about it. Most of the time, I’ll let him keep the toy. Because for him, it’s like hard that now I’m taking the toy away. Now we’re ending the search. If he keeps calling more, oh, I can still have that one. But he’s still a bit frustrated that the searches ended and he’s so high in energy from it for like, aroused from it. So it’s easy to get the jumping and a bit of nipping because he wants to keep going and does not want it to end. I’m not quite sure how to handle the left.

Kayla Fratt 

What are you currently doing kind of next thing after you end a search?

Caisa Persson Werme 

I guess that’s the problem that sometimes depends. But most of the time I let him keep the toy or at least now I let him keep the toy because that makes it easier for him to like go back into home mode if he can carry the toy. Before I took it away and was like yeah, no, we’re done. And that was mostly when I would see the jumping and leaping and then I’ve also tried like to end it was tossing some treats so you will get more called search I guess. But he will just search for them and then he will be like hey bud. The thing we were doing before why?

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, I would go ahead and listen to as you and I are recording right now on February 12, Sara Stremming’s most recent podcast episode on choice and structure. Because this is kind of a situation where I think we’ve got a couple different things going on. So I think, okay, if the solution of giving him his toy and letting him possess the toy at the end of the search and letting him carry that back to the car, works, that great, we’ve got a strategy. I generally for Niffler, he doesn’t really care about possessing the toy and bringing it back. So he gets to play with his ball a little bit, we go back to the car the whole way, I’m telling him what a good a brilliant, smart boy, he is in touch, you know, scratching his booty and, you know, doing whatever it is that makes him feel happy and fulfilled.

Kayla Fratt 

And then we generally go back and I will try to put them down in their crates are in their beds, with some water and a nice chew or a little snack. And really just kind of get like a good post run routine going. As far as kind of the nipping and the frustration stuff goes, that might be something where again, we need to, I would go ahead and listen to that choice and structure episode from Sarah Stremming and think about, okay, so what do we need to do in those situations to remove his freedom, because he is showing you that he is not capable of making an appropriate choice in that moment, which means we need to make choices for him. And that might be leashing him that might be, you know, gently, but firmly telling him off, telling him, you know, jumping on me and pulling up my clothes and ripping my jacket is not appropriate and not acceptable.

Kayla Fratt 

And then also, you know, taking taking note on Okay, was the search really long with nothing for him to find? Was it really short? And he found something and he’s just still has a ton of energy? Do we need to occasionally do two searches in a row? Do we need to go back and you know, we’ve searched up and you know, close to mealtime so we can go back, we can cool the dog down so that they’re ready to eat again, and then feed them dinner, you know, what do we need to do to structure that? So I would also get really curious about like, when this problem is more consistent, or shows up more and when it doesn’t. And that might give us some clues as far as what we need to do.

Caisa Persson Werme 

Yeah, that makes sense.

Kayla Fratt 

And I do think we’re gonna have to wrap up here. So maybe one last question that you really want to go into. That’s great. But otherwise, we’re, we gotta go.

Caisa Persson Werme 

Yeah. So we’re left but the, like, any advice that you might have for current or future training?

Kayla Fratt 

I think, stay curious. Trust the process that is given to you by your instructor. And I think there was actually a really, a really good episode from canines talking sense that I was just listening to with Mary Kabak. I don’t know how to pronounce her last name. But that really talks about, you know, I think in a lot of cases, it’s better to stick with a medium good training plan and training mentor, than to constantly switch and constantly cost about four new solutions, a new plan, the best protocol. And I think that’s one of the things that the internet has really done for us. And I’m not saying that just because I don’t want you to leave me for a new mentor, you’re allowed to do that.

Kayla Fratt 

But I think be really cautious of, you know, balancing that curiosity and learning as much as you can from a lot of different people with also then just don’t change your planning training plan. Every week, I’ve definitely talked to a lot of people who are at kind of your level of learning who have had 10 different instructors, they’ve been to 15 different seminars. And it’s like, every time I talk to them, they’re retraining their alerts, because of the most recent webinar they went to that has them convinced that now they need to do this type of alert, instead of that type of alert, or they’re like retraining their target odor, or whatever. And I think that can be potentially really confusing and really frustrating.

Kayla Fratt 

And also, if you’re kind of constantly going back to Step three, every time you go to a new webinar or a new seminar, then it’s going to be really hard to get to step 10. In your career. So it’s a balance. It’s a you know, like, as you’ve heard, I’m constantly listening to things and constantly suggesting new podcasts, I’m constantly going out. But that doesn’t mean that every single time I listen to a podcast, I’m then going out and changing my approach with my dogs. I may incorporate it as I go forward. I take bits and pieces I may consider it I may try it out with a different with a student next time, but it’s really important to be fair to our dogs as far as kind of consistency and again, sticking with a plan that you’re partway down. That is pretty good. is bad. They’re then kind of constantly trying to get a 2% improvement in your plan with a new idea every week. Yeah. All right.

Kayla Fratt 

Well, we’ve gone a little bit long, so but I know thank you so much for having so many good questions. I think people are gonna find this really helpful. And there’s a lot of good stuff in here for people at various stages of their detection journey. So thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you for being a patron. If you are interested in getting to do an episode like this for yourself, consider joining Patreon. This is not a guaranteed benefit. But if you reach out to me and ask and have some good questions, we will we’ll we’ll consider it and for everyone at home. Definitely thank you so much. And you know, I hope you’re feeling inspired to get outside and be a canine conservationist in whatever way suits your passions and your skill set. You can sign up for canine conservationist handler course or Patreon of both at k9conservationists.org under the Learn tab, you can buy merch, stickers, mugs, bento boxes, all that sort of stuff also on our website, k9conservationists.org will talk to you next week. Bye!