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Started SAR training with Taz about a month ago, the group I am training with thinks he is doing amazing for his age. Taz is not super excited over anything like toys. I have bought every toy that people on this site says their dog love, and nothing. The group tells me he has to be working for something or will get bored and not want to search, they don't want me to use treats of food for reward. I am at a loss for what to do, I have just been praising him like crazy when he makes a find. Anyone have any suggestions.
 

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It's tough to do most types of SAR with a dog that does not like to play. They need to have a very special reward to make it worth their while.

All of my live find dogs use toys. My new boy, who will be hopefully doing HRD was started with food, but quickly transitioned to a toy. (Which was a surprise to me because he is not toy driven)

I have seen toys that have pouches that food can be hidden in. (Ow bad grammar). You can start the dog with food given from the toy, then once comfortable, the victim can "tease" with the good toy by dragging it around before letting him get it, then possibly he can tradition totally off it.


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Discussion Starter #5
He likes to play if I am playing. He gets super excited when I put on his harness he knows what we are getting ready to do. Is praise when he makes a find good enough, it seems to be enough for now. Just don't want him to get bored later on. He just doesn't seem to want to play when we are tranning
 

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Will he play with other people when not in a training sequence?

For most GSD, praise is not enough. Once the problem get harder and the dog is pushed more, the praise at the end is rarely enough to motivate.

Of course without seeing your dog I can't judge his drive. Or what's motivating him, so it's hard to say. Are you doing trailing or air scent?


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I corrected the typo in your first post, moved the thread to the SAR section, and made the subject line more specific.

Hope this will help get your question the appropriate attention. :)
 

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Your dog won't play fetch or tug or anything? That's strange. Ha! And weird that they don't allow for food rewards, especially when nothing else seems to be working. I know in my previous K9 SAR group, you basically had to act silly and go crazy to hype up the dog to let it know it's doing the right thing and you're super happy for him because of it. It took a while for us newbies to be able to jump around like an ape and use a squeaky happy voice to praise the dog. We were all adults acting like children, but it did have a positive effect on our dogs, and once we got passed our own embarrassment, we saw better results. But we all also used toys and tugs and played fetch and/or used special food rewards. Whatever the reward was, they only got it to reinforce the positive results in training, and were never allowed to do the same reward at home for general obedience/play. I'm sure there are leaders and highly experienced trainers in your unit that you could ask for some one on one training, guidance and advice. Our unit leader was a well known SAR dog trainer, and the first ever certified in the state of Oregon. There were members in the group that would pay him on the side for additional training to help their dogs get over certain obstacles. What would take many hours to overcome, this particular trainer could analyze and assist your dog in 5 minutes. He was amazing! His part-time job outside of SAR and his regular day job was as a dog trainer, which is why they paid him as compensation for all the amazing things he was able to do for these dogs. So that's always an option too, and one that I never thought of in that previous unit for my own dog. Wish I would've thought of that, to get the additional training on off days, as my dog could've really used it, as could I!!! Good luck. SAR is amazing, and I think I'll stick with the K9 SAR community until my body can no longer handle it.
 

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I don't pretend to be an expert. This is my first SAR dog and also one of the most complicated dogs I have ever owned.... complicated, head strong and sensitive all at the same time. But like your Taz, he shows an amazing work ethic and a nose for SAR. I too have been challenged by toys. My SAR folks told me that most puppies start with a great food drive and it is okay to use that and constantly be checking for toy drive. That it will develop with most dogs. A friend of mine had a Golden that didn't chase a ball until it was 18 months old and then became a fiend for the ball and a very good avalanche SAR dog.

For Tygo, we used food first. Oddly, I had to learn to play with Tygo with a trainer. This dog is so sensitive to cueing that I lost some of the fun of play and for him it became about possession. That training has been very successful. We are now able to use a chuck-it squirrel for a combination of tub and frisbee and that seems to be working well. It has been very important for me to only use his favorite toy in SAR work. It can't be used at other times or it loses its specialness to him.

I do, like you I think, wonder about the ability of a dogs work ethic to carry him through the work. Tygo has always had a very determined work ethic.

One other thing, I once has a Pyrenean shepherd that I got as a 3 year old with no toy drive. I was able to tap into it though with a rabbit pelt. She went nuts for that and I was able to transfer that to toys... then my brother's Berner ate the rabbit pelt. So beware if you go that route.

Best
 

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Your dog is young...about 7 months old, correct? I would work on building whatever toy drive is in the dog both with you and with other people and see if you can turn him into a toy maniac.......the flirt pole is good for that. I turned one into a tug monster (she was very food driven) by using one of those tugs that holds treats then opening it up and feeding her after the tug game.

Tug N Treat - food motivating tug toy

I have seen some very succesful dogs that were food driven (to the extreme) but when you train with a group of people it is easier to "think inside the box" as the folks who will be helping you have expressed a strong preference for a toy driven dog.

Generally, the dogs who only "work for praise"...do seem to have problems when the searching gets tough........even though I honestly think it is the joy of the hunt and not the toy that motivates a good search dog...but that all seems to go hand in hand.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Will he play with other people when not in a training sequence?

For most GSD, praise is not enough. Once the problem get harder and the dog is pushed more, the praise at the end is rarely enough to motivate.

Of course without seeing your dog I can't judge his drive. Or what's motivating him, so it's hard to say. Are you doing trailing or air scent?


