Instructor: Stacy Barnett
Do you want to make your team the best you can be? The key to success in Nosework is in Generalization and Proofing. This course isn’t a skills based course although skills will be enhanced and honed. It’s a course entirely devoted to trial preparation. Use a systematic process to identify your particular challenges and then design a customized preparation plan for your dog to build confidence, motivation, and ease in novel environments particular to the level that you currently preparing for. All of our Nosework courses are targeted at getting you trial ready at whatever level you are at, but this course takes trial readiness to the next level. This course is appropriate for all levels of Nosework students and will give you the confidence you need to step to the start line.
This class is suitable regardless of your Nosework background or how you introduced odor to your dog. This class is designed to be repeated and to provide the online student with structure necessary to continue to build skills for successful trialing. (Bronze and Silvers will also be building customized plans!)
This is an excellent class for sensitive or environmental dogs as there is a heavy emphasis on the mental state of the dog.
You can expect in this class to see lots and lots of videos of different dogs working. One of the best learning methods is watching different dogs work. You'll find that your eye improves and your own ability to read your dog skyrockets! This class will not only showcase dogs working in the Gold threads but will also showcase a ton of dogs at different levels working throughout the lectures.
You can expect your dog to get much closer to being trial ready, and you can expect your own handling to improve by leaps and bounds! Hope to see you in class!
There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.
Registration will begin at 11:00 AM Pacific Time.
For answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 15 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Silver level for this class is offered as "Working Silver". In addition to asking GENERAL clarification questions about the class lecture materials, silver students will now have the opportunity to submit two short videos, one minute each, for critique and review. You may submit two questions. Each question MUST have a one minute video attached so the instructor can actually answer a question that they can see. The question must relate to a topic in the class and the video must be a demo of the question. Please see the discussion forum for a detailed explanation - feel free to sign up at bronze, read the explanation, and then come back here to upgrade to silver if that interests you, and if space is available.
If you are interested in a bronze level subscription, you can sign up at any time during the registration period.
- How to know when your dog is trial ready
- Introduction to Generalization and Proofing
- Performance baseline
- Handling Analysis - what to look for and how to self assess
- Assessing the handler’s trial readiness
- Mental plan for trialing
- Develop trial preparation plan for your dog (and you!)
- Generalizing the sensitive dog
- Review of basic Scent Theory
- Review of hide placement skills
- What to expect at a trial
- Approach to generalization
- Selecting training areas and training conditions
- Execute on trial preparation plan
- Generalizing Interiors and Containers
- Addressing scary interiors… it’s all about confidence!
- Taking Containers on the road
- Execute on trial preparation plan
- Generalizing Exteriors and Vehicles
- Thoughts on proofing and maintaining a healthy balance
- Addressing crittering and odor… chicken or the egg
- Execute on trial preparation plan
- Degrees of proofing
- Proofing skills and games
- Maintaining and building drive
- Startline routines are everything!
- Execute on trial preparation plan
- Combining generalization and proofing
- Go Big or Go Home… taking generalization to the next level when appropriate
- Developing stamina in searching
- Self assessment of trial readiness
There are no formal prerequisites for this class. Your dog should be working odor only and be working all four elements (containers, interiors, exteriors and vehicles). This class is for ALL levels and will be equally valuable at each level. Title level or degree of capability is not expected.
This class is suitable regardless of how you started initially on odor. For students who have already taken FDSA Nosework courses, this class is part of a logical progression after NW120 or NW230.
There is value in repeating this class as the class is tailored to the student's skill level at the time of class.
No special equipment is needed beyond basic Nosework supplies. However, creative types of Containers will be useful! You might find it helpful to put together a travel kit. One example can be found here: http://www.paws4fun.net/sniff-n-go-kit/
Lecture 2.1.A Clarity as a Confidence Booster
Learning to read your dog is CRITICAL. Yes. We all know that… we all know that learning to read our dog gives us the tools to call “Alert” and hopefully earn a “YES”. However, there is so much more to it than that. It’s a critical component to building the dog’s confidence. Intertwined into this is the dog’s communication to the handler that he has arrived at Source. The indication isn’t innate… it has to be developed. It’s developed over time through a dance between the handler and dog where the handler reads the dog and the dog learns what behaviors result in reinforcement.
Confidence? Yes of course. It’s highly stressful to a dog to not know HOW to win the game. He’s found the bunny but unless he can convey his find to the handler, reward is not going to be forthcoming. Nothing is more demotivational to a dog than finding a hide and being ignored by the handler. The handler MUST learn to read the dog.
Does this mean we need a trained final response? No. In fact, a trained final response is the very first thing to fall apart under stress. Searching is a behavior chain. It starts with a cue to search and ends with an indication and reward for the find. All too often I find handlers reliant on a final response. I hear “he has to look at me before his reward” but all too often, so much of the dog’s body has already conveyed where source is located.
So let’s take a step back and think about what happens BEFORE the final response. (A final response is the action that a dog takes to convey finding the hide. This can be either trained or encouraged. Common final responses might include sit or down or can include a look back.) Before a final response, you might see behaviors like head snaps, heavy interest sniffing, wagging of a tail, stiffening of body posture and most importantly nose orienting to source.
