Detection Trainers Course
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- This class will teach handlers how to imprint a dog from the very beginning stages of detection work and take the dog through certification-ready proficiency on one odor. This process encompasses imprinting target odor, ignoring distractor odors, completing a comprehensive search pattern, performing a trained final response, and everything in between!
Students will also learn how to add additional odors to their dogs upon completion of the course.
- In addition to the adult dog, each student will be assigned a young puppy to learn our puppy imprinting system. They will teach the puppy to recognize one target odor, ignore many distractor odors such as food and toys, and perform a consistent search pattern.
- Students will also each be assigned a chicken to improve their timing and mechanical skills. Students will work on shaping chickens in color and shape discrimination along with agility behaviors. Chickens make excellent training models for shaping behaviors due to their speed and the fact that they cannot be trained with force or aversive methods. The concept of color and shape discrimination with a chicken is very much the same as the concept of odor detection with a dog. There will be a small competition with the chickens at the end of each week.
This class will include 3 lectures and 160 hours of fieldwork applying the concepts of odor detection under my direct instruction.
Tuition for this course is $4000 plus tax, with a $500 deposit required to hold your spot. Class size is limited to 10 students. Payment must be made in full by June 1, 2019. You may pay using PayPal or Credit Card through the PayPal link below. Enrollment is not complete until both the enrollment form and deposit payment have been submitted.
Payments are non-refundable; if you cannot make it to the class you have paid for, please contact us and we can apply your payment to another class of your choice.
Class fees include all necessary course materials; housing and food is NOT included, but we will assist in finding the most affordable housing arrangements in the area.
For those students bringing their own dog, you may board your dog with us for a discounted rate of $12 per day. Please let us know in the comments section below if you will be boarding a dog with us.
Class will be Monday-Friday, from 9AM-5PM.
Certificates will be awarded upon completion of the course.
Canine Selection Criteria
It has been my experience that most dogs that are used for detection work are lacking in one or more areas. Listed here is the type of testing that a dog must pass in order for me to consider it acceptable for detection work. You need to make absolutely sure your dog has the proper nerves, stability, and temperament, as well as adequate toy drive, food drive, and hunt drive to keep up with the other dogs in class.
Please keep in mind that if you bring a sub par dog to this class, you will not progress at the same rate as the handlers who have come with a high quality dog. It is strongly recommended that you bring a dog that is as close to the ideal type as possible. This class is designed to progress at a fast pace, without taking any shortcuts. With that in mind, we will not hold other handlers back from progressing in the class because your dog is not of the correct genetic makeup.
I cannot stress enough the importance of bringing the correct dog to this class.
All dogs must be at least 10 months old at the time of the class. As long as they meet our requirements, we do not care about the dog's sex, breed, or size. If you bring the correct type of dog to this class, I guarantee you will see amazing results by the end of the course.
The following is a rough outline of what I look for when evaluating a potential detector dog. I suggest you bring a dog that passes as many of these tests as possible.
Environmental Stability and Temperament
All dogs must, first and foremost, be environmentally stable. Dogs must willingly walk and climb on a variety of surfaces (e.g. slippery floors, open/steep stairways, rubble piles and other unstable surfaces). Additionally, we expect dogs to jump on raised surfaces (e.g. tables, cabinets, desks) and be confident working in a variety of environments with loud noises and stressful stimuli (e.g. dark or confined spaces, loud/moving vehicles, various distractions). Dogs must demonstrate a very free and open, enthusiastic expression WITHOUT a toy despite changes of environment.
Secondly, we require dogs with a sound, stable temperament and a bold, confident attitude. Dogs that show shyness, nervousness, submissiveness or excessive aggression will not be considered. Dogs must tolerate or welcome a variety of people approaching and must be able to walk around groups of unfamiliar people without showing fear or aggression.
In this section, handlers may NOT use a toy to bring their dogs up in drive. Dogs may not have a toy at any time during this section of testing.
The dog should have no issue and show no stress with the following examples:
- walking on slick floors
- walking on open grated stairs or similar
- jumping onto and walking on unstable surfaces (wobbly tables, shopping carts, rubble piles, etc)
- walking inside dark, confined areas
- walking around and through crowds of people
Once the above testing has been completed, please repeat the same scenarios WITH the dog's favorite toy in his mouth. You may initially tease the dog with the toy, but once the dog has the toy in his mouth, there is to be no further interaction between the handler and the toy. The dog may not leave or lose interest in the toy during these tests.
Hunt, Prey, Retrieve Drive
All dogs must show a very high level of hunt, prey and retrieve drives. Dogs must be very strong on a ball, tug or other comparable toys. In terms of intensity and drive, we expect dogs that do not need to be stimulated with the toy in order to build drive for it. Just seeing the toy lying on the ground should be enough to entice the dog to dive onto the toy and possess it for as long as we allow him to keep it. The dog must prefer searching for, chasing and playing with that toy over interactions with other dogs, people and their handler. We do not want dogs that will drop their toy to investigate other scents or because they were distracted by other dogs, people, etc. The dog should carry their toy with them everywhere and maintain a firm hold on it even while relieving themselves outside or jumping and climbing on a variety of surfaces inside and fight to keep the toy when the handler wants it back.
NOTE: Please don't confuse this with resource guarding and handler aggression. We don't expect nor do we prefer dogs that will redirect frustration or aggression towards the handler when being lifted off of a toy, just a dog that is committed to keeping his toy.
When testing hunt/retrieve drive, the dog must show intensity, independence, enthusiasm and perseverance. The dog must search at a reasonably fast pace (appropriate for the age, breed and experience level), not quit searching if the toy is not immediately found and should not require multiple commands to continue searching. The dog must be willing to search in a variety of indoor and outdoor areas with a variety of distractions present.
- Throw the dog's favorite toy under a parked, running vehicle then let him go get it. He should show no hesitation with diving under the car to retrieve his toy.
- The dog should jump in and out of a vehicle's interior, trunk, and bed of pickup truck without issue. This may be done however you like, with or without a toy.
- Demonstrate the dog's hunt drive outside. Take the dog to a field with enough grass or foliage where his toy will fall out of sight when thrown. While holding dog, throw his favorite toy at least 50 feet away, then release him to hunt for it. Handler may not interact with the dog at all while he's hunting. The dog should actively hunt for the toy without becoming distracted or checking out to relieve himself, play with handler, etc.
- Demonstrate the dog's hunt drive inside. This may be done inside any building, store, or even your own home. Tease your dog with his favorite toy, go out of his view to hide the toy, then release him to hunt for it. The dog should actively hunt for the toy without becoming distracted or checking out to relieve himself, play with handler, etc. Reference this video.
- Demonstrate open field retrieves with an unscented, rolled towel. (Please reference this video for how to correctly roll a towel.) Take the dog to a field where the towel will still be in view when you throw it. Hold the dog, tease him with the towel, throw the towel as far as you can throw it, then release the dog to get it. Reference this video for what we are looking for when we say open field retrieve.
- Demonstrate the dog's possessiveness with a rolled towel. While holding him, tease the dog with a towel, throw the towel a short distance, then let the dog get it. Now completely ignore the dog for 60 seconds; dog should stay actively engaged with the toy with no interaction from the handler. We understand that the interaction with the toy varies from breed to breed, i.e. a Malinois should not drop the toy whereas a Lab may drop it and stare or bark at it. Interaction with the toy is all we are looking for here; a dog that drops the toy and walks away will not pass.
While we do not REQUIRE that the dog have usable food drive, please understand that there are areas of training where high food drive will be incredibly useful to teach desired behavior.