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So my girl passed the initial evaluation to begin HRD training, and we're signed up for a weekend handler's course in the beginning of April. I'm totally new to this, and I'm feeling a little intimidated. I got my girl as a companion, but I also want to give her a job and this is what we've stumbled into. She's the only shepherd on the team that isn't from working lines. I guess it wouldn't be the end of the world if she washes out, but I want to give her the best chance possible to succeed.

Is there anything I can be working on to help develop her hunt drive in the next few weeks before we go to the class? I know hunt drive is not the only aspect of a good HRD dog, but I think it's probably where we need the most improvement.
 

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Is she toy driven or food driven? What kind if eval? Are you working with a team?


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Curious about what team? The only one I know in that area is SCSD to the SE and STARR a bit further from you to the NW...as well as some SUSAR folks trying to make a go of it in Columbia. What kind of evaluation?
 

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Well, also how old is the dog. You really can't "build" the hunt drive I don't think. It is either there or not. Your dog should be willing to dive into any level of brush to hunt for a ball. We do the FEMA tests when we look at suitable candidates. A food driven dog is not necessarily ruled out though as it would be for FEMA. So these are things your dog should be capable of. It is a lot easier to teach a toy driven dog than food driven for HRD.

http://www.disasterdog.org/pdf/training/articles/Screening.pdf

We never start new handlers with HRD. Ask about certifications. Most of the teams push hard on having national certifications on the HRD teams(as well as all the requisite foundation courses, Bloodborne pathogens, hazmat, and crime scene preservation) because if a criminal search goes to court you want that agency standing behind you [if an HRD team finds a body who was a murder victim, the defense attorney for the person being tried for the murder will often do all it can to discredit the HR team in court and a national certification brings the courtroom support and expert witnesses you want behind you]

Also ask yourself if you are emotionally prepared to find dead people of all ages in all stages of death. [The ones hardest to me are the very recently deceased; I have not had to face seeing a child yet but have been on a search where a dead child was found and that was hard enough. Many on our team just don't want a thing to do with HRD.]
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Goodness I wasn't expecting so much interest. This really is a great community :)

Is she toy driven or food driven? What kind if eval? Are you working with a team?
Curious about what team? The only one I know in that area is SCSD to the SE and STARR a bit further from you to the NW...as well as some SUSAR folks trying to make a go of it in Columbia. What kind of evaluation?
She'll work for food, but she's definitely more toy driven. For the evaluation, the team trainer played with her a bit, threw her toy while she was restrained, and then had me spin her before releasing her to go get it a couple times. Yes, I'm working with STARR.

Do you know what you asking for? What are you going to hunt?
The team only does human remains detection, so looking for dead people and any traces of dead people in a given search area.

tell us a bit more about your dog present state.
lines don't matter ---
Umm I'm not sure what you want to know? She definitely has good prey drive, but just isn't as crazy as some of the working lines and mals I've watched. Watching the mals work makes me nervous that maybe she won't be as good, so I want to do everything I can to help her be as awesome as possible even though we're both n00bs :eek:

Well, also how old is the dog. You really can't "build" the hunt drive I don't think. It is either there or not. Your dog should be willing to dive into any level of brush to hunt for a ball. We do the FEMA tests when we look at suitable candidates. A food driven dog is not necessarily ruled out though as it would be for FEMA. So these are things your dog should be capable of. It is a lot easier to teach a toy driven dog than food driven for HRD.

http://www.disasterdog.org/pdf/training/articles/Screening.pdf

We never start new handlers with HRD. Ask about certifications. Most of the teams push hard on having national certifications on the HRD teams(as well as all the requisite foundation courses, Bloodborne pathogens, hazmat, and crime scene preservation) because if a criminal search goes to court you want that agency standing behind you [if an HRD team finds a body who was a murder victim, the defense attorney for the person being tried for the murder will often do all it can to discredit the HR team in court and a national certification brings the courtroom support and expert witnesses you want behind you]

Also ask yourself if you are emotionally prepared to find dead people of all ages in all stages of death. [The ones hardest to me are the very recently deceased; I have not had to face seeing a child yet but have been on a search where a dead child was found and that was hard enough. Many on our team just don't want a thing to do with HRD.]
She's a year old, and I know there's a strong genetic component to Hunt drive (as well as all of the other drives), but I thought it might be like prey drive where certain activities can bring it out more? So not so much trying to build it, as develop it/encourage it? Perhaps I'm wrong though.

