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Fill in the Blank

Today, Robin, Stacy and Crystal discuss how to use blank sessions to your advantage.

Blank areas, while they can be anxiety-inducing, can be a way for handlers to evaluate their dog’s behavior, and in the process build their stamina, attention, and trust.

“We should really start redefining how we think of blank areas: Blank areas are an opportunity for us to work on nose time with the dog. We call when it’s finished. The dog doesn’t call when it’s finished.”

Our hosts discuss how blank areas allow handlers and dogs to forge a closer partnership through greater awareness and communication by giving the dog the skills they need to search an area with no scent/odor.

They also encourage trainers to reframe blank areas as hunt setups. This way, it becomes more productive when taking on blanks to ask: “How do I build a dog that enjoys hunting?”

Key Topics:

  • Finding opportunities in blank areas (03:35)

  • Blank areas as nose time (10:58)

  • Establishing your “working contract” with a dog early on (17:48)

  • Going from a blind blank to a blind with a hide (18:28)

  • How frequently to train blanks (24:43)

  • Dealing with handler anxiety (32:52)

  • Subtlety versus confidence in a dog (35:38)

  • How blanks teach handlers how to push and pull their dog (42:03)

  • When to start incorporating blank searches (45:30)

  • Why blank sessions do not need to end with wins (51:08)

  • Finding what motivates your dog (55:08)

  • Final takeaways (1:02:25)


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