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Last night at Schutzhund training I met a woman who is very experienced in cadaver dog and SAR work. I spoke to her about possibly getting Rügen into cadaver work. (I don't have the time to commit to SAR work - Kudos to those who do!) We are going to get together to see if Rügen has a aversion to Cadavers and go from there. I have started reading on the topic and have a question.

In schutzhund tracking the dogs are trained to track ground disturbance NOT air scent. Is it possible to train him to do both? on separate commands? Will I totally confuse him by having him air scent?

He has a great nose- buried deep in the grass- I don't want to knock that off track. Here is a link to the picture of him I recently posted of him tracking.

Thanks-

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=727810&page=1#Post727810
 

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I am by no means an expert, but here is my two cents...
If you are dead serious of getting your puppy titled in SchH, I would possibly wait until you have obtained those titles. SchH tracking is supposed to be deep nosed as you stated, and air scenting MAY affect that. When a dog learns to air scent they will a lot of times rather do that, than put their noses on the ground...
I do both SchH type of tracking and SAR with my Cody. I tell him SUCH when he is SchH tracking and "Find him" when he is on a search looking for someone and basically mainly air scenting. He also has a command for cadaver (search)... He -IMO- is a good tracking dog and will have a very deep nose tracking, but at times I have noticed that he will try to air scent, especially if the track goes through several cross tracks, and he gets confused. It may be MY OWN training problem, nothing to do with the fact that he has also been taught to air scent... but that I do not know.. maybe a little bit of both!
On the other hand, my SAR team leader has a SchH3 dog that has all along also done SAR work... so it it possible.
I will not start SAR with my puppy Brandie, because I do wanna try to obtain SchH titles on her before introducing air scenting to her...
 

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It's my understanding that it is easier to go from Schutzhund tracking to air-scenting, than to go in reverse. Maybe not impossible, but certainly difficult.

I'm in an AKC tracking class now and that isn't as stylized and specific as Schutzhund and I've been watching a variety of people with all kinds of tracking backgrounds, and the dogs who have SAR and cadaver work have a much harder time getting their dogs to go nose to the ground. The dogs cast much more when looking for the track, and the picture is very different than the dogs doing the AKC tracking who have previously done SchH.

(Now bear in mind my understanding is limited so I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong) I believe in Search and Rescue you're looking for a cone of scent, working back and forth until the dog finds the scent which is emanating from the person you are looking for, and the dog moves towards the scent which grows stronger as you get closer to the source. AKC tracking goes with scent rafts and disturbed vegetation. The skin and scent you drop off of you as you walk the track is what the dog should be ultimately following which shifts some with the wind, so a good breeze might put you dog 3ft off where the actual footsteps are, but still moving forward which is perfectly acceptable. SchH ideally wants your dog ON the footsteps, checking every print with a back and forth motion of the head, moving very slowly and methodically. This is why most Schutzhund dogs are really taught to focus on disturbed vegetation and also why people like to track in dirt where steps are obvious and easy to see. In a good breeze maybe your dog sticks just to one side of the prints or is maybe 1 foot off, but you really don't want that because then there is a good chance that they will indicate the articles in a crooked position where you could lose points. So you see SchH tracking is more precise, even though not necessarily practical for real world application.

Rugen is very young, and while I'm sure he understands the gist of tracking, he is not yet a seasoned tracking dog. Air scenting is easier on the dog than the very specific form of tracking you teach in SchH and it would be a silly puppy who wouldn't do something easier if at all possible.

I would agree with Superpup, get your SchH tracking done and solid first before you try to teach something else, it will be easier on you and the dog.
 

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You don't have time to get into SAR but do cadaver? I would say every bit as much time is [should be] put into properly training a cadaver dog as a live find dog. At the absolute minimum you need to figure 4 hours a week on it once the dog is trained and that is just to meet typical detector dog training guidelines for police departments. Bare bones minimum.

We actually have taken to requiring folks to train an area search dog before training cadaver due to the complexities of finding scent underwater, underground, hanging and with a very complex scent picture.

In SAR you have three basic approaches

tracking - as in police tracking - used infrequently by SAR because of the nature of most callouts [if a tracking dog is deployed it is often by LE first responders

trailing - dogs who follow the scent trail deposited by the victim - much of the skin rafts that generate scent fall to the ground and on vegetation near where the person walked - highly effecitve under the right conditions and within a day or so after the person left - the ground scent slowly fades away.

air scent - shutzhund people sometimes use the term air scent differently than SAR folks - yes this is referring to the "coning" of scent from a point source - ie the victim.

Many dogs are considered area search dogs who trail and air scent as needed. Yes getting down sport tracking first, if you are going to do it is the way to go. It has more positives than negatives in terms of learning how to handle a line, read the dog, get the dog used to not working a fringe.
 

