From Narcotics K9 to Nosework K9 with Holly Bushard: Interview & Reflections Part 1



Today, Crystal, Stacy, and Robin reflect on their interview with Holly Bushard, playing back clips from the best moments in their conversation and expanding on them. Holly was a police officer, working as a narcotics detection dog handler with the police department, which eventually led her into nosework.

Holly shares about the dog that helped her overcome her initial struggles and jumpstarted her career, and Crystal, Stacy, and Robin also think back on their most difficult-to-train dogs. Holly discusses the value of watching and learning from the wins and mistakes of other handlers. Stacy outlines the evolution of training approaches, which generally move from dog-driven approaches at lower levels into a heavier emphasis on teamwork at higher levels. They discuss the difficulty of being a beginner and reflect on their own personal journeys, and the importance of redefining success. They delve into dogs’ observation skills and how to communicate to your dog with body language, and then chat about the power of reinforcement.

They dive into how scent theory is learned, and the problems encountered on certifications, from detection dogs to nosework dogs. Crystal, Stacy, and Robin explain some of the lessons they’ve learned through experience on certifications. They explore handler perception of how searches should be dictated. They then expand on the differences between ‘red’ and ‘pink’ dogs in the training world.


Key Topics:

  • Introducing Holly Bushard (01:39)

  • Reflecting on ‘terrible’ dogs (3:42)

  • Watching and learning (16:27)

  • Training approaches (20:04)

  • The difficulties of being a beginner (22:05)

  • Communicating with body language (25:15)

  • Reinforcement and dog decision making (28:14)

  • Learning scent theory (37:05)

  • Handler perception of searches (49:58)

  • ‘Red’ dogs versus ‘pink’ dogs (56:05)

Resources:

  • K9 Detection Collaborative Episode 5: Let's Talk About Pressure

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