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We had a long conversation with one of our participants last week. She told us “I’m overthinking it!” It got me to thinking about simplicity and complexity. If there were four blog posts I would ask everyone to refer to regularly, it would be these:

1. Your dog is only trying to achieve states of pleasure and avoid stress. The ideal candidate for detection lives in quadrant 1, with a few purposeful trips into quadrant 2.

2. Your dog should have some genetically based behavior pathways to help them succeed. Such genetic pathways must be “activated” through development to make them part of the dog’s normal behavior.

3. Behavior begins at the cellular level. They don’t wake up one morning with the whole behavior suite of a detection dog. Gene expression is controlled by the use and how the dog responds to their use. These core emotions and their associated neuro-physiology is how we can shape a better dog. We must make conscious choices to reduce FEAR, yet raise SEEKING and PLAY.

4. Within this program we are thinking of these primary learning/development abilities associated with good detection dogs. Some are more easily developed in younger dogs and other abilities will only develop after as the dog matures.