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I'm sorry, I have just begun to look into cadaver dog training and had it stuck in my head that SAR work is too difficult and time consuming for me to even attempt. Mostly I was intimidated by SAR work and didn't know enough to be intimidated by cadaver as well.

Thanks for the summary of tracking methods. I am going to continue to educate myself on cadaver and focus on schutzhund in the meantime. I feel we have a good start with the disturbance tracking -a foundation from which to grow. I am in contact with a local SAR and cadaver dog volunteer (she actually lives about 5 miles from me). Hopefully with guidance Rugen will be able to grow to his full potential.

I understand that neither is a small task to take on. As I learn more about cadaver I am finding that it presents it's own very unique and interesting challenges. When do you live find a person 350' below the surface of a lake? It's amazing what they can do. I'm not deterred, I still would like to work with my GSD and give back to my community. I guess I am searching for a niche.
 

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Cadaver is certainly a high demand specialty - if you have someone really good near you willing to work with you I would go for it. At least keep studying to be sure.
 

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Caras_GSD said:
Last night at Schutzhund training I met a woman who is very experienced in cadaver dog and SAR work. I spoke to her about possibly getting Rügen into cadaver work. (I don't have the time to commit to SAR work - Kudos to those who do!)


Hi there :) First of all,training a dog for human remains detection is every bit as tedious as training for explosive detection. ALL phases of human decomposition must be trained for. One must also have much more than tiny amounts to train on. Also, there is no such thing as a dog having an aversion to cadaver odor. Urban legend. In order to train a dog,the dog should have over the top retrieve/hunt drive. If not, do something else. Using food, as in conditioned response, is not the way to train a scent detection dog. If the dog has the drive, there is no aversion to any odor because he is imprinted on that odor to obtain his reward. Also, sport tracking is footstep,deep nose,slow methodical. Most high scores are the result of force training. We do not track suspects,we trail them. If we used the sport method,I would never find anyone. If you are planning to title your dog in sport,do that first. I take sport trained tracking dogs and teach them trailing easily,the opposite is not the way to go :)
 

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Re: Air vs Disturbance tracking- conflict doing bo

Originally Posted By: Caras_GSDLast night at Schutzhund training I met a woman who is very experienced in cadaver dog and SAR work. I spoke to her about possibly getting Rügen into cadaver work. (I don't have the time to commit to SAR work - Kudos to those who do!) We are going to get together to see if Rügen has a aversion to Cadavers and go from there.
Don't fall for it! It's a trap! You may think there is no harm in doing a little aversion testing, but that will lead to imprinting with various sources, and before you know it you'll be hooked and hitting up relatives for their placentas and teeth. Then after you readjust your priorities, you'll find plenty of time and money to volunteer for your community through your local SAR unit.

Kidding aside, you might want to clarify your goals before you get too far into this training. If you find that you want t to seriously pursue it, you'll want to join an organization that gets called out for this type of work. In that case, it would be a good idea to identify that organization early and find out what their expectations for new members are.

I am just starting cadaver training with my dog, but this is following two years of intensive training with live subjects. Also, I have had many opportunities to observe other cadaver dog teams training and have supported them on recovery missions. This kind of experience is very helpful to have before training your own dog, and would be difficult to come by without being part of a team.
 

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Re: Air vs Disturbance tracking- conflict doing bo

My extra two cents would be "I met a woman who is very experienced in cadaver dog and SAR work"

How do you know that? She may in fact be, but there are a lot of people in SAR I would not give a plugged nickel for and we have worked with some folks who were "very experienced" "highly respected" yadayadayada- to find out they were actually quite clueless. I guess what I am saying is she may be really good, but you don't know.

Are you prepared for the sight and smell of a dead body? One thing that did really eat at me was the scream and crying as the police told a family member that her daughter was found dead......it is strange the things that just kind of bother you. I agree getting involved and going on some recovery missions sans dog would be a good thing. I still remember the first body I saw - it was a drowning and even though it was about 8 years ago, I could still pick his face out of a lineup.

We are not trying to discourage you - I know it sounds like that - just things to throw into the hoppers as you think.
 

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Re: Air vs Disturbance tracking- conflict doing bo

Originally Posted By: Nancy JMy extra two cents would be "I met a woman who is very experienced in cadaver dog and SAR work" How do you know that? She may in fact be, but there are a lot of people in SAR I would not give a plugged nickel for and we have worked with some folks who were "very experienced" "highly respected" yadayadayada- to find out they were actually quite clueless. I guess what I am saying is she may be really good, but you don't know.
She went to the world trade center after 9-11. She is going to get another one of her dogs FEMA certified this weekend... I guess I don't know if she is "very experienced" or totally "clueless" but she doesn't sound like novice.

