TRAINING WITH HUNTER'S HEART

Since 1999, we’ve trained thousands of teams worldwide, to detect everything from bed bugs to birds, from narcotics to nosework. Our proven protocols show you exactly what to do to develop a clear 2-way system of communication with your dog. We apply the latest research to build the strongest foundation for working dogs, assistance dogs and pets. But what most people notice first is that their dog has fun!

HOW DO YOU LEARN BEST?

Learn how you want, when you want. The majority of our students learn online.  Questions are always welcome and troubleshooting is included, so when you run into roadblocks, we'll help get you back on track ASAP.

If you're in the Calgary area, when you register for in person classes, you'll get access to the online resources too.

After class is done, alumni are invited to our private online discussion group, where you can upload your training videos, get ongoing support and get announcements of new releases and events.  

Photo of a focused dog by Cat Fauvelle

Calgary Classes

In-person classes are located at Barrett Dogsports, with 18+ acres and an indoor scent detection lab. Plus you'll also get access to online lessons (free). 

Email [email protected] to ask about your dog's suitability for classes, or to book a private lesson or seminar. 

Sign Up for In-person Classes

In-person classes include:

  • Canine Good Neighbor classes
  • Tracking and Mantrailing (whether you're a newbie who's just getting started, competing at the advanced level,  or a professional detection team, practices are customized to the unique needs of each dog and handler)
  • Scent detection (the odor is up to you e.g. handler scent, lost articles, shed antlers, nosework competition, medical detection, human remains, wildlife etc.). The levels are Beginner (imprint a new target odor in just 7 days), Intermediate (indications, elevation, interiors and exteriors) Advanced and Pre-trial Preparation (handling challenges and blind searches).
Download Class Descriptions (PDF)

Online Community

After class is finished, alumni can discuss questions, share brags or post a link to your training video for feedback in our private Facebook group.  Problems? Email [email protected]

Online Classes

To purchase an online class, visit our Store. After you purchase an online course, access your course contents in the top menu, under My Library. Get answers to your questions by typing them into the bottom of the lessons inside your course, or on the discussion group. Sorry, courses and support are only available in English at this time. 

Scroll down to learn more. 

 

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7-DAY SCENT CHALLENGE (ONLINE BEGINNER SCENT DETECTION)

Teach your dog to  search for a new scent in just 7 days with our bestselling online course, the 7-Day Scent Challenge. The target odor is up to you, whether you're training for nosework competition, assistance dogs or working dogs with jobs (e.g. search and rescue, lost electronics or bed bugs). The course explains every step in the imprinting process, using food or toy rewards.

Fun is guaranteed, with lessons that are clear and accessible. Handlers with blindness have reported that our online resources are easy to follow and apply. 

The demonstration videos and instructions are effective for dogs of all ages, breeds and abilities, including dogs with reactivity, hearing loss, and neurological impairment. With Hunter's Heart puppies we start training at 5 weeks, when the puppies have adjusted to solid food, but it's never to late to learn. Training is short and errorless learning minimizes errors and accelerates learning.  

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CHOOSE YOUR TARGET ODOR

Most students search for a cocktail of scents used in nosework competition for pet dogs (birch,  anise, clove, wintergreen, pine and cypress). Dogs can learn to detect almost any scent (as long as it's safe), including a handler scented glove or keys, antlers/sheds, truffles, snakeskin, etc.. If you can't decide, we recommend training on a piece of a handler-scented rubber placement. Research shows that once your dog knows how to search, you can add a new target odor, without sacrificing reliability of professional detection. It's up to you!

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SHOW ME - MAXIMIZE INDICATION MOTIVATION (ONLINE INTERMEDIATE SCENT DETECTION)

In our online Show Me course, you'll train a solid indication even spectators will recognize: freeze in a sit/down, and stare with focused attention. You'll learn the secrets of turning indicating into your dog's favorite game, by harnessing natural drives to hunt, chase and play. Food and toy motivated dogs are welcome. This course is also suitable for teams who need help troubleshooting or retraining a solid foundation. We'll set you up for success.

SIGN UP

CANINE GOOD NEIGHBOUR (CGN) - IN PERSON CLASSES

The Canine Good Neighbour Program is a 12-step test that demonstrates a dog handler team has obedience skills and temperament you'd want in your neighbour. Canine Good Neighbours can be counted on to present good manners at home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs.

‚ÄčThe test is non-competitive and allows dog and handler to demonstrate confidence and control in 12 steps. It assesses the handler and dog's relationship, together with the handler's ability to control the dog. Dogs are evaluated on their ability to perform basic exercises as well as their ability to demonstrate good manners in everyday situations.

During CGN tests, teams are not allowed to use food rewards, and only specified gear is allowed (e.g. buckle and martingale collars are allowed but not head halters or pinch collars). 

To pass the CGN test, you must pass all 12 components:

  1. Accepting A Friendly Stranger
  2. Politely Accepts Petting
  3. Appearance and Grooming
  4. Out For A Walk
  5. Walking Through A Crowd
  6. Sit/Down and Stay In Place
  7. Come When Called
  8. Praise/Interaction
  9. Reaction To A Passing Dog
  10. Reaction To Distractions
  11. Supervised Isolation
  12. Walking Through A Door/Gate

Many organizations require passing the CGN test as the first step towards becoming a therapy dog. Learn more below.