The team only does HRD because that's what the greatest need is for in our area. I think most of the live searches are done by police dogs, so you don't really get the call outs for that. They do require a number of certifications and classes because, as you said, a lot of the searches have a criminal component.

As to being emotionally prepared, I don't know if a person can know how they will respond until they are actually faced with it, but I am not squeamish or particularly emotional (a fault in much of the rest of my life, but perhaps a strength in this area?).
 

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The link I sent you shows the kind of ways they test for it. Doing those things would help bring out the innate drives and evaluate nerve strength; it is a good baseline. We get a mix of live and HR searches, but our HR dogs are specific to HR.

This was the kind of thing I was doing with little Beau as a puppy- faked throws - the first is just playing with a ball in high weeds at about 17 weeks (I faked a throw then dropped the ball while he was not looking) and the second was imprinting with HR material in a plastic tube at about 12 weeks (I think). You want to throw toys in such a way that they have to use their nose to find it (orange is invisible to them in green). That would be a good start and throw them everywhere. Different people have different ways of imprinting odor though :). I used tubes, some use buckets, others use scent boxes or devices with PVC tubes, but you would not be imprinting till you met with them anyway.


 

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Discussion Starter #9
Aww he's a cutie!! Yeah I guess we're getting kind of a later start, but like I said she's my first dog, so we're learning together :) I'm pretty sure they use boxes for scent imprinting, but I don't think I'll get scent items until after I complete the course. (I think they want to try to teach ME what I'm doing before I start trying to teach my dog lol!) Having her practice looking for her toy sounds fun though :D

On a random note: Is that why a lot of retriever training bumpers are orange?
 

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I believe it is. Could be because WE see the orange real well though. There is no harm in having the dog hunting for the toy for fun. I never do scentwork in my yard but we play a lot of ball there.
 

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Sweet, did anyone else who had questions have anything to add? I know Jocoyn is generally the expert in this area, but I was curious what other people had to say too. Any experiences with starting out your own SAR dogs?
 

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She pretty much hit the nail on the thread.

I use the hunt to go toy method as well. Making sure to praise a lot when he finds it.


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I would clarify. I am not the expert but just another K9 handler sharing what I know like the others. I have certified and worked a cadaver dog (and as a part time volunteer handler) since 2008 but there are certainly others on the forum who know as much if not more than I.

My personal preference for things like the thrown toy with odor, Randy Hare wall boxes (I would love to go to a seminar), Training walls, etc. is that they take the handler out of the search and away from the decision for the dog to indicate than the boxes in a circle. I have seen a lot of dogs trained on boxes on the ground who do not range from the handler to actively seek out odor out unless they hit odor and leave to go to it. But it is considered a viable training method though perhaps more "old school"...kind of depends on how the boxes are done. I am used to the old approach of walking the dog on lead in a circle, taking to odor, prompting indication and handler giving direct reward to the dog.........as opposed to dogs free searching to find the box which offers a remote reward (like the ball poppers).

EDIT there are lots of different ways to train this. Lots of different opinions. Not sure any one way is the "right" way. A lot of methods are keyed to a specific type of dog prescreened for a work program as well. Mostly, consistency is the most important thing when we talk about SAR advice. Research different ideas and ways. Talk about with your team mentor but don't run with everything new. [sometimes happens to folks who go to seminars and change everything on a whim]
 

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hunt drive is pretty much there or it is not .

Jocoyn I found a four page article in Schutzhund USA 2000 . A translation of Thomas Baumann's article entitled Detection Dog The Cadaver and Missing Person .
Baumann was a police dog handler for many years before becoming an advisor , then director of training.

