A friend posted the link to this video,* (link below) and I’ve watched it a dozen times.
I’ve trialed my dogs multiple times in multiple nose work organizations in the past two years. I’m a judge, and I also teach scent work. I’ve been glued to NACSW videos on YouTube, as I’ve prepared for the various levels in that venue. It’s safe to say that I’ve watched or seen several thousand runs.
This clip shows some of the best handling I have seen. Maybe THE best handling I’ve seen. It’s all about the dog, not the handler’s ego. Click on the underscored text above and watch it.
At the start she engages with Gitta. Looking closely, you can see the dog is a bit distracted, perhaps worried. Melissa takes a few seconds to connect.
At 17 seconds she sees that Gitta is uncomfortable with the photographer and the scary equipment that’s there. She calmly tells the pup ‘no big deal!’ and doesn’t get frazzled or appear worried. She continues on without a hiccup, assessing her dog’s reactions.
At :23 seconds, she knows Gitta won’t search successfully. Immediately, without missing a beat, she opts to start from the opposite side of the rows, so that frightening photographer and worrisome equipment is safely behind the dog.
Gitta starts off again, and almost immediately hits the hot box. The entire search took 24 seconds. Melissa didn’t drag her dog along, asking her to search, she didn’t lose her own focus or equanimity, and she clearly knows her dog. Better – most important – she took steps to set Gitta up to succeed.
I’m in awe of how Melissa handled the situation. Seamlessly, easily, she partnered with Gitta so they succeeded as a team. I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to learn from such a wonderful handler.
After watching the video yet again, I’m considering how to apply the principles and actions Melissa took to other dog performance sports with my 2 pups.
*Melissa is not only an excellent handler, she also is incredibly generous. She graciously allowed me to use her video with the hopes it would help even one team succeed. Thank you, Melissa!