Using prey drive vs play drive in reward for detection/SAR - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 10:11 AM Thread Starter
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Using prey drive vs play drive in reward for detection/SAR

So, been thinking about Donn Yarnall's concept of prey drive vs. play/prey drive. A trainer I was recently talking to was saying that tapping into the prey drive will lead to more consistent performance in detection and fewer false positives than play/prey drive. I get the theory, that prey drive would be instinctual and instinct satisfying and in the realm of independence and that play drive is about rank vis a vis the handler thereby too handler focused... handler pleasing rather than satisfying the instinct.

So my reward for the find/refind in SAR has been a Chuck-it squirrel. When Tygo leads me in, I bring out the squirrel and play a rough and tough game of tug and then I'll throw the squirrel, the subject might chase him (he loves to be chased) and then he likes to sit and shred the squirrel (he really does like this... although is a bit expensive) and unfortunately tries to eat it... which of course I do my best to stop. I often will let him carry the squirrel back to his crate. Some of my subjects play tug or have the toy but most are a bit scared of Tygo's play style (although he is great at targeting and rarely hits a hand). And wouldn't this be play drive rather than prey?


I think my reward is both play and prey. So I'm wondering what you folks think about focusing more on the throwing and less on the tug. Allowing him more time to shred.... but being vigilant about the eating part. And if so... how much would you throw the toy... once and let him shred it ? Chase him a bit, throw a bit and then let him shred? ... seems like the "reward" would have much less energy than what I'm doing now if I just throw once. Is that a problem? Is the mix of play and prey that I'm doing now okay?

What are your thoughts about handler focused reward systems with detection dogs? Sort of interesting in the SAR realm because I have so often heard about having the toy with the subject to build subject relationship... but this theory seems like it would not really subscribe to the value of that.

Why am I thinking about this? I'm getting more scent and frustration alerts. The scent alerts (alerting on weak scent) I can deal with... the frustration alerts (not knowing what to do so jumping on me) I would like to see those go away.

Thanks to all who might chime in.

Karin
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 12:20 PM
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I have never done SAR work , but I was very successful in detection work.

Letting your dog shred the reward is wrong in my opinion. When my detection dog hit on the contraband she got her tug toy and we played tug for about 30-45 seconds, then the tug was put away.

I've worked and trained with many other handlers, including SAR handlers and it is pretty much the same for them; quick reward time "play then put it away".

Otherwise the dog will eventually become bored with the toy/reward.


The reward for the dog (tug, toy) must be their most sought after goal in life. The reward is what they live for and it drives them to earn it.

If my detection dog went for more than 3 days without a find I would have someone (other than me) place a hide in a location unknown to me.

Once a week, every week without fail a hide would be placed by me along with several false/negative hides.

False/negative hides could be a newly purchased toy that you have never touched (contaminated), to food or coffee grounds, bounce sheets etc.

Consistent performance in detection with fewer or no false alerts is all about constantly training. For the dog and handler, dogs will mess with you to get their reward.

Don't get caught up in peoples definitions of "Drives" real or perceived.

Just my opinion based on personal experience.


Kim
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 12:33 PM
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I don't think the frustration alerts are from the toy approach. Often they are from pushing to much negative time too fast....or the dog is somehow confused or has been paid for the behavior in the absence of finding the source of odor in the past.

I just play a quick game of tug then take the toy. When we are done with a search area, I let him carry the toy back. When he searches a negative training area or searches a real area but makes no find, I throw the ball a few times for him. Tug is by far his "thing" and he runs to me with the toy and to anybody else in the search group and we all play with him...that is particularly for a long problem where he has to work really hard. We normally use a ball on string, but any toy seems to work.

Havent really dissected it. It works for him, worked for the last dog.

Nancy



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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DutchKarin View Post
I think my reward is both play and prey. So I'm wondering what you folks think about focusing more on the throwing and less on the tug. Allowing him more time to shred.... but being vigilant about the eating part. And if so... how much would you throw the toy... once and let him shred it ? Chase him a bit, throw a bit and then let him shred? ... seems like the "reward" would have much less energy than what I'm doing now if I just throw once. Is that a problem? Is the mix of play and prey that I'm doing now okay?

What are your thoughts about handler focused reward systems with detection dogs? Sort of interesting in the SAR realm because I have so often heard about having the toy with the subject to build subject relationship... but this theory seems like it would not really subscribe to the value of that.

