No Rewards? A question for working dog handlers - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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No Rewards? A question for working dog handlers

I have a question for all of you. But I am especially interested to hear from people who work dogs in any capacity, SAR, police k9, service dogs, whatever.

Is there a point at which your dog is no longer getting rewarded for its work?

I was discussing some tracking theory with people on a tracking group and a judge said something like it should be 95% training (where there were rewards to be had) and 5% testing (no rewards allowed)

I trained my first service dog tasks mostly with toy rewards. She'd complete her thing and get a game of tug for it. At a certain point she was able to do her task, was able to see the fact that it helped me, and it therefore became self rewarding for her to do it. She took pride in her work. I always thanked her and told her she was my hero when she would do a task and help me. She always got positive feedback from me for a job well done, even if it was petting or whatever.

I am curious to know if SAR handlers, k9 handlers, do your dogs still get a toy for their work ever? Or, are you still doing training outside of real work where the dog is getting high value rewards for its work. Or, does the work become self rewarding and not need to be reinforced?

I would still do brush up work with her over the years where she did get rewards for things.

I have a reason for asking this but I'm curious first what any responses are.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:28 PM
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I don't have a service dog like you speak of. but, People at my club do have SAR dogs. From what I gather from their conversations they do give a game of tug following a successful track. IE the dog will track for miles through horrible terrain have to make the dog stop for water they are so focused on their mission. All for a game of tug afterwards. But I could have misunderstood.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:29 PM
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Rewards always, even if the training is self fulfilling. The dog is working and deserves a paycheck as much as we would. Testing for HRD no reward is allowed, and if a find of a victim deceased some decorum is needed in how the dog is rewarded. But by then, the dog won't be upset and reads the mood of the handler.. And rewards will still follow when able.. During training, rewards are huge and the dogs expect them even if they enjoyed the work. But our training (SAR) is different then SD work. We train for 3 given disciplines (air, trailing and HRD) and are training for the worst day/night of someone's life. The dog has to be highly sharp for miles and miles of tough terrain in horrid conditions. That isn't to say the SD dog isn't working hard all day too, but usually not in the stressful conditions an emergency situation does.

Your SD is probably rewarded in ways you don't think about, and I think the SD dogs mind tunes into their handler/charge and they find self edification in their work - but a paycheck is still a paycheck, and dogs ain't dumb, lol.. My dogs know if their subjects skimped on the goodies once found,lol..but both of my dogs will work either way and work until they drop (not that I would allow that to happen) because they enjoy it..
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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I do think service dog work can be pretty stressful and demanding. My first thought is not as athletically demanding as SAR. And a service dog will mostly need to be working in a very calm, quiet state, able to sit quietly still for long periods of time but remain vigilant and ready to spring into action at a moment's notice. They can also find themselves riding in ambulances with first responders and going through waiting rooms with their human in a medical crisis. Beyond that I probably can't really compare the two because I don't know that much about SAR.

I think my gratitude and appreciation for my dog which I was not shy about expressing to her, became a valuable reward for her. I remember the way she would look at me when I told her she was my hero for helping me.

I'm not 100% sure I understand well enough but I am thinking that most of what service dogs do is not "in drive" and most of what SAR and police k9s do, is? Would love for anyone who knows more than me to chime in on that. It isn't totally relevant to my original question, just a spinoff pondering.

But this is very interesting and thanks for the answers so far and keep them coming! @Slamdunc?
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:55 PM
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No, continually rewarding for the find unless the dog didn't succeed or make the correct decision/choice.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:56 PM
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Please don't misunderstand. E, I know SD work is stressful and demanding on the dog - and the hours are long. It is a different type of stress most of the time though, where their owners aren't usually in a highly emotional charged state (that being said it would of course differ for the disability the dog is working for) all the time. There is down time for the SD.. Of course there is down time for the SAR dog, or MWD, or K9.

I would agree personally with the thought of the difference being the working mode the dog is in. An over amped SD would burn out fast and not be very useful for most in need of an SD. Whereas, a SAR dog is often amped up before the deployment (my dogs amp themselves and need no further fuel on the fire). I'm in awe of SD's and their tireless dedication to their charge.. It truly takes a special dog to do that sort of work.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdwoodcox View Post
I don't have a service dog like you speak of. but, People at my club do have SAR dogs. From what I gather from their conversations they do give a game of tug following a successful track. IE the dog will track for miles through horrible terrain have to make the dog stop for water they are so focused on their mission. All for a game of tug afterwards. But I could have misunderstood.
You understood correctly
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 10:00 PM
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For SAR, you never stop rewarding. At least with GSD. Can't speak for bloodhounds.

Would you work everyday and never get paid?

Do we start to give variable rewards? Sure. But there needs to be a balance. The dog needs to honestly think a reward MAY be coming. So you switch it up. But I know if no SAR handler that stops rewarding once the dog knows the job.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hineni7 View Post
Please don't misunderstand. E, I know SD work is stressful and demanding on the dog - and the hours are long. It is a different type of stress most of the time though, where their owners aren't usually in a highly emotional charged state (that being said it would of course differ for the disability the dog is working for) all the time. There is down time for the SD.. Of course there is down time for the SAR dog, or MWD, or K9.

I would agree personally with the thought of the difference being the working mode the dog is in. An over amped SD would burn out fast and not be very useful for most in need of an SD. Whereas, a SAR dog is often amped up before the deployment (my dogs amp themselves and need no further fuel on the fire). I'm in awe of SD's and their tireless dedication to their charge.. It truly takes a special dog to do that sort of work.
I agree with this. I don't know either how often a SAR dog works? Counting training as work because they have to be ready and they have to be conditioned. SDs might work more frequently, at a lower intensity?
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 10:11 PM
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Thecowboysgirl said:

I agree with this. I don't know either how often a SAR dog works? Counting training as work because they have to be ready and they have to be conditioned. SDs might work more frequently, at a lower intensity?

I train most everyday, but not for the length of time am SD dog does, so I would agree with idea of a lower intensity for an SD but longer hours most of the time. Frequency of mission callouts vary with seasons and years. I had 6 this past month but nothing sense November until this month.. So varies.
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