One thing separates teams who CAN find high hides from those who can’t. That one thing is Confidence.

Without Confidence, dogs don’t know how to be successful, and handlers don’t trust the dogs. Join me on my blog series on Elevation and Confidence.

A HUGE amount of confidence and trust is required to call a high hide in competition

Because odor from elevated hides travels farther, the challenge level of locating and calling a high hide accurately increases as the complexity of the hide increases. Even at the Elite and Summit levels where you CAN get a No, it can affect your score and more importantly, scare you off of taking the risk of calling “Alert” in the future.

Here’s a “threshold” elevated hide in the rafters of a VERY large Summit search. Although the judges were generous on their calls, you don’t know that as a competitor.

The dog needs to feel confident in order to attempt a high hide especially if there are other easier hides around

Will your dog willingly forsake easier hides to “go for” the high one even if the high one is closer? Or will they pass up the high one in order to focus almost entirely on the low hides. Working a high hide in the vicinity of low hides takes a HUGE reinforcement history and total self-confidence on the dog’s part. Sometimes the high ones get left as the dog focuses on “low hanging fruit”.

Here Judd sources a high threshold hide during a search (Summit). He was one of only a couple of dogs to source this hide.

It’s too easy for the dog to feel frustration with high hides

High hides are REALLY hard… Keep in mind that the dog doesn’t just use his nose to find the hides. In fact, it’s probably likely that cognition and deduction of the hide location plays an equal part as olfaction. Solving high hides takes experience and past success, especially under time pressure and especially when there are other hides in the area. When the dog doesn’t find the hide easily, frustration runs rampant. When a dog is frustrated, his effectiveness goes down as well as his confidence.

The dog’s nose is only ONE piece of information!


NEXT INSTALLMENT: What makes a dog confident in sourcing high hides?

See also: Bulletproof Elevation, a 3 Part Workshop