Question about police tracking - Page 3 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #21 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Hineni7 View Post
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I think alot of confusion comes from the difference between tracking and trailing.. Tracking is very close to actual track if not on top of it.. Trailing is recognized the dog can use whatever resources he needs to find the person, be it air or ground scent... My job as a SAR handler is to find that person and helpy dog however they find the strongest source of scent..
I do understand the distinction but some dogs are more prone to work the fringe than the area of strongest scent and those working in the fringe are more likely to loose the trail. Now how do we know they are on the fringe. I am going to have to take the word of a number of bloodhound handlers I have hid for.

Through training and you mentioned RCMP (TTD, no?) you still focus on your dog working the strongest human scent and everything I understand is that unless there are conditions such as burn off in a field, rain, etc., the strongest scent is typically close to the footfall track (I gather from countless observations) and you want in early training to set up low wind early day scenarios where the track and trail are close so you know your dog is working strongest odor..

Yes it can leave the track. We had someone dinged once on a certification test because the subject crossed the powerline clearcut and the trail was worked at 2pm. Dog lost odor, handler boxed the area in the shade and correctly recovered the trail but got hit for getting too far off the track.

TTD high speed and reading a negative and casting to recover the trail is the first skill the handler (and their flankers!) really needs to master.

So many approaches that vary widely, RCMP, Kocher, Schettler, Johnson, that I know of.

Nancy



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post #22 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 10:25 AM
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You bring up some good points Nancy and I am enjoying our conversation Because I do everything off my phone, I will just make points on comments rather than trying to copy and paste, answer, copy and paste, answer, etc...

FRINGE SCENT: yes, it definitely seems like some dogs, often those that come from air scent, or are natural air scent erst tend to ride the 'fringe', or what we consider to be fringe.. But, and this is the key, imho, how do we know that it is fringe? Maybe at that point in time it is the strongest source of scent.. Wind currents run low too, terrain features might 'bump' the scent up, over, down, however.. We have no way of knowing for sure.. I guess if 10 dogs were run over same trail at same time of day, same day, and their trails recorded so one could see the variants between dogs an average might be gathered... IF we know the dogs are following the human scent and not the dogs trail before... Really hard to know for sure..

For me, the proof is in the find and subsequent debrief.. If my dog(s) are finding the subjects and running mostly parallel to the trail, I know they aren't 'air scenting' in the typical grid or zigzag, figure 8,etc pattern, they are following the trail using the strongest source of scent for them... Most of the time, they are pretty close to the track, but Hills, ravines, rivers, dense forest and open plains, blogs, cars, homes, asphalt and concrete all make a huge difference how scent blows and lands..

For most K9 handler's, the visual of a smoke bomb is used to show how scent blows and to use the wind to our advantage.. So how can that demonstration be used and then someone be dogmatic about how scent stays in one place?? Yes, there are more dense layers and more sticky components in the volatile mixture we call scent, but no one is certain what part the dogs are 'locking' onto for scent discrimination... We assume, we study, we test and we use anecdotal evidence to conclude but we really don't know.. Or there wouldn't be such debate (just reminding that this is all being said in a friendly and conversational tone.. Text can sound harsh when not intended )

-TOO FAR OFF TRACK DING: honestly, that bothers me immensely! Why? Well, your friend did their job and recovered the track and finished the test.. That is more real world conditions (losing the trail) then a dog staying glued to a track the whole way... I take issue with the fact that we test and train for real life scenarios... To be dinged or failed because one was 'too far' off a trail when they are still working and their dog is in odor, or, they are recovering the trail but still within their allotted time is wrong.. In a real life scenario you don't know where the person is and if your dog finds the person that is all that matters (or get correct DOT)

I have a good friend who was testing on a 12hr aged trail. The night before and all night, they had 30mph winds.. When she got there to test, her dog cast, got correct DOT and trailed a few yards with head pops to the left and towards the road. He suddenly turned left and headed about 30m to his left and up the road about 10m and to a car where he put his paws up and wagged and tried to get in... My friend noticed SAR gear in the back. The evaluators asked what she was going to do and she said she would cast him from here.. She did and the dog caught the exit trail from car to hiding place.. In my mind, a successful test; dog got correct DOT, was working trail but strongest scent pulled dog to fresher trail and a find.. She was failed.. The previous nights conditions were not factored in, nor the fact it was a horse shoe track and one end of the track blended with the other.. Nope, it was a fail..

