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Old 06-06-2011, 10:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Training "neutrality" in dogs

Hi! I'm wondering if you have any tips for us.

We are hoping our dog Josh (10 mo old on Friday) will do tracking/SAR and narcotics with our county sheriffs dept. We were told when he was a puppy not to enroll him in puppy kindergarten because he didn't need to have his confidence squashed by other more dominant puppies. So we didn't enroll him in a class. He has had obedience training and done some agility in a class with a couple other dogs. When we walk we come across quite a few dogs in our neighborhood, generally he doesn't respond unless the other dog is acting dominant towards him. Then the hackles come up and a lot of barking. He is a pretty confident dog, he was the alpha male of his litter and has great food, prey and tug drive.

He seems so awkward when meeting other dogs, like he doesn't know what to do. Is this the way it has to be if he's going to be a working dog?
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Josh (GSD)- 8/10/10
Daisy (ragdoll cat) 10 yrs old
Romeo (ragdoll cat) 9 yrs old
Caspurr (ragdoll/snowshoe mix) 8 yrs old

Last edited by Josh's mom; 06-06-2011 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sorry, clarifying here:

When I say "he doesn't know what to do" I mean he just stands there, staring at the other dog, if the other dog is dominant then there's barking, if the other dog comes up and tries to sniff him he either stands there or backs away, he doesn't sniff bums or anything, in agility class he did sniff the places where the other dogs were sitting after they moved but that's it.
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Josh (GSD)- 8/10/10
Daisy (ragdoll cat) 10 yrs old
Romeo (ragdoll cat) 9 yrs old
Caspurr (ragdoll/snowshoe mix) 8 yrs old
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What you do when he is zoning is important.
You should be redirecting him to a tug or toy, or you so he won't worry or react. And you shouldn't feel any tension or anxiety as that will go down the leash.
If a dog gets in his space and he is neutral, that would be the best scenario. Sounds like he is fine, normal and of good nerve from your second post. As he matures, he may show a bit of authority with a growl to let the other dog(male) understand he is too close for comfort. I would also think this is normal and don't over-correct for it.
I won't comment on the SAR/Narcotics future, but all the dogs I know that are involved in this are just neutral to other dogs, and know the handler is who they need to focus on, not the distraction. And the handler doesn't allow their dog to interact with others.
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:06 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm not exactly sure what you mean about having his "confidence squashed". Puppies have to be puppies to turn into dogs. The good SAR or detector dog of any type, has to be a well rounded, well socialized, confident dog. In SAR, dog aggression is a disqualifier, plain and simple. Dog aggression is not as critical in detector work, unless it's so severe it's distracting while working. I'm not so sure I'd want to mix a drug detector with a SAR dog anyway. I just don't think it's smart deployment.

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Old 06-07-2011, 11:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree with David on NOT mixing those two disciplines. Particularly with clandestine meth labs, shake and bake, and marijuana. Looking for a lost person gets you on property you may need a warrant to get onto to look for drugs - if a SAR handler sees it we are told to back out and notify the authorities but if you have a dog TRAINED for it, I could see where that could get real dicey.

I think the SAR dogs needs to be comfortable with meet and greet and butt sniffing. And other dogs need to teach them how to behave around dogs.

You just don' want them seeing other dogs as puppy-playmates (your dog is going through and awkward age now, too). My adult male does not PLAY with other dogs. He will play with me alongside them offlead. We still do offlead obedience around other dogs. We still meet them. He is so good we can use him as a nuetral dog in temperament evaluations. I have never seen his hackles go up around another dog - even threatening dogs. (He even got nipped on the nose by a yappy dog on a flexi lead the other day and ignored that)
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:16 AM   #6 (permalink)
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"hackles raised" does not sound like a confident dog to me. It's about socialization. Meaning environmental socialization! Ideally you want your puppy to engage with you and not give a second thought to whatever else is going on. Puppy class is okay for this depending on how you approach it. You just have to be sure other owners are not going to let their puppies crawl all over you and your dog. Your dog needs you to be "super fun time" not the other puppies or people. And I'm with Mr. Frost. Focus on one thing.
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Old 06-08-2011, 10:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks so much for all your opinions!

Right now we're just working on tracking with Josh. he can't do any narcotics training till after he turns 1. Our sheriffs dept has only 1 tracking/narcotics dog (a GSD), and 4 bite dogs (Mals). My husband hopes to fill in with another tracker and narcotics dog for the schools. Most of the SAR dogs in this area are only SAR and not specifically associated with the police dept. I was thinking of SAR as looking for lost kids and old people but I guess that's still classified as tracking.

We're planning to continue with tracking lessons (which he enjoys and seems to have a talent for), and see later if he can do narcotics. I can't do tracking with him but I'll continue with his obedience. I guess we'll see where we end up.

If you have any pointers for raising a working K9 through those fun "teen years" I'll be happy to listen
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Josh (GSD)- 8/10/10
Daisy (ragdoll cat) 10 yrs old
Romeo (ragdoll cat) 9 yrs old
Caspurr (ragdoll/snowshoe mix) 8 yrs old

Last edited by Josh's mom; 06-08-2011 at 10:20 PM. Reason: add info
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