What Do you Use as an Indicator? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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What Do you Use as an Indicator?

My "homework" is to pick what I want Elsa to do for an indication of a find. I have decided I don't want her to do the body slam. I'm thinking a bark? She hardly ever barks, so I would be able to pick up on it.

What does everyone else use?

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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 08:57 PM
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I thought when certifying to do SAR it's very specific how the dog "alerts" a find????????????????????
Research I have read says it's very very important....as I have never read anything about a body slam, however maybe the SAR folks here can explain.

Renee'

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Um, the "body slam"/"jump up"/"target handlers body" is actually a very common alert.

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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 09:40 PM
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A lot of folks use a body slam or some variation such as a tug at a toy on handlers belt or even just poking into your hip with the nose. It does not have to be the hard jump on your body. I like the jamming the nose into the hip - easy to train and maintain with a small tidbit of food with the major reward when they get you to the victim. (You have to continue to reinforce this behavior in training, something people forget!)

Keep is something an exhausted dog can still do and you won't misread.

The bark -- sometimes the problem with that is the dog has too much to mentally "shift gears" and is often harder to build. Depends on the dog whether the bark will work or be a great experience in frustration. If it is not natural for the dog don't push it. .

I have seen passive indication like a return and a sit really mess with the dog that is real shift of gears, that many just cant do because it takes them out of motion.


Training the indication is one place a lot of people get hung up on and the most important thing you actually "train" Whatever you do get the final indication NAILED and 100% before going any further - and whatever you do don't go changing it around too much! make it easy and fun for the dog.

Renee -a detection dog may do an alert as in a passive alert but the body slam etc all ways to tell you "found them, now follow me NOW" and they will repeate it until they get you there.

Oh, I work an HRD dog now but I had my old area search dog just bite a bringsel that was on MY belt.

Nancy



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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 09:43 PM
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Ok, well this is why I LOVE this forum, I never stop learning. I thought it was always a return with a sit....

Renee'

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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 10:01 PM
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The alert for the different types of detection is always different... I am guessing your GSD is training for Air Scent and not tracking.

As far as I know though for FEMA which has the most stringent certification standards the dog must stay with the victim/target and have an audible aka bark alert as the indicator.

There are MANY different standards out there though that I have found and read. It all honestly depends on what is required in your region or with the K9 SAR group you are with.

Ze'eva Li'ora - GSD 06/26/2010 [SAR/Wilderness Air Scent]
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 10:11 PM
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I use the bark at where the victim is, as do all the teams I've trained with. Since our dogs do wilderness and urban search we don't want them going back and forth on the rubble.

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
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I use the bark at where the victim is, as do all the teams I've trained with. Since our dogs do wilderness and urban search we don't want them going back and forth on the rubble.
Yeah that was my understanding and the main reason why it is a FEMA standard for K9 SAR.

Ze'eva Li'ora - GSD 06/26/2010 [SAR/Wilderness Air Scent]
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 11:29 PM
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Our dogs track for fun and we us the bark when they find the item in home. Of course since this is just for fun it may not be correct for real SR work
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2010, 12:00 AM
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My dog indicates by tugging a toy hanging on my side. The toy (firehose) is not the same as my reward toy. Some handlers use the same toy for the indication and reward. This can work, but some dogs have a tendency to self-reward if you do that. I'll give my thoughts on other indications that I have seen.

Body slam: possibly dangerous with some dogs, especially in sketchy terrain. Can cause bruises or worse. Usually the handler will prep for the indication by facing toward the dog and bracing for the impact. If you are not sure whether the dog is coming back to indicate, I think you could inadvertently cue the indication by bracing yourself.

Sit at handler: usually when a dog is coming back to indicate, it is very excited and teaching it to passively sit or lie down can be more difficult than a more active indication.

Bark at handler: when the dog is tired and panting, getting the barks out can be difficult for some dogs. The bark attempts can still be quite readable though. I followed a dog team with this indication recently and was very impressed. When the handler was walking the dog would get in front of him before indicating. And when he was hung up on a big log that he was climbing over, the indication was still very obvious.

Bark and hold: great for rubble, not acceptable for the wilderness in my area. With terrain, trees, wind, rivers, etc and the dog ranging a long way, it can be impossible to hear the barking so a refind is necessary.

Touch hand at side: I don't get this one. Maybe it can work in some situations, but what if you are doing something else with your hand? How can you do it without cueing the dog?

Does a little hop and a twist then looks back with cocked head: Ok, I made this particular one up, but some people end up with an indication that is difficult to explain or read by anybody but the handler. My guess is that these people didn't start out to train the behavior, but it has evolved to something that the handler has somehow reinforced, perhaps accidentally. In my opinion it is much better to choose something clear, simple, and easy to articulate, then stick with it. When I am on a search and I have a police officer following me and I'm asked "what does your dog do when he finds someone?", I am glad that I can simply say "he tugs this toy" rather than going into some long involved explanation.

Once you have the behavior trained, proof it in all kinds of situations. The dog should be able to indicate no matter what way you are facing, or if you are preoccupied by looking at a map or talking on the radio. What if you are walking in thick brush on a steep hillside at night? Train for such situations gradually so your dog gets accustomed to indicating in non-ideal conditions and so you know when your dog may be reluctant to indicate.

There is something to be said for choosing an alert the dog is naturally inclined to do. So you should consider what indication could be best for you and your dog. Once you decide however, stick with it. You will probably need to shape the behavior over time though. By this I mean your criteria for an acceptable indication may start out fuzzy ("nudges the toy with his nose") and progresses to very clear ("bites the toy and tugs it hard"). But in training don't let it regress or you will train your dog to not give a clear indication.

Jonathan & Benny


Last edited by dog27; 11-02-2010 at 12:08 AM.
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