It is a great article . Unfortunately I can't find a link which enables me to share the information.
My hats off to the degree of difficulty . The dog has to have high hunt drive to discover evidence , even blood soiled material , either degraded by unfavourable environmental and weather conditions or deliberate masking odors and age or depth - and again age .

here is a shorter article published 2007 to get an idea of the nature of this work
http://k9searchsolutions.com/files/30-37_CADAVER_TRAINING_FINAL.pdf
 

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Someone here just "informed" me that SAR is not difficult at all; they could find any lab in a shelter to do it. :rolleyes: what a joke.

Good luck! I was at our regular monthly meeting for my group and we were just discussing how one of the dogs last week alerted to a spot where someone had tried to burn a body. They had then moved the body when it didn't burn, but they had used gasoline as an accelerant and it was so strong we could smell it far away. The dog was still able to indicate a body had been there though, even through that. Impressive.
 

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hear this all the time "Someone here just "informed" me that SAR is not difficult at all; they could find any lab in a shelter to do it.
what a joke."

joke right back to them and tell them to get lost -- then see if they are confident in being found by "any lab in a shelter" .

unfortunately there is an idea that SAR is something for the dog to keep busy , a hobby activity.
 

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hear this all the time "Someone here just "informed" me that SAR is not difficult at all; they could find any lab in a shelter to do it.
what a joke."

joke right back to them and tell them to get lost -- then see if they are confident in being found by "any lab in a shelter" .

unfortunately there is an idea that SAR is something for the dog to keep busy , a hobby activity.
Oh I totally agree. This person is full of something and it certainly isn't brains.
 

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Some of the things that are unique to HR work are consider that over 400 molecules are common to human decomposition odors and in varying concentrations. The typical drug has one or two key molecules. This complexity of odor means one has to do a lot of work to ensure the dog can distinguish human remains from all other remains and even some plants. Then there is the factor of age. Dogs can be trained to find ancient remains.

The article is good. I don't agree 100% with everything in it but that is par for the course you will find. Lots of opinions out there.

The article mentions pigs and we can even share body parts with pigs but believe it or not, there is some recent research indicating that we may smell more like dead chickens than anything else. In any event you have to go to great lengths to train on the full spectrum of what is human and what is not so that info is in the dog's "catologue". It is actually an area where older, more seasoned dogs, add a lot of value. People do all kinds of whacky things like bury a body in lime, bury a body under animals etc. It don't work. :).

It gets tricky because, rightfully, once a body is found the dog's don't typically have free access to "work the body" as you don't want to destroy evidence. So we usually drive great distances to work at universities such as the WCU FOREST who study human decomposition in a natural setting, etc. In my dream world, each state would have a repository for training aids that all the teams could train on. It is just not uncommon to drive 4,5 or more hours just to expose a dog to a specific source.

I was at a seminar where most of the dogs properly selected the towel that had been soaked in blood and washed in oxy-clean and bleach to the point where there was no visible clue and then the very same dog is expected to find a complete human putting out a lot of odor.

We are going to the advanced seminar and bone ID workshop at WCU in May. It is funny to go on a search and see people get flustered when dogs the walk right over deer bones or pig bones because the people think they are human. There are lots of bones in the woods. Nothing will ruin credibility faster than *finding* deer bones and calling them human. On my first trip to WCU, the dogs had to "find" the enclosed area in the woods. They had to work through a vehicle containing dead chickens, and a complete and very pungent dead black bear to get to the relatively subtle (at that point in time and relative to a complete bear) human odor.

This is also a group who searches for historic remains, a specialty niche
Institute for Canine Forensics | HOME

We, like others, have a policy of not talking "about" specific searches. Sometimes I might post something in a newspaper but most HR work is not something an attention seeker wants as it is done as quietly as possible and as out of the eyes of the press as possible, both out of respect for the family and because any search could be related to a police investigation that you don't want to mess up.

Where people do a disservice is to train a live find dog on small bits of very old HR training aids, then think that dog is proficient to find a whole human body, recently deceased or to work a complex site*. I believe it is possible to successfully cross train a dog but it is a LOT of work and requires the right dog and the right handler.

*Think a body buried on a hill has both odor coming out of the bury site but also filtering down into the ground water and going downhill - also the longer something is out the odor carries great distances and settles in shady areas etc so that the scent pool can be very fragmented. Working problems that have been out for days is very different than the often used problem that may only be a few hours out, if that.
 
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