Have I ruined my pup for SAR - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Question Have I ruined my pup for SAR

I recently purchased a beautiful black sable working line GSD. This is my first one. Prior to this I have dealt primarily with Labs and Boston Terriers. I purchased the GSD for purposes of deterring trespassers from our lake front property. Because we often have family (8yr and 4 yr old grandchildren) and friends I wanted a dog that would be protective but also good with family. After several conversations and research I went with the GSD. I understand that GSDs need a job so I pursued getting a working line (she is medium drive with very sweet personality) in hopes to get her trained in SAR particularly air scent live find. I also have a 4 year old yellow lab and 2 part time Boston Terriers. She has entered into our family with the dogs establishing their hierarchy of dominance and she is submissive to all 3. She loves playing with my lab and vice versa. I just watched a video on the Leerburg website on raising a working puppy and they indicate that the pup should not interact with any other dog so they do not come to find that they can get enjoyment from them as well as me. Also they indicated I should be the only one to feed, play, walk etc..... My girl Anika is now 12 weeks old and I picked her up when she was 8 weeks. She has gone to 3 weeks of puppy class and is a fast learner. I'm afraid that since I have introduced her to my other dogs and have treated her more like a family pet I cannot train her in SAR. I don't think I want her to be detached to people or my family and pets. She is definitely attached to me since I am the primary one who works with her. I suppose my question is - Can you have a SAR or working dog that also is in contact with your family and family pets? If not - what kind of job would keep them happy and social and still make a good family member without the fear of them becoming aggressive due to boredom. Any thoughts on this would be very helpful. We do not have a local SAR K9 unit where I am; however, am working on a certification in SAR for myself. Maybe I should take up hiking or something else with her.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 04:55 PM
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I suggest you ask the SAR experts in the SAR forum Search & Rescue - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 05:06 PM
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I'll defer to the SAR experts, but it's highly unlikely that at 12wks your puppy is "ruined" for anything!

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 05:10 PM
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I know many SAR dogs that live in the house, as part of the family.

I would be more concerned about trying to teach and certify a dog by yourself if you've never trained in SAR before. SAR is a commitment. It's literally life and death.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 05:20 PM
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I wouldn’t worry about it. I know sar dogs who live with the family and other dogs. Don’t worry and just try your best and get into contact with the local SAR.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 05:55 PM
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If SAR isn't your passion, there are many many MANY other options for you to keep Anika happy. Very few (compared to how many exist) working line dogs are actually working dog. Having a "job" can refer to a variety of activities - advanced training classes, agility, hiking, nosework... SAR can be time consuming, expensive, stressful, heartbreaking, not to mention extremely difficult w/o a local network and support.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 05:58 PM
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Ok so first off, I believe what Leerburg and co mean is not for the dog not to have any interaction with other animals but instead of going out of your way to socialize your pup with other dogs (in lets say a dog park) or other people (taking the pup out for it to be petted) they instead work on engagement in those areas. So it learns that in those areas (walking outside) the pups focus should be on you. Inside and playing in your yard can be different scenarios for the dog altogether.

That means just show your pup you're the best and most fun thing around whereever you go. As long as you keep working on that as your foundation I think you should be fine. Also from what I have read dogs that train in SAR are preferred to be on the friendlier side because the work heavily focuses on people and interaction with them. But I might be wrong in regards to that and agree with the other posters that you should ask in the SAR specific forum for a more detailed response.

I looked into getting into SAR a while ago and from what I know its pretty difficult to get into it because many places also require the handler to be proficient when it comes to navigation, physically fit and adept at using the respective equipment. + A first aid course I believe? That might be different in different places though.

But I think the best you can probably do to find out what it takes in your area is to find out about your local SAR group and try to volunteer with them as someone "to be found". I'm sure the people there will be better able to tell you what you should be doing with your pup to give it the best start.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 06:10 PM
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"I purchased the GSD for purposes of deterring trespassers from our lake front property.

and this
"pursued getting a working line (she is medium drive with very sweet personality) in hopes to get her trained in SAR particularly air scent live find."

are at odds.

you are interested in SAR as an outlet for the dog's need to work ? -- wrong motiviation.

