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Old 08-29-2011, 11:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Time to call it quits?

So, how do you know when your working dog prospect just isn't going to make it?

We got Josh when he was 8 weeks old, he has working dogs on his fathers side, so we were hoping. He's got good food drive, tug and prey drive, he seems to have developed a case of nerves lately. My husband went to a scent training seminar with him a couple of week-ends ago and he was so discouraged, Josh was the most nervy dog there. He just turned 1, should you know by now who's going to make and who won't? He still has great focus and he has tracked with my husband up to 600 yards. Can you build nerve or is it all just hopeless.

I'm wondering too if this isn't a temporary thing, I've read about a fear period that comes sometime about now. Also we've had some change in our family recently, we adopted a female GSD, we didn't plan on doing it now, she was in a bad situation (was scheduled to be PTS the day she was pulled), we fostered her for a week for the rescue and she got along with Josh so well we decided to keep her. She is spayed and a little younger than Josh, not sure what effect that would have on his nerve though.

Truthfully my husband will be disappointed if he doesn't get to be a K9 officer but not enough to give Josh up, we've had him since the beginning and we'll be keeping him till the end. Same with Jenna, she's here to stay.
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Old 08-30-2011, 06:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Afraid that you cannot build nerve and simple changes should really not impact the nerve base (like bringing in a new dog). If he was formerly bold and absolutely nothing rattled him, I would take him to a vet make sure there are no issues like vision -hearing - thyroid etc.

If he was always a bit on the spooky side (startled easily, had to be made comfortable with new things, approached with a bit of timidity and not boldness), you can't fix that. You can do a lot of socializing and make him comfortable around things that bother him as a pet, but in work (police, detection, SAR, etc) the strange and unexpected IS the norm and you can't train for that.

I believe most departments buy older dogs (under 2) so that all of the selection criteria are met. Even I, as a SAR handler, am looking at prospects over 6 months because puppies are such a gamble.
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Old 08-30-2011, 08:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for your reply Nancy! See this is why we're confused, he hasn't been nervy before. He's not charging things barking and lunging at every new thing but he does approach things with confidence. Hubby took him to a golf course not long ago (first time there) and he was totally unaffected, with the noise, clubs being raised and coming down really fast, golf carts whizzing around him, he totally didn't care. They went to the seminar and they wanted him to get up on a table and he was shaking, not sure if it's something about being indoors, was he just having a bad day? Who knows. Ron has permission to go into some new buildings at our church, he's going to take him on Friday and see if it's an ongoing thing.

Our new dog Jenna may have some working potential as well, she was surrendered because she "got too big". She had her AKC papers with her, we filed them and got her pedigree, on her mother's side she has generations of Czech and DDR dogs, apparently her other owner wanted a docile little house shepherd. She has a LOT of prey and ball drive and she loves her food. She approaches things with confidence as well, but she is leash reactive to other dogs, we're working on that now.

Not sure where to go from here, I think the whole K9 officer role is changing as well. We don't need a bite dog (the dept already has 3 neurotic mals that do that) we wanted a tracking/narcotics dog that can work in the schools.
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Old 08-30-2011, 09:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I would get him to a vet first. Check his thyroid. Nerve issues will still show up in the schools because those slick very shiny floors can be really give a number to some dogs--it is hard on them visually.

Now this is where I would drop off and you listen to Renee and David. They are LE and they both work drug dogs (as well as other things LE do). I am a SAR handler and it is not my bailiwyck (we just need solid nerve too)
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Old 08-31-2011, 10:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If he was fine before, then I would give him a few months. Sometimes around 10-12 months, young dogs will go through some funky stages--barking at trashcans, alerting at ceiling fans, etc. I've had dogs who do this and then are totally over it a month or two later.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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should you know by now who's going to make and who won't? He still has great focus and he has tracked with my husband up to 600 yards. Can you build nerve or is it all just hopeless.

*****************************

I am going to be blunt. The dog is a washout. Dear, I have seen this for well over 20 years. If he wants a dog for police work,he needs to buy a dog with the drive and temperament for it. wasting food,time and money on a dog that will never make it. The dog folded up at the seminar because he was in a strange environment. That is where we evaluate dogs for police work. Test them everywhere. Also, the dog needs over the top retrieve/hunt drive for scent work. I mean the dog has to be willing to search all day for a ball thrown and/hidden where the dog cannot see it and not be distracted by anything. period. I can explain how to test for that. It is very difficult to find dogs for police work.
where are you in Texas? You really need to have a police k9 trainer evaluate the dogs before he wastes any more time.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I guess I don't understand how the dept is allowing him to go out and buy his own dogs as puppies to try to make into police dept dogs? Usually depts have contacts they use and are getting young adults for this??
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I am certain there is a lot of variation. I DO know police officers who brought their own personal dog into the program and are working them as K9s. These are not people I know on the internet, but actual people I know face to face...

Just saying that not all departments have the resources to buy proper prospects or the creativity to scrounge for them using other means.
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yes there are those who purchase their own dogs. I formed the k9 unit for the third largest sheriff's dept in Texas over 20 years ago and we bought our own dogs, they still do. We wanted to own our own even though the agency has plenty funding. However we purchased the same quality. A full time police service dog must have the proper drive and temperament to be a proficient addition to the agency or they are better off without one
Also we do not buy pups. We buy young adults whose drive and temperament can be thoroughly evaluated as well as hips.
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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We have been screening our team prospects using, in part, the FEMA screening test available on Disaster Dog Training. Those of us on 2nd and 3rd dogs usually wind up just going with a suitable young adult (which costs more than a puppy but in the scope of things is worth it.....)

It is a link on the right sidebar. Now that is for SAR work NOT police work so I am sure there is more that needs to be added there but it does have tests for prey and hunt drive and nerve strength - but not for fight drive.

With young puppies most of what we recommend is extensive socialization, maybe some tracking, until they get old enough to better evaluate.
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