This week, it is time to practice blind hides! There are hides where someone else sets them and then will act as a judge for you. The best option is to use a friend who is also learning scent work, however if you are working all on your own, a significant other or friend can work. It is important that you make sure to educate your new judge on what makes a good hide (ie make sure that it is accessible). Tell your helper to avoid setting “gotcha” hides or ones that are super tricky. Always avoid any hides that are close to sources of heat (windows, stoves, heaters, etc) or anywhere that is unstable or dangerous. Also make sure that your helper understands that the dog might not be able to get their nose directly on the hide and that they should be prepared to accept a yes “zone” which is near to each hide.
I would recommend working in a known area and warm up your dog on a hide or two before you run the blind hides. When you come to the start line, make sure to do everything like you do in practice. Watch your dog closely and watch for changes of behavior and their alert. When you feel that your dog has alerted, do not wait a super long time or ask your dog to re-indicate on the spot. Rather, call “ALERT!” Your friend will then say “Yes” or “No”. If they say yes, then feed your dog heavily at source. Congrats!
If your friend says, “No”. Then do NOT reward your dog, but let your dog keep searching and avoid showing your dog where the hide is. If the hides is too difficult, then leave the search area and reset it to an easier location.
Here are some videos from Iona’s NW1 to give you an idea of what a blind hide should look like.
Here is a Mock Trial (always make sure that both you and your dog go through the start line).