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004 - Embracing Mistakes: The Key to Learning with Dr. Melanie Uhde


In Episode 004 of Road to Detection Podcast, I'm joined by Dr. Melanie Uhde where we discuss the importance of stress and learning in dog training. Honestly, this episode is not just relevant to scent detection, but for anyone interested in knowing more about stress, resiliency and learning in our dogs. If you're a dog trainer or dog owner, this episode is for you!


I came to know Dr. Melanie as I have previously attended a few of her webinars and just loved them! So packed with science and tangible strategies. It was after these webinars that I reached out to Dr. Melanie for a 1:1 regarding some issues I was having with Vimy's barking (IYKYK). It was during that discussion that she brough up the concept of micro-dosing stress to help our dogs become more resilient. I just new I had to have her on the show to unpack that concept even further!


"With qualifications that include a Ph.D. in Natural Sciences and a Master's Degree in Biology, Dr. Melanie Uhde continues to push the boundaries of canine research and training. Additionally, she completed advanced studies of anxiety disorders at Stanford University, and is a Certified AKC Evaluator". You can visit Dr. Melanie's website to learn more about what she offers. I highly recommend some of her on demand webinars, I really enjoyed the Neurobiology of Stress and the Neurobiology of (Un)Learning.


In this episode, we discuss the concept of inducing low levels of stress to cultivate resiliency in our dogs. Dr. Uhde explains that exposing dogs to controlled stress in training sessions can help them develop the ability to down-regulate their stress response, leading to increased resilience. We also discuss the role of cues in training and how to set up training sessions to gradually introduce stress.


One very small part of the episode, but a very powerful reminder for my scent detection peeps is the discussion we had on the importance of understanding the direct link between smells, emotions, and behavior in dogs. I mean, we sort of all intuitively know this, right? But how Dr. Melanie describes it really punctuates just how challenging our sport of detection really is, and how much attention we must pay to the emotional state of our dogs.


I had so many takeaways but to summarize, I think the main points for me are the need for patience and empathy especially for our nosework dogs as we can barely understand what they're experiencing when they're searching, setting up shorter training sessions to avoid empty reps, and not avoiding mistakes in training. I hope you get as much out of this episode as I did!


You can check out Dr. Melanie's incredible background and accomplishments on her Canine Decoded website.  She also has a YouTube account under the same name that is definitely worth a follow as she shares so much theory there in a really relatable way.


In this episode we discuss:

09:11 Inducing Stress for Resilience

21:33 Gradual Stress Exposure for Resilience

27:55 Managing Stress in Scent Detection Training

35:07 Embracing Mistakes: The Key to Learning

41:27 Empty Repetitions: Going Through the Motions

53:05 Be Brave: Trying New Things

01:05:56 Short and Sweet: The Power of Brief Training Sessions

01:08:06 Preparing for the Unexpected: Anticipating Challenges in Training

01:14:42 Coming Soon: Dr. Melanie's Bootcamp for Trainers


Click here to listen on Apple or on Spotify


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dog training, stress, learning, resiliency, scent detection, controlled stress, down-regulate, cues, training sessions, stress triggers, smells, emotions, behavior, memory consolidation, dog training, focus, attention, motivation, empty repetitions, stress, intermittent reinforcement, positive prediction errors, mistakes, patience, shorter training sessions

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