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We are doing trailing. He will play when he doesn't have on his vest and we are not working. Can't figure this out. For example he is playing tug right now as I am typing with my daughter. It's like when he is working he is really focused and serious. If that makes sense.
 

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Your dog won't play fetch or tug or anything? That's strange. Ha! And weird that they don't allow for food rewards, especially when nothing else seems to be working. I know in my previous K9 SAR group, you basically had to act silly and go crazy to hype up the dog to let it know it's doing the right thing and you're super happy for him because of it. It took a while for us newbies to be able to jump around like an ape and use a squeaky happy voice to praise the dog. We were all adults acting like children, but it did have a positive effect on our dogs, and once we got passed our own embarrassment, we saw better results. But we all also used toys and tugs and played fetch and/or used special food rewards. Whatever the reward was, they only got it to reinforce the positive results in training, and were never allowed to do the same reward at home for general obedience/play. I'm sure there are leaders and highly experienced trainers in your unit that you could ask for some one on one training, guidance and advice. Our unit leader was a well known SAR dog trainer, and the first ever certified in the state of Oregon. There were members in the group that would pay him on the side for additional training to help their dogs get over certain obstacles. What would take many hours to overcome, this particular trainer could analyze and assist your dog in 5 minutes. He was amazing! His part-time job outside of SAR and his regular day job was as a dog trainer, which is why they paid him as compensation for all the amazing things he was able to do for these dogs. So that's always an option too, and one that I never thought of in that previous unit for my own dog. Wish I would've thought of that, to get the additional training on off days, as my dog could've really used it, as could I!!! Good luck. SAR is amazing, and I think I'll stick with the K9 SAR community until my body can no longer handle it.

He will play tug and fetch when we are not tranning. As for acting silly yes that was hard at first acting like that in front for people I just met. Yes SAR is amazing I love it, and he does to I just don't want him to lose the drive he has.
 

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I don't pretend to be an expert. This is my first SAR dog and also one of the most complicated dogs I have ever owned.... complicated, head strong and sensitive all at the same time. But like your Taz, he shows an amazing work ethic and a nose for SAR. I too have been challenged by toys. My SAR folks told me that most puppies start with a great food drive and it is okay to use that and constantly be checking for toy drive. That it will develop with most dogs. A friend of mine had a Golden that didn't chase a ball until it was 18 months old and then became a fiend for the ball and a very good avalanche SAR dog.

For Tygo, we used food first. Oddly, I had to learn to play with Tygo with a trainer. This dog is so sensitive to cueing that I lost some of the fun of play and for him it became about possession. That training has been very successful. We are now able to use a chuck-it squirrel for a combination of tub and frisbee and that seems to be working well. It has been very important for me to only use his favorite toy in SAR work. It can't be used at other times or it loses its specialness to him.

I do, like you I think, wonder about the ability of a dogs work ethic to carry him through the work. Tygo has always had a very determined work ethic.

One other thing, I once has a Pyrenean shepherd that I got as a 3 year old with no toy drive. I was able to tap into it though with a rabbit pelt. She went nuts for that and I was able to transfer that to toys... then my brother's Berner ate the rabbit pelt. So beware if you go that route.

Best
Thanks it is always helpful to hear others, and what, and how things works for them
 

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Your dog is young...about 7 months old, correct? I would work on building whatever toy drive is in the dog both with you and with other people and see if you can turn him into a toy maniac.......the flirt pole is good for that. I turned one into a tug monster (she was very food driven) by using one of those tugs that holds treats then opening it up and feeding her after the tug game.

Tug N Treat - food motivating tug toy

I have seen some very succesful dogs that were food driven (to the extreme) but when you train with a group of people it is easier to "think inside the box" as the folks who will be helping you have expressed a strong preference for a toy driven dog.

Generally, the dogs who only "work for praise"...do seem to have problems when the searching gets tough........even though I honestly think it is the joy of the hunt and not the toy that motivates a good search dog...but that all seems to go hand in hand.

Yes he is 7 months old. Thanks I have a flirt pole. He plays fetch with me and tug, when we are working he just doesn't seem to want to play
 

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I can see why they want to build up a good reward system. Right now, your dog is doing easy stuff for trailing but the trailing dog is typically used to find direction of travel with only a vague idea of where the start is and in an area contaminated with older scent from the victim as well as fresher scent from family members, other dogs who may have worked the area, searchers etc. (not to mention vehicles parked at the scene when the call is first taken)

Once the dog is ON the trail, it becomes very motivating in and of itself but scanning to find the trail is hard, tedious work and he is going to need to learn to search when there is no or very low or very complex odor..........hence the value of the reward. A top notch trailing dog is a real asset.

Why don't you start by getting strangers to play with him outside of training before expecting it at training? He needs to look at other folks as fun fun fun. Then set up very very short trailing problems and build in the reward. One thing that may jack him up is to (discuss with your training folks) do a short runaway after the find to jack him up and switch on the prey drive.

What team are you on? NCCERT? I don't know many of the teams in Eastern NC anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The team is costal carolina in greenville. Right now that is a lot of what we are doing with him is run always. He gets to see the person run away then they just step off into the woods where he can't see them. We pump him up good before, and after. I am just worried this won't be enough later.
 

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Heard the name; not familiar with the team. Is he going to be an on lead trailing dog for sure or an off lead airscent dog or do you know yet? No, it won't be enough later.....Yes, I know....I met some of them at the Dupont exercise last fall!
 
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