Ok! Hopefully everyone is staying healthy and safe. As promised, here is the next installment of my FREE Training Series which I’m publishing in order to give everyone something to train while we wait for this crisis to pass. In this installment, we will explore Horizontally Layered Hides.

What are Horizontally Layered Hides?

It is easier to show you an example rather than describe it! In this example, I have placed a hide in each “police car”. The odors are the same! Brava approaches the hides going into the wind. Notice that the hides are both the same height.

Brava approaches both hides going into the wind. The challenge of this set up is (1) reading it, and (2) Brava needs to be able to tell that this setup includes 2 hides!

What is so challenging about this set of hides?

This setup is not blind, and therefore that lowers the complexity for me, however, I would have to be a very astute handler to recognize that there are actually 2 hides in a blind situation!

Are you curious? Do you want to see the entire search?

Watch how Brava solves this puzzle… what would tell you that there are 2 hides and not one?

As you can see from the video that Brava found this setup to be rather challenging. She was SURE that there was only a hide in the car on the right! This is an excellent puzzle for her to work. And because it’s challenging, I definitely want to work this as a “known”search. I also would not want to leave the area until both hides are found.

Why is this so challenging?

Let’s take a look at what happens here… I’ve taken some screen shots to help describe what is happening.

Brava reaches the first car and gets into odor
She is in odor and starts to follow the odor around the “vehicle”. At this point, our hope is that she will follow the odor to source.
When her head lifts, she catches the scent cone coming off of the second vehicle (it’s the same target odor). She is effectively “Hijacked” by the more clear odor picture.
Brava speeds up in recognition that there IS odor coming from the second “vehicle”.
She starts to localize the odor on the second vehicle.
And then Brava sources the hide on the second vehicle. This causes her to believe that the puzzle is now complete.

Half of the skill required here is handler skill

This becomes a “Reading the Dog” problem because the handler needs to recognize when a “hijack” happens. You will see it happen when a dog works an area, starts to localize, and THEN puts on a spurt of energy to a nearby area. Although this is not always the case, when the handler see this, it is a potential “hijacking”.

Setting up searches like this will help you to identify when those shifts happen so that you can respond.

Is this an odor obedience issue?


For this to be an odor obedience issue, the dog would need to know that there are two hides. The dog can only be “obedient” to hides that they are aware of. When a dog is “hijacked” by a different hide, there is a very real mental shift.

The dog in this case is not choosing to leave a hide… rather the dog is choosing to actively work odor. Although the difference may sound subtle, it really isn’t. Odor obedience is a prioritization and choice issue. Neither of those things are in play in this situation.

Some other things to consider…

  • Only set out two hides in this situation. If you set more than two in this case, you won’t be able to really see what is occurring and the lesson will be “muddied”.
  • Set the hides at the same height and start the dog downwind so as to encounter the hides on a linear path.
  • Play around with 2 hides of different target odors and 2 hides of the same. Do you see a difference in your dog?