Serendipitous – definition – to come upon by accident.
I have found over the years, that a lot of my best insights into training have come about by accident, and are therefore classified as "serendipitous." Here is an example…..
I am sitting in a chair out front of my building, one of the police K9 handlers comes around a car, and his dog sees me and the dog is in that moment of conflict between lighting up on me and not……the handler immediately verbally corrects the dog, making him less likely to aggress on me or any other passive person. I think it is important, obviously, to let our new handlers know how to recognize those moments of serendipitous training that occur all the time, so that their dogs are more likely to give them the responses they want, even when they come outside of structured training, or at least to take a lesson from these situations and set them up as training.
Another example: We teach our detection handlers to make a clear context for a narcotics sniff. The dog usually comes to the search area, is made to sit, and then started with an initial presentation…..but how many times does a handler walk to the area, close enough for the dog to already be in odor at the start, and the handler corrects the dog into the sit, away from following his nose dorectly to the odor he already got a whiff of??
If handlers are aware of these serendipitous moments, we can prepare them for these accidental gems, to be on the lookout for them, when the dog comes upon it on his own, and his head is already engaged without the handler telling him what is to come…..