German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,835 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
OK my SAR friends, I was just reflecting on the past tests I've taken, and reading up on other national standards and expectations (including area, trail and HRD) and wondered how close to 'real life' have these tests come? Obviously there is a different kind of stress involved in test taking compared to real life, as well as the help involved (teams of people all devoted to finding the missing)... But, distance, aging, depth of HR buried or placed, area coverage for area search dogs and anything else anyone can think of...

I figure the tests are mostly to give a base line, our job is to excel way beyond that point, but a base line is given to create a minimum standard... How close is that standard to real life, including the actual taking of the test (this may vary depending upon organization. My organization has you test solo so it is truly double blind) in everyone's opinion?

Open to other lines of thought and questions as well... :)
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
16,483 Posts
Honestly, I consider most national tests to be a basic skills assessment and the expectation is your training records are the true story and should reflect harder and more varied scenarios than you would experience in real life.

For example most basic area searches are 40 acres daylight with progressively harder tests but we want to make sure everyone can do a night search with about 60-80 acres to represent call situations. Double blind testing is very good. Now we don't double blind test in cadaver (we certify NAPWDA) but we regularly set double blind problems in training. And then we look at real-time performance to make decisions about call readiness.

HR testing is more like a narc dog test than a SAR dog test and involves relatively small search areas. I have not seen a SAR dog test that reflects a large (human sized) recently deceased human being in about a 30-40 acre search area (or more) but that is realistic. So is a large bone scatter field. It is easy to train for a bone scatter scenario but the other, is just a matter of exposure and experience you may not get until an actual search.....typically a deceased person is immediately treated like a crime scene and access limited.......so you make sure, when you do encounter that situation, you can articulate what your dog actually does

One example is I recently did NOT work Beau in a boat because I am having some troubles with his trained final response in the boat. We passed our certs with flying colors 3 years in a row and he actually has a few water finds, but until that problem is resolved, and another dog is available, I won't be working him in that situation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,835 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Good points.. History is more important than a single test - which could both flunk a great dog and pass a poor dog on a given test (although it is not as likely a poor dog will pass a hard test). Good examples are given for the HR aspect, as unless the missing recently expired while the search was in motion, it is more likely a crime scene and small areas are worked..

I think too much is made over a certification. That is a snap shot of a teams progress... It can reflect their hard work - up to the test.... But it shows nothing thereafter, until recert... Viewing a teams history is important and vital imho...

Thanks Nancy! Great view points.. Funny how a dog can have a great alert and then suddenly stop or start being inconsistent in an area they seemed solid in... Hope your boy works through the issue quickly and permanently :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,904 Posts
When I did wilderness it was through ARDA. Before doing our final certification, we had to pass multiple smaller tests. 2 mile trail, 40 ac woods, field, and 40 ac night , and dense brush. Then the final certification was a 120 ac, 6-8 hours multiple victim problem. On all of the tests it was totally blind, dog and handler. Only the evaluator knew where the victims were.

And I always felt very prepared during searches. Aside from the stress of being in a real search, we had seen and done what we saw and did on actual searches.

USAR, whole other ball of wax.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
16,483 Posts
Good examples are given for the HR aspect, as unless the missing recently expired while the search was in motion, it is more likely a crime scene and small areas are worked..
We have had some pretty large search areas for suicides and even for potential crime victims. Same with bones. Dog brings home a human bone from the woods. The actual scatter field may not be that big but you have to find it (of course I think I would suggest putting a tracking collar on the dog first to see if it will go back to the scene)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,835 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
In house testing is always wise.. We have that as well, then an outside certification.. Makes for a more well rounded, knowledgeable (hopefully) team... I think making sure night searches are covered is important too...

You are right Nancy, that searching suicides or remains could be a large territory... Airplane crashes or train incidents are another.. I was kind generalizing over a live search...

I know a push to get teams certified quickly can ultimately be a dangerous avenue to take. Focusing on just the dog handling can be problematic as well.. My particular test did not require me to do any mapping skills, although I know some tests do (level 5 of ASCT does). But our team does work nav problems often and our mock searches focuses heavily on those skills.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
I am also a fan of in-house testing ... The national testing standards are designed to test common criteria and I think those are good and important for a certification basis but in-house also has the added benefit of localized conditions, cross-team training/handling, and often a more in-depth critique/remediation focus.

We find that we are harder on ourselves than the agency testing and have scenarios that are based on call outs in our area.

For HRD, we have both small and large format calls depending on quality of information/PLS and age of event. A wide-area HR search is not uncommon for certain crime scene events.

-Frank
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,345 Posts
I like the way my handlers say when you pass the certification tests, you get to take your training wheels off.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top