Why am I thinking about this? I'm getting more scent and frustration alerts. The scent alerts (alerting on weak scent) I can deal with... the frustration alerts (not knowing what to do so jumping on me) I would like to see those go away.

Thanks to all who might chime in.
We did "prey" reward with Titan when we trained and it was truly the one thing that really got him to zero in on a search. I threw 2-3 times and if it was the final search, he got to carry it back to the truck. If we had more victims, I would put it back in my pack and command to "search." Titan has serious focus on chasing anything so once he knew I held that key he worked and worked. Now he certainly wasn't perfect, but he was progressing very nicely and that was our reward system.

I, personally, am a fan of handler focused reward systems. I get the idea of the other to a point but in the end I want me to be his focus.. I hold the key and he needs to accomplish this task for ME to get it. I think in the beginnings of training, the reward being with the subject is a great way to build interest and build the drive to search but at some point the reward should transition to the handler and the dog become solely dependent on the handler in that regard. Just my opinion.

v/r,

Whitney
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 12:49 PM
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" I hold the key and he needs to accomplish this task for ME to get it."


I agree, the dog knows that his/her reward is not falling from heaven, it is coming from the Handler.

It still needs to be their object of desire over all else and they must earn it.


I think we are on the same page.


Kim
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 01:54 PM
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I may be confused to the question. But for my wilderness dogs, we did "victim" rewards. The play comes from the victim not the handler. I never wanted my dog turning to me for a reward when things got tough. They knew they had to find the victim to get to play.

Also I don't want the dogs reward to be the toy. I want the dogs reward to be the play, the toy is just the vehicle for that.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 02:34 PM
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gsdsar- I am speaking mainly about detection rewards which come from the handler upon the dog hitting on a find.

The SAR Handlers I have worked with (Avalanche Rescue) in training will have the victim/decoy reward the dog when it finds them with a tug/rag for a few moments of tug/play and then take the reward away.

I believe that is what your are referring to?

In my mind, the concept is still the same, a few moments of reward/play time then the dogs reward is taken away. They don't get to keep it or shred it.


I would like your thoughts on this, thanks

Kim
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 02:41 PM
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Yes. Detection is different. Reward is from the handler, although with the increased use of Dutch Boxes, the toy can appear to come from the source of scent, which can increase obedience to scent.

Yes, the play is ended after a play session and the toy is put away. Although, with some of my dogs, after the final find, and "all done" I would let them carry the toy. Or I would try, but s dead toy is a boring toy. They generally dropped it about 10 seconds later.

The toy is irrelevant. It's the play.

"So that others may live"

Hannah vom Steffenhaus, BH, Wilderness SAR
Eisenhower v.d Polizei "Ike" Wilderness SAR, CGC
B'Lena z. Treuenhanden
Nixon vom Banach, RATN
Phoster, FEMA USAR(Labrador)
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 02:45 PM
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Thanks for clarifying that, as I said my experience with SAR work is very limited.


Kim
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2015, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirates Lair View Post
" I hold the key and he needs to accomplish this task for ME to get it."


I agree, the dog knows that his/her reward is not falling from heaven, it is coming from the Handler.

It still needs to be their object of desire over all else and they must earn it.


I think we are on the same page.


Kim
I think we are too

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsdsar View Post
I may be confused to the question. But for my wilderness dogs, we did "victim" rewards. The play comes from the victim not the handler. I never wanted my dog turning to me for a reward when things got tough. They knew they had to find the victim to get to play.

Also I don't want the dogs reward to be the toy. I want the dogs reward to be the play, the toy is just the vehicle for that.
I do see your reasoning behind that and agree to a point. Initial training, when we first started, when we were doing a bark and hold for our find with no refind (German SAR team, their rules for a find), we had the victim with a reward. While it was successful, in that he wanted to find the victim because he knew he'd get the reward, we ran into problems where the dog would be more concerned with that first victim and it was hard to transition in a multiple victim find.. like he would be more concerned with staying with the first victim because they got the reward already and because I wasn't the provider, it was more effort getting his attention back in the game and moving on. When I moved to me being the only one that gives the reward, it brought his focus back to me. Transitions between victims were smoother because I controlled the reward not who he finds. If that makes sense.

I'm not saying that's the rule to stick with, just what I noticed with Titan and me. Admittedly, I was a novice (still am )and it's possible I was causing the set backs with the victim controlled reward system.

v/r,

Whitney
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