In my mind, this is one of the biggest problems SAR face: forgetting why we are here, to save lives.. Not be IPO tracking.. Certainly rules should be in place but let the dog work... If correct DOT us gotten, the dog is working trail and not obviously air scenting and griding, and the dog makes the find... That is real world when double blind.. Using all resources to your advantage to save lives... Just my thoughts...

METHODS OF TRAINING : you mentioned RCMP or ttd, kocher, Schettler... TTD and Schettler are my main source of knowledge... They mix well enough (although Schettler doesn't advise running, and I did in the beginning and jog still) and I voraciously read and study scent and others success and failures in trailing... While there are different ways to get same results the results are what we are after: success in finding the lost... If the success and consistency in that success is had, then sweet! I am all for it. There will always be 'new' ways to do something and until we fully understand the mechanics of scent/odor and what the dog follows, debate will always be present (probably even after haha)...
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post #23 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 03:58 PM
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You are right that the objective is to find the person or, at a minimum, for a trailing dog to establish a direction of travel. That is exactly WHY we are here so when a trailing dog goes so far afield as to NOT be able to recover a lost trail then it becomes a less valuable asset. The one who did recover was able to box just like you would box and intersection on an urban trail but would you box an entire city block?

I agree your friend should not have failed-but she should not have passed either because what was being tested was not enough. I have to go out of my way to make sure my little female air scent dog cannot pick up the track of the subject in training because she will trail straight into them. The only trailing she did was early on for scent discrimination training.

A number of years ago a friend set up an elaborate 3 mile long (with all kinds of challenges) 24 hour trail for me. Same thing. She exited about 200 yards from her entrance (she returned to that site by another path the next day) and did not take into account that the wind could change. One head pop and through a creek and over a hill and we had both looked at each other and had a good laugh.

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post #24 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 04:55 PM
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Nancy said : You are right that the objective is to find the person or, at a minimum, for a trailing dog to establish a direction of travel. That is exactly WHY we are here so when a trailing dog goes so far afield as to NOT be able to recover a lost trail then it becomes a less valuable asset. The one who did recover was able to box just like you would box and intersection on an urban trail but would you box an entire city block?

If it was necessary, yes... Scent does tricky things ESPECIALLY in urban work.. However, as the dog handler it is my job to read the nuances and body language of my dog. Those changes can often tell me where the dog got 'lost' on the trail. I would go back to where I knew my dog had odor and recast and see if they can pick up odor from there. If I have a flanker I am telling them to mark way points where I note indications or small alerts.. Many may never be used, but on tricky trails it is important to know what your dog is telling you...

I'm not arguing for the sloppy dog or lazy dog handler who makes an air scenting dog look like a trailing dog... As a trailing dog handler I have run well over 600 different trails with my dogs.. I vary aging, distance, location, subjects, starts, negatives etc.. As I said before, most trails are run pretty close to the track laid, but definitely not all. Certain nuances are observed and when different dogs do similar things I am confident in my assessment of what could be happening...

For me, while I am strict about how trails are laid, so air scenting isn't likely, during training, I am also 100% happy if my dog on a double blind (and my subject did a horse shoe trail or something similar where once DOT is established and trail begun dog can air scent to end spot) uses all its resources and goes to the 'freshest scent' and find my subject.. That is their job and I would be a fool to stop them and tell them "no no doggie, follow the old trail, we only find our subjects after running the whole trail."

Now, the subject... That is another matter. While happy with my dog doing their job I will be quite ticked off at the subject (we are talking trail layers who know better, not some newbie who has no clue) for laying a bone head trail because I want my dogs to practice trailing, not air scenting...

I've had this very scenario happen which of course blew the double blind... So, I had the subject walk away and hide elsewhere and I cast my dog further up on the now known trail, and run the trail with the hot track being blind at the end... That is so the dogs practice trailing, but what they did to find the subject was correct: that is what SAR dogs are supposed to do... I guarantee any person actually lost would not object (nor would LE or the family members) if my dog or any trailing dog did just that.. Started a trail and aborted the trail when subjects fresh scent caressed their nose... It is a find and their job...

I would be sure to mark the head pop and proximity alert my dog gave as a way point in case it was a scent pool, or the fresh scent the dog suddenly got was a fluke chimney effect or some other air current that resulted in a loss of scent. That way we could continue the trail and still find subject...

I think we are on the same page for the most part.. Debates on where odor is and what it is doing will survive long after we depart the fields of SAR, lol... I do believe flunking a dog for doing their job is ridiculous.. If certain components are completed (DOT established and trail begun) and weather and/ or terrain factor into the why's the dog did what it did...