Originally Posted By: Nancy J Are you prepared for the sight and smell of a dead body?
I am not squeamish. I really was just wondering if it is possible to get your dog to be proficient in both air and ground disturbance tracking. I didn't think it would be easy and appreciate the advice to try for our schutzhund titles first. It makes perfect sense to do so.

I have seen a dead body- I will never forget it. It was on my tenth birthday- the 'body' I found dead was my dad. Without going into details it wasn't pretty. I figure if I could handle seeing my father that I would be able to handle a stranger. I could be wrong, he wasn't out exposed to the elements for extended periods of time, but having dealt with that psychological blow so young I think I am more prepared than most.

Originally Posted By: Nancy J We are not trying to discourage you - I know it sounds like that - just things to throw into the hoppers as you think.
I'm 29, my GSD is 5 months old. Everyone starts somewhere- this is possibly my somewhere. I was excited yesterday having had a door open to new possibilities with a chance for real reward. Schutzhund is a lot of fun, but I also wanted to do something community service oriented. I have talked to a friend whose (now ex) wife was involved in SAR, he left me with the impression that since I work a full time job it was impossible to do. We didn't speak about cadaver dog work. When this possibly "clueless" woman approached me with the thought that I could do cadaver I was excited by the opportunity. I also took it as a huge compliment that after seeing me work this little pup she thought I could become a cadaver dog handler, provided I work hard.

I know I may not be able to do cadaver or SAR with this puppy- I'm checking out my options by meeting with her and making connections to the group. I will always have a GSD and be interested in community service. If I learn more, click with the group and don't freak out perhaps in a few years with this GSD or the next I could be working toward getting certified. I realize cadaver and SAR is the deep end of the pool.

Please don't hold my prior ignorance against me. I have the utmost respect for anyone who donates their time to such noble causes. I just want a chance to make a difference too.

How did you get involved?
 

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Re: Air vs Disturbance tracking- conflict doing bo

Well, a lot of folks worked World Trade......
The first thing is does your dog have retrieve drive and rock solid nerves? Evaluating the dog is the first thing. The dog must retrieve forever under any and all circumstances. NEVER lose interest in looking for the ball/kong. Some folks use food drive but it is useless. The dogs shut down under pressure and for various other reasons. The dog must be solid around loud noises, distractions, unstable footing etc. By the way,FEMA does not do cadaver work, live find only unless something has changed drastically.
The thing about cadaver recovery if done correctly,is it is very time consuming and one must have access to the full spectrum of human decomposition aids. Teeth hair and blood do not cut it. That is difficult for most folks to obtain.
First and foremost,however, the dog must be thoroughly evaluated before making a decision
 

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Re: Air vs Disturbance tracking- conflict doing bo

Hi Cara,

It sounds like a good opportunity for you. You could do some reading on line to get more info on SAR training. My team has live-find and cadaver (HRD) dogs (most teams do). There are basically 2 types of teams--wilderness and Urban/disaster. If your friend is FEMA certifying her dog (Do you know if she is trying for the type II or I and where the test is?), she at least does Urban. Most of the people on my team do both. For each team, we train with the team 2x/month. In between, especially in the beginning, you train at least 3x/week for the live find dogs. I dont know for cadaver. But probably as much.

Several on the people on my team are full time research scientists, one has his own business and one in a biologist. All employed full time. If you have the energy and support system, you can do this with a full time job.

A really good way to help figure out if you can do this is to volunteer with a local team. I did that for a year before I joined the team (they were not accepting new members at that point, I figured I would prove my intentions). It gave me a great idea as to the committment. As far as I can tell, Cadaver handlers put in as much time as the live-find handlers. You do always have your 'victim' handy and dont have to always find someone to help you, but teaching the dog all of the complicated places cadaver material can be (besides being familiar with all the types of material) is as time consuming. I do know there is a constant problem for the handlers to find enough and varied HRD material.

As the others cautioned, there are a lot of people who think they are dog trainers who just arent. It is easy to ruin a dog, it is easy to make mistakes and not notice. I like my team because they hold themselves to national standards and are constantly educating themselves (seminars etc).

Good luck!!
 

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Re: Air vs Disturbance tracking- conflict doing bo

I would say if she is a FEMA certified handler she is probably quite knowledgeable.

Going to 9-11 or to Katrina means nothing. So many folks self-deployed to these disasters it was embarrasing.

I am still not sure about your statement "air and ground disturbance tracking" -

You can first do your sport stuff and get the dog good on sport tracking - then transition them to trailing and/or air scent.

Very few people have time to pursue dog sport AND search training [but that includes cadaver]* - the only ones I know are retired or have a wealthy spouse. Most people on SAR teams work normal jobs but their employer lets them get off for searches. [I am salaried but I track my hours and make sure I never "go under" even though the important thing is to get the job done]
 
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