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Consider a dog needed at a major airport-

As the dog walks through the airport, every kiosk, vending machine, trash can, water fountain, piece of luggage, and person is a target to search for odor. As the dog searches they encounter every variety of flooring to walk on, constant distractions of overhead announcements, the sound of rolling luggage, sliding glass doors, electric carts scurrying through the crowd, people walking and talking, and the smells are even more plentiful, powerful, and distracting!

Now imagine you are raising a puppy in a rural area with few strange visitors, little drive-by traffic, a calm and quiet daily routine, and a consistent odor picture of the environment. What is that pup prepared for? I have worked with a lot of people who trained the best backyard detectors in the world, but when tested in a more dynamic environment these pups were too stressed and/or distracted.

Create patterns of behavior for the growing dog. Find places you can routinely take the dog that will simulate an environment that is typical of the average working detection dog. You don’t need special permissions to be able to approximate these areas. Outside of a grocery store, garden areas of building or ranch centers, walking by school yards, busy city main streets, all can do the job. Don’t get stuck doing the same place or places all the time. Be creative while staying safe, but teach the dog to generalize being able to stay on task in distracting environments.

REMEMBER- Socialization is not the dog having to visit, be petted, or be rewarded by strangers. It is the dog’s ability to stay on task regardless of being around other people and animals.