Confidence is one of those qualities where it can be difficult to put your thumb on WHAT it means or how to develop it. At the same time it is a core, critical component to ensuring that a nosework dog is successful, either at competition or at utilizing the activity for deep enrichment. It turns out that when we enhance a dog’s Mood, Engagement, and Independence while searching, the result is greater confidence.
Mood for our purposes can be described as a feeling of optimism and connection to the handler. This quality is directly tied to the handler’s own emotions. We will cover how to shift the handler and the dog’s mood prior to the search.
Engagement in the search is directly tied to the dog’s interest level. We will cover ways to increase engagement as well as address the “sweet spot” in terms of hide placement or search area challenge level. Too challenging and we create anxiety…. Too easy and we risk boredom. By finding and developing that sweet spot, we can see a huge uptick in the dog’s search performance.
Independence is more than just standing aside and letting the dog work. It’s partly created by developing the belief inside that dog that YES, they CAN do it, and partly by understanding the impacts of accidental pressure due to handler proximity so that we can constantly seek to release that pressure.
This talk will go into how these three aspects, the Trifecta, work together, why each are important, and we will highlight actionable ideas to improve each of them. You will find that by addressing all three of these aspects at the same time, you will create a more confident team member. We will have the opportunity to not only discuss the concept of how these qualities work together, but we will also review videos demonstrating what we can specifically do to enhance our dogs’ confidence overall.