What if I told you that you could fix your Pooling Odor problem without working on Pooling Odor? Would you believe me?

It’s true. Well, at least initially.

First, let’s talk about Pooling Odor… now “technically” there is no scientific evidence that Pooling Odor actually exists… it hasn’t actually been “proven”, however every experienced dog handler can tell you that about the phenomenon based on the dog’s reaction to odor… So for the basis of this blog, let’s talk about the phenomenon in which scent “pools” and collects in a way that can cause issues with unproductive alerts.

Pooling Odor is at its essence, an area of high concentration of odor without consistent directionality or flow due to factors that influence the collection of odor. Source may or may not be within or near the pooled odor.

The caption in my picture above sounds a little complicated! I absolutely agree. Let’s break it down.

Let’s relate this to something many of us understand… streams and rivers. Water is tangible to us. What happens when you have a depressed area near the outer edges of a stream?

When a stream flows by a depressed area, water collects in a small adjoining “pool”. This is similar to what happens with odor!

In the video above, we can see how the rocks on the right hand side create a barrier that causes the water to collect…

The rocks provide a perfect barrier to protect the pool. As water collects, flow is no longer in a single direction.

The prevailing direction of movement in the video above from the bottom left corner and flows downstream. The most important thing here is to note that the water in the pool doesn’t have the same current.

That is exactly what Pooling Odor is like. There is no “prevailing current” or directionality. You can picture in your mind’s eye that if our odor was this stream of water, that the hide would be upstream. The dog would have to start downstream and gather all of the information to get “to source”. Some dogs may accidentally end up in the pool on the right. This happens to dogs all the time in odor!

The challenge is that with odor molecules, pooled odor can actually have a HIGHER concentration of odor than where source originates. This is the crux of the issue and is a huge driver of false alerts. Your dog needs to know the difference.

Let’s go back to our water analogy.

If you were swimming… could you tell the difference between swimming in these two locations?

No current…

Strong current…

Of course you can! As a swimmer, you would absolutely know if you were in a current! Well our dogs can tell if there is a “current” in odor. This is directionality… they can tell if there is a direction to the odor. They understand air flow.

What this means is that we need to teach the dog to keep working if they end up in an area with no “current” to the odor.

Pooling odor is often a challenging problem for dogs and handlers to work through.

The thing is… this isn’t actually all that hard as long as you are addressing the right problem.

That’s really the crux of it… you need to address the correct problem!

If we want to fix a Pooling Odor problem, we need to address the root cause of the problem, which is usually a SOURCING issue!

Usually, Pooling Odor problems are actually SOURCING problems. What that means is that solving your issue, may not be helped by practicing more “pain” and less “resolution”. Your dog MAY figure it out on their own… Or the two of you might get really, really frustrated.

Recently, I published a blog, “Training Skills: Improving Sourcing Skills“. That blog really outlines HOW to fix the issue. I went deeper into this issue recently in a webinar.

The bottom line is look for the CAUSE of your problem rather than just practicing more of the problem itself.

When a dog understands Sourcing, and I mean TRULY understands Sourcing and not just pin-pointing, Pooling Odor becomes a non-issue. This is because the dog understands the “current”. Once a dog enters Pooling Odor and doesn’t detect a current, the dog enlarges the search area in order to find the “current” and work the hide back to source.

Brava does a beautiful job working Pooling Odor in the corner back to source in this example. The hide is in a straw on the bottom edge of the drawer on the right (Accessible).

Teach your dog to source and you will FIX your issues with Pooling Odor!