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Don’t ever feel shy about either posting or not posting video. We learn the most and can often provide more critique from situations like this wherein you may not be sure why something is happening.
Manufacturing hides is PERFECTLY OK. Try not to have a stigma around it. It is about support. If you go out and have a session where every single hide is a manufactured one, you still win. That is still a good day.
It is likely a combination of factors. From everything you are saying he probably was feeling pressure and stress. This can stem from a lot of things, but often we as handlers can have a much larger impact on our dogs that we think!
So you have to view it as fun and relax! Easier said than done we realize. In level 3 we go over this kind of connection and grounding a lot. Sometimes it is just about taking a moment to breathe and connect. We do have exercises for it in level 3. It is one of the more complex facets to truffle hunting is understanding and really feeling the connection when working as a team. And it is a team. Handler and dog balance each other. When one party is off it is amplified in the other, which is what we are hearing from you in your narrative above.
All of us handle this kind of stress in different ways. As an example from me personally, I have learned over the last two years that if I am crunched on time for hunting it adds stress. This stress begets more stress which intern dramatically effects the quality of the search & alerts performed by my dog in question. The dog feels this shift in energy from me as a handler and behavior is altered. I could view these outings as a failure, but instead internalize it as a learning experience. Positive take aways.
So now, I don’t go hunting if I am stressed, and if for some reason I am when I am out there, I take a minute and ground and really try to let go of the expectations and just be present.
If you have ever attended a Yoga class, it is along those lines. Don’t worry about what Wolfy is or isn’t finding. Just be present in the moment of the search. If you manufacture successes (and we suggest you do here), that is just great. there is nothing wrong with that.
You said he found the hide eventually, but it was a struggle. Bev this is a GREAT learning opportunity and experience. We’d rather in the future (and you may have gathered this from your experience this weekend) just stop for the day. Don’t force it. If something isn’t feeling right, it isn’t feeling right.
As Taylor Swift says, Shake it off.
Digging holes in the dirt is a stress displacement behavior for many dogs.
You don’t have to find the targets. It is hard to internalize we know, but it is far better just to leave them all out there, and leave happy and connected than to stress yourselves collectively finding the target. It’s great you did end with some manufactured hides and successes.
One of the hardest parts of being an handler for many teams is the ability to let go. Let it go. There is no failure, nothing is bad. Living up to our own expectations sometimes applies more pressure on ourselves and on our team.
We as handlers need to let go of expectations in scenarios as it applies pressure. So that’s what we want you to do for the next few days: No expectations. Really try to go out into your scenario not expecting anything from Wolfy either than the two of you communicating and being present in the scenario. Have your target on you to throw out for him. Keep this search short, under 5 minutes. If he doesn’t find it, that is A-OK. Don’t expect him to find it. It sounds trivial, but just take some deep breathes, roll your shoulders and enter the search scenario with a clear mind and throw out the hide for him more times than you think necessary. In 5 minutes shoot for 5 tosses and manufactured success. No other expectations. Focus on beathing and being aware of your surroundings without analyzing them. Notice the presence of the trees and the wind and the dirt and the cars going by, but don’t go into your head thinking about ‘how’ that is going to effect Wolfy during this session. Just be present.