We do the gun fire testing differently, I do not encourage the dog, nor do I allow the dog to have any toys or any stimulation prior. The gun going off is a surprise to the dog. We use a 38 caliber blank and a real gun. It is loud and we watch the reaction while the dog is out walking or having just peed on a tree
. It is the first test that we do and really needs to be the first test to get a proper reaction.
Originally Posted by MineAreWorkingline
Can you explain the importance of the bolded please?
Too many people do the gunfire test after the dog has been stimulated and in "drive." This can greatly effect the outcome of the test and the dog's reaction. Even something simple like giving a dog a tennis ball or kong will have an effect on the test. I want the dog to be just walking around naturally, sniffing and exploring his environment, nice and relaxed. I want the gun fire to be a surprise and then I see the true reaction. The ideal reaction is to be alert, aware, look in the direction of the sound but not be phased or concerned.
The biggest thing that I have to watch are the overly aggressive dogs that react violently to the gunfire. They may bite the handler, slip the leash or break free to get to the source of the gunfire. Which is usually me. I generally have a couple of other guys with me, including the handler we are testing dogs for. The potential handler holds the leash, in case the dog comes up the leash. The other handler with me fires the gun, in case the dog gets loose. That way I am not the one getting bit.
I've been bitten many times testing dogs and now I want to share that experience with the new guys. An overly aggressive reaction, while not ideal is not necessarily a fail. A skittish, startled or nervous reaction is a DQ for me and I stop the testing and move on to the next dog. That is another reason it is first, we can rule out some dogs real quickly and move on.
I go to various vendors to test dogs and some of the guys at the new vendors don't know me and I don't say too much. I ask about the dogs, I ask what they think of the dogs they have and that gives me a good read on the person. I tell them what I am looking for and ask to see their "best" dogs and what they think will work based on what I have told them. After comparing what I see, to what I have been told about the dogs I get a really good read on the experience level and honesty of the vendor. The evaluation is as much about a new vendor as it is about the dogs.
I realize that these guys are there to sell me dogs and some are pretty good at it. I have had guys bring out dogs with a toy, offer me the dog's favorite tennis ball, etc. They offer to handle the dog for me while I test it in bite work and I can see the subtle things they do to make the dog look better or more impressive. They will pump the dog up before bringing it out. I just take my time and let the dog relax. Then I start with my tests, the beginning is me just walking up and petting the dog and watching it's reaction. That is where you might get bit and I like fairly social dogs. Then the dog goes for a walk and we begin with the gunfire.
The next test is a tossed rolled up towel, NOT a bonker
but a towel used as a toy to chase, hunt and retrieve. Most of these young dogs have not seen a towel as a toy and it is what we use to reward the dogs in detection work. The slick vendors always try to give me a tennis to use, I just smile and say I'm good with a towel.