Help with retired bomb dog - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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Help with retired bomb dog

I have posted in other boards, but hope you guys can give me some insight.

A week ago, we brought home an almost 9 year old retired airport bomb dog. My hubby works at airport cargo and knew his handler, who died suddenly in his sleep a couple of months ago.

He is a very big sweetheart, very laid back and great with our 6 kids. He is slowly adjusting, although I'm sure he's still somewhat confused about it all.

The exception to his good behavior is cats. I have two issues.
One is our one year old inside, male cat. We are trying to get the used to each other by putting the cat in a crate, Krok on a leash and then correcting Krok when he shows interest in the cat. Krok is fine as long as the cat is still. Once the cat hisses or moves, Krok goes crazy barking and trying to get to him. He is correctable.....but it's tough. I have no idea if this cat will ever lose enough fear not to hiss and run.....and if he does that, I know Krok will chase.

The other issue is our outside cat. She loves to sit on the deck in plain view of Krok....just sit. As long as Krok is on the leash, he is correctable. I can tell him "leave it" if I see him starting to look that way and easily lead him away. The problem is off leash or if I am in the other room........he will just bark and walk circles around the table.....barking each time he passes the window.

How should I handle the cat situations? Since his handler is gone, I have limited information.....but I'm guessing he did NOT have a cat!

Also.....any tips or insight into helping him transition from working dog to family dog? We are training with him throughout the day (we home school...there is always someone here) so he doesn't lose his commands. We also take him for walks, we play fetch.....he loves to catch snowballs.
There are always plenty of kids around to love on him.

How much exercise does an almost 9 year old dog need? Does he need more mental stimulation....being a working dog?

So many questions! But I appreciate any insight you can give. He really is very well trained and well behaved in almost every area. He'll sit/stay while we eat dinner, walk on a leash beautifully, etc. But the cats.........oh my.

Dee
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 05:04 AM
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Being a working dog, he was selected because of a very high prey drive. This can, often times, translate into prey behavior with such things and cats. I think at his age, it would be difficult to get the dog totally desensitized. I would think though, since it was a working dog, the handler had been able to control it through verbal instructions to keep the dog focused while working. I would concentrate my efforts on the dog, the cat should know enough to stay away from the dog and with time, might even begin ignore the dog. As for exercise. The dog is used to working for a living. Retirement, to the extent of no stimulating exercises, can come very tough for the dog. Play ball with it, play some games until the dog is starting to tire, he'll rest a lot easier.

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 07:25 AM
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I would think more mental stimulation...give him a job to do.

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 08:35 AM
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He should have had tracking training as well. You can play hide'n'seek with his toys in the backyard. Once he tracks & finds the toy/ball, praise & play a bit with it then do it again. Or hide it between family members send them to various spots & have him find the member with the toy. Same reward, praise & play. I did this with my dog in AFG in our down time when we weren't on patrols. He's working class so if he doesn't have some stimulation then he will get bored.

And I would say exercise for him will have to be based on his energy level, high energy lots of exercise; low energy, less.

Not sure how to help you on his prey drive though. =/


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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 09:14 AM
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Do you know what language he was trained in? Maybe if you found the word he's accustomed to (for "leave it") it would make things easier.
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys!

Would tracking training be part of TSA bomb dog training? I didn't think of hide and seek....but it's a great idea. Right now I tell him, "Where's your ball, go get your ball!" And he will go get it for me to play fetch with him. It's actually a kong.....could we hide it and then do that? Could you walk me through hide and seek with these guys?

llambardo, do you have any more good games to play with him. I'll google it, too......but I appreciate your special insight into working dogs.

So the cat. I'm hearing from you guys this might not change all that much. Being a trained dog, he is great on leash. Very correctable. But he's not on leash in the house.......(unless we're working with him on something) and I don't know if I want to live in fear of him one day catching the family cat and killing him in front of my four year old.

Plus I know the cat is terrified. Right now he's in the basement (my two sons have rooms down there) and when I go down to play with him, he flinches at every footstep he hears overhead. I keep trying to find a way to make it work, but I'm thinking it might be more fair to the cat to find a better home with no big dogs for him.

I caught a lot of crap on the main boards for mentioning re-homing him, but I think you guys know the working class dog mentality pretty well.

I think the fact that he barks and paces at my outside cat, who is just sitting there minding his own business......doesn't say much for how he'd react to my inside cat who hisses, arches his back, and runs.

DH is going to talk to the other handlers at work to see what they suggest. I know one just had a dog retire, so she might know some tricks too. Any help is appreciated!

Dee
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 09:50 AM
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well - I have dogs with alot of prey drive...titled dogs, young dogs, pups....and I have cats....correction - I have a cat and Csabre has a cat....Working dogs CAN live with cats....but the cat must be confident around the dog....When Csabre and Giza play, I have seen Giza's head in Csabre's mouth....I am not comfortable with that! But Giza is NOT AFRAID of Csabre, and Csabre does not hurt her...

Not saying every dog is going to have that much self control with a cat - but it is NOT black and white that a high prey working dog cannot co-exist with a cat...the Bengal kitten, Giza, curls up and sleeps with my dogs, she walks or hops over them, she winds around their legs - the difference is that the cat is totally comfortable with the dogs....

Perhaps this particular cat is NOT a good fit with the dogs...but it is an individual cat thing - not a general 'have working dog - no cats'.....I personally will not allow a dog to terrorize a cat, and if a dog is that obsessed with cats that I cannot change it, he is going to a home with no cats.

I feel bad for the cat - I hope you can rehome him - putting a cat in most shelters is pretty much a death sentence....

Lee

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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfstraum View Post
well - I have dogs with alot of prey drive...titled dogs, young dogs, pups....and I have cats....correction - I have a cat and Csabre has a cat....Working dogs CAN live with cats....but the cat must be confident around the dog....When Csabre and Giza play, I have seen Giza's head in Csabre's mouth....I am not comfortable with that! But Giza is NOT AFRAID of Csabre, and Csabre does not hurt her...

Not saying every dog is going to have that much self control with a cat - but it is NOT black and white that a high prey working dog cannot co-exist with a cat...the Bengal kitten, Giza, curls up and sleeps with my dogs, she walks or hops over them, she winds around their legs - the difference is that the cat is totally comfortable with the dogs....

Perhaps this particular cat is NOT a good fit with the dogs...but it is an individual cat thing - not a general 'have working dog - no cats'.....I personally will not allow a dog to terrorize a cat, and if a dog is that obsessed with cats that I cannot change it, he is going to a home with no cats.

I feel bad for the cat - I hope you can rehome him - putting a cat in most shelters is pretty much a death sentence....

Lee
No worries....I would never put the kitty in a shelter. There aren't any in my rural area, anyway. And all the volunteer place near here is always full. If I called and said I had a one year old cat, they'd laugh. They're not taking any new anything.

I'll only re-home the cat if I can find a good one. He lives in the basement with my two teens right now and it works for short term.

I don't know if the cat will ever change.......at the moment, he is scared out of his wits. I hate to see that.
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 11:13 AM
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Here's another idea I have. I'm going to post it in this forum, because I'm not a K9 handler, so if I'm wrong then someone who knows better can say so. It's my understanding that working K9s are always having their training reinforced through various exercises. So, could you ask one of the handlers that worked with Krok's partner to come to your home and help with "Leave it" command? I'm thinking that maybe the correction that you're giving with the leash isn't the correction that he's used to? This way it can be clearly communicated to him, in a way he understands?
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 11:30 AM
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This could be a good use for an electric training collar.
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