Teaching dog to bark at alert 5 1/2 month old - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-25-2009, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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Teaching dog to bark at alert 5 1/2 month old

OK I am in no way an experienced SAR person but one of my puppy buyers asked for a good candidate as she does SAR. I did enough research to pick out the most likely candidate in the litter. Fortunately I was spot on and this pup is a natural phenomenon . She was amazing from the gate and has continued to impress her handlers and trainers. She is training for cadaver. The owner is having trouble with only 1 thing which is getting her to bark once she lays down and alerts. Knowing the pup is only 5 1/2 months old this is a tall order as she is not a real vocal dog. I suggested marker/clicker training and asked when does she bark...only time was at home if someone came in drive. So I said mark, click , treat, use word association everytime and it may take weeks but she will eventually get it and it will click in her brain and then transition to the training filed...right approach? Suggestions? Would something like tying her off and getting her agitated to bark benefit like you do in Schutzhund or is this the wrong approach?

The behavior is unnatural to alert on a passive object so for my information and learning how do you all teach this? Bear in mind this is a very young dog who is doing an amazing job and is having great fun at this point...don't want to lose that by working this aspect of training too hard.


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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-25-2009, 10:55 PM
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Re: Teaching dog to bark at alert 5 1/2 month old

Ok can't help you with the bark though I am sure someone can.

I work a cadaver dog. My dog has a sit alert. I do have a show me command for the dog to put his nose on source, which was done using a verbal marker.

Several folks I know with down alert are doing sit in the future because it is easier for the dog to offer when they are in a bizarre location, like a brush pile or in a vehicle - but some still do a down alert.

I would ask her why she needs the bark alert. After talking with a lot of folks one thing the GSDs naturally seem do on the alert is to make eye contact with the handler. You need a trained alert but a deliberate sit or a down is pretty definitive - because a sit or a down in the absence of body language does not mean much and it is so easy to read the difference.

I was concerned about what I would do if the hide was out of sight [and you want the dog in sight most of the time so you can read the body language] and it is true - it is so important to them to let you know they come back and look at you like ", can't you smell what I smell?" and will get you there - -- a natural behavior. My own dog has done that - once he was in a deep pit and he would run out of the pit, find me, run back into the pit until I got there and rewarded him. He did this with no special training.

My dog is certified - operational through NAPWDA and I had this conversation recently with quite a few handlers at a recent advanced cadaver seminar that it really does seem to be natural characteristic.

Something to consider.

Nancy



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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-25-2009, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Teaching dog to bark at alert 5 1/2 month old

I am not clear on the bark alert as well and asked her why when the show me command is issued she does the nose thing as well and also does the down...pretty definitive to me as well.. but apparently everywhere is a little different in how they go about things and she mentioned it was part of a a test.

Also said they wanted a clear cut response from the dog and it was not just downing for a reward or bored or tired etc. That is all I was able to glean from the conversation.


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-25-2009, 11:18 PM
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Re: Teaching dog to bark at alert 5 1/2 month old

I don't know of ANY police certifying agency that does not accept a standard passive alert without bells and whistles. And LE knows a lot more about standard detection training than most civilians because LE dogs are worked every day. If it is good enough for a bomb dog where failures can result in human death then......**

I am not sure the certifying agencies require passive so much as do most handlers - we do because our LE wants passive and a passive alert is not hard to train. But a lot of people ruin a good dog asking it to go overboard with complex alerts. I even met someone who wanted her dog to do different alerts for different scents - it was a nice dog but confused as all get out.

There are going to be times when even a well trained dog will alert falsely [There are even allowances or expectations of a false alert rate in the low single digits - I know my own dog has a 2% false alert rate based on training records] BUT the good handler can tell when the dog is trying to pull something over them to get their toy because the dog alerts with out the body language. You have to have both to call it.

I think if the handler cannot tell the difference between an alert [down or sit] and the dog just downing or sitting there are bigger problems. And during a trained alert the dog is wound tight ready to pounce for its toy. Bottom line if the dog wants its reward [often because it has worked a negative area longer than it is used to in training and wants its toy] and it is trained to down and bark - guess what - it will still down and bark so what is the point?

Also, this is still a wee puppy. Needs to have some fun there. If I had a puppy, I would be imprinting like mad - going all kinds of places to expose the pup to full spectrum, driving great distances if need be to be exposed to a full body, etc so that dog starts buidling a real good library of what is and is not cadaver. And it would be short fun stuff. Real motivational. Besides it will probably forget everything for awhile when it is a teenager.

**I think the civilian cadaver handler can be strong because they can focus on scenario based training and exposing the dog to a richer breadth of situations than many departments have time to do because they can't justify maintaining a full time cadaver dog.

Nancy



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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-26-2009, 05:01 AM
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Re: Teaching dog to bark at alert 5 1/2 month old

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Quote: Also said they wanted a clear cut response from the dog and it was not just downing for a reward or bored or tired etc. That is all I was able to glean from the conversation.
The easiest and most definitve alert when done correctly is the scratch alert that we use on most of our narcotic dogs. Naturally my explosive detector dogs are passive sit dogs. The main problem with the sit or down is that I see few folks who have the expertise to maintain the alert. The dog starts looking at the handler,getting sloppy and far away from source etc. IF the dog does not exhibit final response exactly at the HR, in the real world, where is it? Also, the bark is just not necessary. I am a certifying official for the largest police k9 organization in the nation and bark is rarely seen. The handler of a passive dog must get that dog close enough to source to call the location however. I would highly reccomend a scratch alert especially for a novice
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-26-2009, 05:06 AM
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Re: Teaching dog to bark at alert 5 1/2 month old

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Quote:I suggested marker/clicker training and asked when does she bark...only time was at home if someone came in drive. So I said mark

Careful with the clicker. I really see no use for this in scent detector dog training. The problem that I see with it in my seminars is that few folks really know how to use it and when to lose it. The dog becomes dependent on the clicker to tell him when he is in odor for example. IF the dog has the proper drive for his reward,the reward is the incentive to work. If your friend is training using food, I would discourage that as well. Food reward does not work for scent detector dogs .
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-26-2009, 05:55 AM
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Re: Teaching dog to bark at alert 5 1/2 month old

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Quote: Also, this is still a wee puppy. Needs to have some fun there. If I had a puppy, I would be imprinting like mad - going all kinds of places to expose the pup to full spectrum, driving great distances if need be to be exposed to a full body, etc so that dog starts buidling a real good library of what is and is not cadaver. And it would be short fun stuff. Real motivational. Besides it will probably forget everything for awhile when it is a teenager.
Absolutely. This is a pup and GSDs especially mature slowly. Tell your friend to be easy. Short little training scenarios,no pressure,keep it fun.
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