Anyhow, I am very curious to Slamdunc and other LE or SAR peeps perspective Always nice to hear other perspectives and reasons behind it and other ways of doing things..
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post #25 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 05:19 PM
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Yes, I can tell from your posts that you are extremely vigilant with working trails, particularly negatives, but I would say your persistence in this discipline is, unfortunately, not the norm. I see a lot of sloppy work - when you lay a trail and, after only an hour in the morning under still conditions in moist ground and the dog is off a few hundred yards I think there may be a problem. .....I understand the conditions that can move scent (one that really got me once was on a side slope after a heavy rain. WHoo boy)

I would love to see a comprehensive (we are working on this for air scent) set of training scenarios to build on based on real world searches and our own imagination.

I would love to hear other insights as well as everything I can soak up on scent discrimination. I think Schoon and Hawk are the most up to date on that in regards to identification but not really as applied to distance.. though there is some old CIA stuff on that but they say up to 500 yards and I know cadaver dogs can target human cadaver odor sometimes over a few miles under right conditions .......while ruling out animal remains.

Ever read Deb Palman's stuff. She has some great articles. The one on distance alerts, I have seen several times in real world situations.

Nancy



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post #26 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 05:51 PM
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Nancy said: Yes, I can tell from your posts that you are extremely vigilant with working trails, particularly negatives, but I would say your persistence in this discipline is, unfortunately, not the norm. I see a lot of sloppy work - when you lay a trail and, after only an hour in the morning under still conditions in moist ground and the dog is off a few hundred yards I think there may be a problem. .....I understand the conditions that can move scent (one that really got me once was on a side slope after a heavy rain. WHoo boy)

I probably should have clarified myself better.. When I'm talking about scent drift, outside of heavy winds during the trail laying on a hot trail, I'm talking about where aging is 8hrs or more minimum... Anyone the distance of a 'few hundred yards' on an hour aged trail, especially with the conditions you state is truly fooling themselves... It is unlikely those dogs and handler's will continue to pursue trailing as most likely their success rate (if they are honest about themselves, or it is proven in deployment) will be quite low...

I just did a 17hr aged track (laid at 1800hrs the evening before and run at 1300hrs the next afternoon) that started double blind but ended single blind. My boy got DOT and was on the actual track (was at a high school, asphalt, grass, gravel rd) for about 3/10 of a mile before he turned right (although a head pop to the left made me think that was the track, which it was).. As it turns out, they had just mowed the whole freaking fields.. I confirmed that I thought we went the wrong direction with subject and recast him at the turn point. He then sneezed 3x and chose the field. He was off her trail by about 10ft (we had 7mph SW wind, 60% humidity and 66F) until he hit the street where a right hand turn to the next street occurred. Here he opted to a grass field about 75ft from Rd but parallel for about 50yds before jogging the actual Rd, then into a grassy pasture with trees and to his find...I was pleased with his work, excluding the wrong turn, but I was glad I read him correctly... Not sure if the fresh cut grass was an aversion at first, or if there was some drift somewhere, but he didn't give me a negative before I 'called it' and broke the blind... That isn't good and something we have to work more on... My point on this story is that after that long of aging, he was very close to actual laid track... I figured with the cut grass he would have been off more as the grass gets sprayed all over.. So conditions I expected to be worthy of distance wasn't, lol...

Deb Palman is great! I would like to attend a clinic from her but I think she is based out of Maine still.. I'm West coast..
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post #27 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 05:54 PM
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Yes I met her at a NSDA seminar - her speech was captivating and certainly the experience to back it up.

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post #28 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 05:58 PM
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I've read some of her articles and enjoyed them immensely.. As matter of fact, my starting negative practice was because of one of her articles
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post #29 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 10:44 PM
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Not necessarily pertinent to the OP's original query.....but close enough. I found this of interest as this dog was able to perform a reverse track.

St. Paul police dog follows wandering boy's scent back to his home - StarTribune.com

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post #30 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-12-2016, 01:50 AM
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I think this was a great article and was on track (haha) with Op's question.. The officer used his clothes and the scent from the kid (he had carried him around for awhile) as a scent article, so the kids didn't have contact with the dog (which follows the OP question of bite dogs doing SAR work)

An interesting side note is having the dog backtrack the whole way... Since we teach (we being SAR) the dog to follow from oldest to freshest of appropriate trail (be it hot, warm or cold trail the freshest track will be the most recent laid and going the direction of travel.. Outside of extreme odd circumstances) for the most part, most dogs dislike being asked, or at least question going in reverse... Article search for LE probably makes it more common then SAR, although I've watched my dogs backtrack to where I hid the HR, in the beginning, lol...
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