ABOUT CARLA SIMON

Dr. Carla Simon, BSc, MD, MBA is the owner and founder of Hunter's Heart. Carla is a professional detection dog trainer who chairs the Working Dog Committee of the Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers. She's a sought-after speaker who was a popular presenter at the World Detector Dog Conference, and drew a sold-out crowd of more than 600 at UBC’s Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Her materials have been translated and utilized by teams around the world, including search and rescue teams and law enforcement. 

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WHAT'S THE SECRET?

How do we train sniffer dogs to search for hours, even when there is no target odor present? The secret is to make training fun, so playing with you is your dog's favorite game. If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong and you need to fix it. We'll show you how. 

We’ve trained sniffer dogs to detect everything from bedbugs to birds, from nosework to medical detection. We’ve worked with diverse breeds, ages, sizes, and temperaments of dogs, including blind and deaf dogs, as well as dogs with physical limitations (like partial paralysis and cleft palate). When you train with us, we’ll show you how to succeed with your dog. Rather than vague advice like “build your relationship”, you’ll follow specific, easy instructions to train your dog.  You’ll get answers to your questions. When you encounter challenges, we’ll help you get back on track ASAP. You’ll avoid the common errors that lead to frustration and disappointment. Are you ready to train faster, easier and funner?

 

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Our dogs are working detection dogs (inspecting for bed bugs and searching for human remains). In addition to scent detection, hunting, and field titles, our Brittanys have won multi Elite High in Trials (UKC Nosework), gold at AAC Regional Agility Championships, Best of Breed at the National Brittany Specialty, and achieved numerous top 5 national rankings in agility, conformation and obedience. 

OUR APPROACH

We start by identifying the rewards that motivate your unique dog (e.g. food, toys, praise or games). Our protocols break complex behaviors down into small, easy to achieve baby steps. We make it so easy that it is virtually impossible to fail (using errorless learning). We use positive reinforcement that effectively communicates what you want and what you don't. 

Learn more in Carla's "Weak Links in the Canine Scent Detection Behavior Chain" peer reviewed article in the IAABC Journal, which includes demonstration videos with our sniffer dogs and students.

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WHAT WE OFFER

When you want a well behaved dog, but you don't know what the right choices are, it can be stressful. You can count on Hunter's Heart to help train your canine partner, by applying the latest scientific research on how dogs learn and how best to teach them, using proven, positive, effective protocols. Hunter's Heart is known for confident, bombproof, working dogs with laser focus. We consistently train dogs who love their jobs. 

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You Don't Need to Reinvent the Wheel

You don't need to reinvent the wheel. We've been sniffing since 1999 and our passion is helping students succeed in reaching their goals. Our methods have already worked for thousands of teams. We make it easy to concentrate on having fun training your dog. 

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Evidence-Based Approach

There is so much misinformation on the Internet, sometimes it can feel overwhelming to try and figure out your next step. We'll show you exactly how to apply the latest research, to train smarter and succeed faster, with fewer errors, and less frustration. 

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Questions?

We're here to help and questions are always welcome. We'd rather prevent problems than go through the frustration of retraining problem behaviors. But when challenges arise, we'll help get you back on track ASAP. 

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Personalized Instruction

Our online courses aren't just documents to read. We're here to support your learning. Type your questions into the bottom of any lesson. Submit videos of your training sessions for feedback. Individual advice from instuctors and troubleshooting are included in the price. 

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International Community

Talk about training on our private discussion group, with like-minded students all around the world, ranging from from truffle hunting teams in Italy to explosives detection teams in Brazil. Discuss new research articles. Share your accomplishments and success stories. What did you learn from your searches, competitions, deployments and tests? Let's keep learning together. 

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ASK US ABOUT A PRIVATE LESSON OR SEMINAR
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LEARN ABOUT SERVICE DOG ASSESSMENTS IN ALBERTA

WE CAN HELP

Many families that could benefit from service dogs lack the resources to purchase a fully trained service dog, and we're increasingly being asked to help train owner handled sniffer dogs and service dogs.

At this time, Hunter's Heart has no puppies or fully trained detection dogs for sale. We aren't an approved service dog institution, but we have helped owner-trained detection and service dogs to complete their training. We offer private and small group lessons to help prepare your owner-trained service dog candidate throughout the learning and assessment process:

  • Selecting the best puppy from a litter, based on the specific skills and work they will perform
  • Socializing your puppy
  • Puppy raising, including field trips to diverse environments
  • Introducing target odor to your sniffer dog
  • Foundation obedience training
  • Passing the CGN test (required for many therapy dogs and a good preliminary step for service dog training)
  • Advanced obedience training, including how to gradually reduce food rewards
  • Indication training, troubleshooting and generalization for sniffer dogs
  • Preparing for testing and handling for certifications.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SERVICE DOGS AND THERAPY DOGS?

Certified service dog teams are afforded public access to public places where other dogs cannot go, such as restaurants and retail stores. 

A service dog is trained to meet the unique needs of one specific owner. For example, if the owner is unable to press the button at the automatic doors of a mall, hotel or public place, the service dog can be trained to press the button with their paws. This is only one example of a "mitigating task". Others include detecting seizures or diabetic hypoglycemia, preventing a child from wandering, or easing anxiety by applying pressure. For example, click here to see some examples of autism service dogs, trained by BC & Alberta Guide Dogs. 

Therapy dogs are not granted public access to public places. Instead of being trained to help a specific owner with mitigating tasks, therapy dogs provide comfort to people they visit e.g. in assisted living environments, airports and shelters for domestic violence. For example, if you're interested in volunteering with your therapy dog, check out PALS (Pet Access League Society)

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