How our Bias for “A” way of searching or training impacts us.

March 18, 2020 2:36 pm


To quote a recent article I read; The law of the instrument, otherwise known as Maslow’s hammer is a cognitive bias that involves an over-reliance on a familiar tool. As Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

In this same article it discussed the development of a mechanised state of mind, or the Einstellung Effect. The Einstellung effect is the negative effect of our previous experiences when solving new problems.
Einstellung refers to our predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner even though better or more appropriate methods of solving the problem exist. (Maslow’s Hammer)

How this applies to dog sports and in particular Scent Work is the fact that we train as if there are absolutes in how we approach searches. There are no Absolutes and nothing about Scent Work is Basic.

Our inability to cope with and adapt to search area realities is the largest hindrance to trial and training success. When our circumstances change, we need to shift our perspective and see the world as “it is” not as it “should be.”

In Scent Work there are so many variables that are out of our control that impact search outcomes. From surfaces, temperatures, odor age, weights or amounts of odor, height and depth of hides, leashes or tools used, age of dog, humidity, and so on. All of these factors effect our search. Additionally each dog team that searches before us, the parking lot interactions, and a million other things can impact our search outcomes.

Developing several ways to train and search allows us to interact with our environment in ways that set our teams up for success. Instead of shying away from training for these variables, we need to embrace them in training to prepare for trial and real world challenges.

Decision making is key and practicing this makes progress.

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