Why we value our Students more than money, and why that makes us different.
These are excerpts pulled from our competitors' Introduction to Odor/Nosework class descriptions:
"Build drive for the game through supporting your dog in his/her "hunt" for primary reinforcers and through creating increasingly more challenging scent puzzles, in multiple search environments."
"Classes focus on teaching and encouraging the development of your dog’s natural scenting abilities by using their desire to hunt for food and/or toys. "
"The Intro class teaches the basics of the game, gets your dog focused and enthusiastic about hunting and helps you learn the beginnings of handling skills and reading your dog."
This company has not one, but two, "Intro" classes: "Learn to constructively engage your dog's sense of smell, cultivate natural hunting instincts, strengthen the human-canine bond, and provide appropriate mental and physical stimulation for your dog." ... "Teams who complete Intro to Nose Work and are proficient with the foundation skills can enroll in K9 NW2 - The Sequel. This course will explore advanced sniffing techniques."
This all may sound great, and it's supposed to. If you have fallen prey to these marketing techniques, don't fret- it is through no fault of your own.
As a company, we pride ourselves in valuing our clients' time and money. As trainers, we pride ourselves in valuing our dogs' intelligence and clarity of behaviors.
So, we will help you read between the lines of what our competitors are asking of you.
In all of these examples, these trainers are offering a class for you to teach your dog how to search for food.
Why don't we offer that here at Kaiser K9?
It's one thing to teach your dog to search for food if you have no plans of ever competing with your dog in the sport of nosework.
But if you might ever consider playing this game with your dog- having your dog search for target odors (essential oils)- then teaching your dog to search for food is not only a waste of your time and money, it can actually be detrimental to your dog's training and confidence in its behavior.
The diagram below depicts how your dog should "see" odor. Once conditioned to all three, all three odors become the "target odor", or the distinct odor that the dog is searching for.
This diagram depicts how your dog sees odor if it is first taught to search for food before being put on odor:
Note that in the 2nd picture, food is included in the target odor category and is much larger than the three essential oils- birch, anise, and clove.
Why did this happen?
Food is what is called a "primary reinforcer". If you go back and read the aforementioned excerpts from our competitors, two even specifically mention that is what will be used; the others allude to it (mostly because they do not put your dog on odor in that class, so you must be using a primary reinforcer).
A primary reinforcer is something that the dog finds INHERENTLY reinforcing- it is the item with which you reward the dog for doing the behavior it was supposed to do to reach the reward.
Primary reinforcers are typically paired with secondary reinforcers, also known as "bridges" (your "yes", "good", *clicker*, etc.). These are secondary reinforcers because they are a communicative tool used to tell the dog that they completed the correct behavior and the primary reinforcer is coming. An example includes using a clicker to teach "sit": You say 'sit', the dog sits, you *click* for the correct behavior, then you provide the primary reinforcer (food/toy/etc.).
In our competitors' Intro classes, since food is the primary reinforcer, it takes 0 steps for the dog to get from behavior to reward. This inherently makes the dog learn the behavior faster because the timing of the reward is so close to the performance of the behavior (it IS, in fact, the behavior- finding the food). This is a behavior that most dogs find very easy, and very rewarding. This also makes this behavior more difficult to unlearn.
A dog that has ever been told to search for food will see food as a target odor until enough time and enough unsuccessful repetitions convince it otherwise. This creates conflict.
This is why, at Kaiser K9, we don't waste your time or your money with gimmicky "Intro" Classes.
This is what you will learn in our Intro course:
- What is Scent Detection?
- What are the Goals of a Scent Detection Dog?
- Properties of Odor and Odor Recognition
- Use of Training Logs- Introductory Training
- Handler Training: Responsibilities of the Handler
- Handler Training: Reward Timing and Placement
- K9 Training: Odor Recognition
- How Stress Affects the Sporting Team
We will put your dog on odor in our Intro class. What does this mean for you?
- You save time by taking 50-75% less classes.
- You save money by spending 50-75% less.
- Your dog will learn odor recognition quickly and effectively.
- Your dog will NOT be in conflict when food is introduced as a distractor.
- You and your dog spend more time playing and having fun together.
If you have read this far and think, "My dog was trained to search for food, now what?"- have no fear. This can be fixed.
Our methods and practices of reward timing and placement create a learning environment for the dog to understand that "odor = food", and, once your dog is ready, we will practically set up scenarios to help your dog discriminate between target and non-target odors. Because our methods are so clear and quick to learn for the dog, the rate of reinforcement is very high for the correct behavior and the conflict of switching off of food is minimized.
We were tired of seeing people and dogs pay the price of trainers and companies in this industry designing classes that are detrimental to the dogs' wellbeing.
We prefer to limit the amount of conflict in our lives and our relationships with our dogs, and we know you do, too. We want our students to learn this quickly and easily! And if that means we can't stretch you and your dog's learning over 12 - 18 weeks of intro courses, so be it. We don't consider that fair or ethical to you or your dog.