As fodder says there are many more outlets for the dogs talent , if it has "it" for SAR.

SAR is serious . Potentially with lives at stake . SAR requires great commitment and dedication
and being available for training and call outs --- you need to be totally invested and reliable.
You also need to be prepared to be told that you don't qualify (fitness tests, mapping skills etc)
or that your dog lacks motivation , drive , or interest and so is washed (declined) .

"She has gone to 3 weeks of puppy class"
- what at 12 weeks of age and a short few weeks , do these classes offer ?
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 06:21 PM
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First, no, you have not ruined the your dog for SAR.. Don't worry.

More importantly is what Carmspack brought up, and that is the IMMENSE dedication and work that goes into being a K9 handler for SAR. This is not to dissuade you, but to definitely be real and upfront. If it is an 'outlet' for the dog, then go with nose work, IPO, tracking, herding, rally or some other type of sport/work. SAR requires 1,000's of hours for human and K9 just to be mission ready, let alone to maintain and improve on those skills, which should be of utmost importance as lives are at stake.

Now, if you are aware of this and are committed to SAR, then don't worry about the pup interacting with family animals etc. However, if the dog is toy driven, I would use that time to use the toy for educational purposes rather than 'burning' the reward of the toy on frivolity. There are many many exercises that you can begin to build the hunt drive and focus the pup will need for SAR in fun short games, at home.

Hope this helps... (yes, I am a SAR volunteer with two dogs certified, in trailing, article and HRD land and water
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-02-2017, 01:15 PM
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What has been said about SAR is very good. It's really tough to get into a group especially as a newcomer.

So what can you do to either prepare or just train. As noted there are other tracking and nose work things you can do to give the dog some work. I'll describe one here.

I worked really hard at SCH tracking. Just learning to train or direct the dog was very time consuming. There is lots of poor information floating around about dogs nose ability. The first thing to know is that you are dealing with a very strong and important instinct within the dog. Some dogs are much better than others even within a breed. The instinct is either there or not as far as you being able to direct it. You can't instill it but you can direct it. You must learn how the dog uses his nose and just How sensitive it is. There are lots of numbers around but it's not really necessary to be a reference for this. Just understand that the dogs nose is more sensitive than you can Imagine. Once the dog gets the idea of what you want him to do, he will rarely fail.

I went to a seminar early on in my training where a person unknown to the dog laid a track on a football size field leaving several articles never sniffed by the dog only briefly held by the track layer. This was early in the morning. Some time after the track was laid the moderator had all of us 50 or so walk as a group up and down the field then randomly walk around the field. We had lunch and about mid afternoon he got his dog and tracking equipment. The starting point was not marked. The dog was allowed to sniff the track layer's wallet for a few seconds. Not stuffed in his nose like the movies. Just held for the dog to sniff. Then the handler took the dog to begin finding the start of the track. He picked it up long before the start onto the field. The moderator only knew the track started on one side of the field. The dog simply put his nose down to the ground and calmly worked the track step by step. He found each article and properly indicated each article. He even navigated where the track layer had walked in a circle crossing the main track. It was truely impressive.

I tracked nearly every day with my SCH. Dog. Sometimes in pouring rain, sometimes in blistering heat even in a snow storm. I would often lay tracks in the morning on the way to work then run them in the evening after work. It took over two years to get this far. Then we began pavement, rock quarry, crossing roads, crossing streams, building searches, and corn fields. I enjoyed it even the frustrating times when we only did short training tracks and the failed tracks. Trying to figure out what went wrong and how to correct it. My dogs never did very well on narc stuff or area searches. Some dogs are very good at this and not do good at open field tracking. It's a very challenging area to work your dog. The hardest part was not the tracking but doing it with " style" the SCH sport required. This took some things from obedience training and applied them to tracking. The dog had to use his nose and brain at the same time.

So if you are going to get into scent work be prepared to work hard and long. The dog will know how his nose works, you won't. You will have to direct him to the correct scent even when you don't really know it. Learning to mark tracks by observing and noting natural objects is vital to directing the dog especially early on. It can be really miserable when the bugs are out and it's blistering hot. If you are in an event you don't get to choose the time of day or conditions.

I'm not trying to discourage you but just tell what you can get into.

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