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001 - Cooking up Detection with Cameron Ford

In this very first episode of Road to Detection, I'm joined by Cameron Ford, of Ford K9. If you're in any detection discipline, Cameron needs no introduction! However, if you're new here, check out his bio. This talented trainer has been involved in some impressive initiatives in his time from detection dog training for Police, SWAT and Navy Seals, collaborating on research with Duke University and Texas Tech University Canine Olfaction Laboratory, as well as leading Ford K9 to train trainers and share knowledge across our industry.


In this episode, we discuss our journey in the world of scent detection training and the changes we've seen over the years. We discuss the importance of sharing knowledge and being open-minded in training methodologies, the need for flexibility in training and the challenges of helping our students overcome their fear of trying new things.


Cameron drops a teaser of the new project that he, Natalie and Michael have been working on, the Detection Dog Cookbook, which provides different recipes for training a variety of different dogs that all need an individual approach. I'm looking forward to this! I think it'll be such a great tool for handlers as well as instructors in nosework to have so many recipes to choose from. Jus like our mom's spaghetti, no two dogs are exactly the same!


We also discuss the importance of zero hides and variable reinforcement schedules in training. This is something I've really focused on with my own dog, Vimy and I'm happy to see these concepts catching on. I was definitely surprised by Cameron's answer in the lightning round on the % of blanks he does with his personal dogs!


This was an incredibly insightful interview and I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. In future episodes of Road to Detection, I'll be sharing some of my favorite formats: Training Audits, and Do The Training, to really start getting nerdy about my favorite topic, scent detection.


In this episode we discuss:

00:00 Origin Story

04:28 Changes in the Industry

13:01 Flexibility in Training Methodologies

23:21 The Detection Dog Cookbook

29:33 Introducing the Concept of Zero and Variable Reinforcement Schedules

35:34 Challenges and Strategies in Training Inaccessible Hides

35:51 Training Dogs for Inaccessible Hides

43:59 Understanding Dogs' Cognitive Profiles in Training

50:45 The Role of Obedience in Detection Training (Cameron released Contact Heeling for Detection after we recorded. Enjoy!)

56:13 Effective Nonverbal Communication in Training

01:03:32 The Importance of Blank Searches in Training

01:07:13 The Trend of Conditioned Reinforcers in Detection Training


Click here to listen on Apple or on Spotify


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scent detection training, detection industry changes, knowledge sharing, flexibility in training, Detection Dog Cookbook, variable reinforcement schedules, training inaccessible hides, mental flexibility, detection dog training, inaccessible hides, depth and height, cognitive profiles, obedience, nonverbal communication, blank searches, conditioned reinforcers

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