In a situation where a dog is stressed, such as at a trial or in the case of environmental dogs, just being a new location, will dampen ALL behaviors. All of the indication that the dog is at source will lessen and it’s quite possible that the final response will not be given. In the case of a handler that relies on that final response, it’s very possible that the dog will go unrewarded at source!
So what can we do? We can do several things… (1) we can ensure that we reward for nose on source, (2) we can lower the stimulus of the environment while increasing the reward and (3) we can get better at reading our dog’s natural language.
Let’s talk about each in turn.
We can ensure that we reward for nose on source… What does this mean? This means that we ALWAYS reward at source. We are rewarding in position. In this way we are encouraging our dogs to be PRECISE. Nose at source, whether you have a look back, a sit, a down, or just a freeze, it rewards for precision at source. Building that reinforcement history is critical. This puts the dog into a very natural and easy indication to the handler that he is at source. No stress, no bother.
Don’t worry about that final indication, READ your dog and reward at source! It also becomes VERY clear to the dog that reinforcement is forthcoming. Your motion forward is a positive affirmation that the cookie is coming. Nose touch to source (or as near as possible) is a natural phenomenon that occurs as soon as the dog gets to source, regardless of the final indication. If you reward at or as near as possible to source you will reinforce this.
We can lower the stimulus of the environment while increasing the reward… This is pretty easy… when in a new environment, make the hide EASIER. It can be as easy as slapping a hide on a wall and shrinking the search area to TINY for the environmental dog. Set the dog up for SUCCESS. Success breeds confidence.
For this, go to a series of locations and literally place an easy to find hide. Keep the rate of reinforcement HIGH. I like to use school exteriors for this and use every little alcove and bend as a new search area. The dog acclimates to one location (the school) but has the opportunity to do 5 or 6 searches in quick succession, building confidence with each one.
We can get better at reading our dog’s natural body language… This takes some time and effort. One really helpful technique is to video your search then watch the search in slow motion. I have one student who has a very environmental dog who videoed a ton of searches and broke down her body language into into individual pieces. We noticed that a rotation of her body and a specific wag of the tail indicated source. Some of this could only be seen in slow motion. (If you upload to YouTube, you can watch your video at any speed.) What you will find is that there are probably four or five behaviors that your dog exhibits before indicating source. This is all about reading the Change of Behavior. A Change of Behavior DOES indicate a certain point in time but it also indicates a chain of events that leads to source. It’s that chain of events that you need to watch and learn. If you are a green handler, I would suggest doing very few blind hides. Handlers like to move to blind hides so quickly. However, if you are new to reading your dog and you are late to reward, you can negatively impact the dog’s confidence. A lower confidence dog green dog is very susceptible to ill effects of delayed reinforcement.
The overall essence is that we need to become better partners for our dogs. Those of us on second, third or more Nosework dogs realize how much easier training is. It’s not because we are being gifted with better partners… it’s because we are better at being THEIR partner. We are better at reading and we are better at training. We are better at being clear that reward comes with nose goes to source. Clarity reduces stress and helps to build confidence. Reward at source. Build your dog’s success rate and learn to read your dog. These tools will create a confident team with clear criteria for reward.
A sampling of what prior students have said ...
I can't believe how much my dog and I have learned in the 6 weeks of NW350, and how much fun we've had doing it! With the help of Stacy's lectures, homework tools and all of the really insightful feedback, we are well on our way to becoming a solid nosework team. Thanks so much!!
This is my second Gold Level class with Stacy.... and all I can say is.... keep them coming! Her lectures make you think... and her feedback and support have been just what we needed. I am amazed by our progress over the last several months. Carla W
I took this class at the Bronze level and was not disappointed. Stacy provided excellent lectures along with fabulous videos all of which were presented in an easy to understand format. During this class and because of the topics covered Meeka was able to earn her PT4, Novice Exterior and Novice Vehicle search titles. Thank you Stacy for such a thorough and informative class! Ang G & Meeka (Black Russian Terrier)
This is one of the most valuable classes I have taken with my dog thus far, not only for NW, but also for any other activity I'd like to do with her. The step-by-step guide to self assessment, goal setting, making an appropriate plan, and tracking our progress was enormously helpful. I am more deliberate when planning my training sessions, and I can more accurately assess how they went. My generalization and proofing process is no longer haphazard, and my environmental dog is developing confidence and drive in new situations. These skills will be an indispensable addition to my training toolbox!
Stacey has inspired me to continue playing the nosework game. Six months ago my dog had never seen a tin or a scented Qtip and now she has all three ORTs and we are entered in a NW1 trial. She is a phenomenal instructor who really understands the principles of scent theory and is very practical in her assessments of each team's performance, bringing out the best in all of us. Even if she is directing a particular point to one team, everyone benefits from her knowledge and understanding of the smallest details! Outstanding addition to FDSA !!! Ana C.
Stacy Barnett's NW350 course on Generalization and Proofing for Nosework may be one of the best online courses I have ever taken. I loved all the self-assessment assigned in the beginning. It really helped make the course material more personalized. Stacy is a brilliant, enthusiastic, and supportive teacher that really goes the extra mile for her students. She assigns a lot of homework, but all of it was fun and useful. She is also amazing at fostering a sense of community and connection in the discussion forums. I learned a lot and will definitely be signing up for more of her courses in the future.