Distractions Don’t Have (Large) Scent Cones

Well, they do actually.  Technically.  But in general their scent cones are much smaller!

I’m going to tell you a story…. It’s about Judd’s first foray into SDDA Elite.  SDDA is the Canadian nosework association.  It’s a super organization and I’ve been to a handful of trials.  Judd is currently working on his Champion and has started the Elite level.  In SDDA, a false alert means "Do not pass GO.  Do not collect $200”.  We were in a trial where Containers (2-4 hides), Exteriors (0-3 hides) and Interiors (0-5 hides over 2-3 search areas) were to be done back to back. We started with Containers.  There were 19 or 20 pieces of luggage on the floor and on chairs in a conference room.  Judd has challenges with distractions.  I was nervous!  There were only 2 hides, both in snap close change purses.  We found them both with no false alerts!  Next up was Exteriors. The area was probably 1500 square feet, maybe a little larger.  Judd found the single hide on the picnic table (he climbed on it and sourced it from above) and we called Finish correctly.  Phew!!!  On to Interiors….  There were two rooms.  In the first room Judd found one hide.  Then I asked him to detail….  He nosed the flap on the air conditioner.  I called “Alert” with trepidation and received a dreaded “No”.  It was a big chunk of dog food roll (like Happy Howie’s).  SUNK.

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In SDDA, UKC and AKC you will encounter food distractions (and other distractions) in general searches.  It got me thinking…. I should have known!

Why?

Well to begin with, distractions have small scent cones and essential oils have large scent cones.  THAT MEANS THAT I SHOULD HAVE CALLED FINISH!  This is astute; really it is…. If you do a sweep of the room and you don’t find something, don’t belabor it and detail the area.  You WILL find distractions that didn’t entice your dog to alert earlier.

It all comes down to vapor pressure….

Essentially, without getting into the technical mumbo-jumbo like the Antoine Equation, vapor pressure dictates how volatile a substance will be…. Meaning how easily scent particles will dissipate into the air.  A substance with a high vapor pressure, such as an essential oil, will vaporize easily.  Happy Howie’s, however yummy, just doesn't have a vapor pressure as high as essential oils.

This means…. Your dog is more likely to follow essential oils to source than a chunk of processed meat.

This is good news!

This means…. Trust your dog….  And call Finish BEFORE you find the distraction!

Happy Sniffing!


© Stacy Barnett 2015