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This is a carry over from another thread in regards to hunt drive.

What had me curious about evaluating hunt drive was @David Winners post regarding his own puppy.

Here is what he said: "Valor is just 8 months. He's looking like he would be a fantastic MIL/LE dog. Loads of confidence. His hunt drive is extreme (12 minutes running hard on a search with no handler intervention). Great handler focus. Very forward when suspicious." - David Winners

Here are a couple of responses he graciously gave me:

What I want to see for detection is active searching that is rewarding to the dog that has duration limited by the physical condition of the dog, not attention span. If the dog in the example will search until it can't close its mouth to sniff, I'll take him in a heartbeat.
12 minutes searching full blast for a puppy is substantial. 12 minutes is far longer than most police dogs spend on a detection search. Many on leash detection dogs need regular handler direction after a search goes on beyond their attention span (a few minutes).

Respiration rate increases dramatically (200 bpm) when sniffing, so the dog loses oxygenation during a search. This also causes discomfort. The combination of drive, conditioning and training comes together to build duration in searches. If one of those requirements is missing, the ability to search is lessened.

Top tier military bomb dogs will search for much longer, but that is built up over years. Fama, at 4 years old, would actively search 6 miles or so without a break. They also learn to relax and settle into a search through experience.

To address your specific question, in a puppy, I want to see 5+ minutes of searching without coming back for help. This can be greatly effected by what kind of activity the dog has endured before the test and the conditioning of the dog.

I think many people would be surprised at how quickly a dog will stop actually searching with its nose because of fatigue.
So here are a couple of videos of two different dogs. If anyone has anything to say about the dogs in the video or evaluating hunt drive in general, it would be appreciated:


 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)



@1:40 mark in the 3rd video the dog takes a break to eat snow and owner tells dog to find the ball, which he does a little later in video. Therefore, at the 1:40 mark, you have 9 minutes of hunt right there.
 

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This is a carry over from another thread in regards to hunt drive.

What had me curious about evaluating hunt drive was @David Winners post regarding his own puppy.

Here is what he said: "Valor is just 8 months. He's looking like he would be a fantastic MIL/LE dog. Loads of confidence. His hunt drive is extreme (12 minutes running hard on a search with no handler intervention). Great handler focus. Very forward when suspicious." - David Winners

Here are a couple of responses he graciously gave me:




So here are a couple of videos of two different dogs. If anyone has anything to say about the dogs in the video or evaluating hunt drive in general, it would be appreciated:


It's hard to see on my phone, but it seems in this first video, the pup is using his eyes more than his nose. He also comes back for help at about a minute. I would send him back and maybe give him some general encouragement without pinpointing the toy. This can help show the dog that he is basically on his own and if he wants the toy, he's got to work for it.

The big brother isn't really hunting in drive. A dog that is really into it would be cranked up and waiting to be released.

Something that I like to do when I have a mentor dog is to allow some competition to evolve in hunt games as the puppy gets older. This can be complicated, as you can see aggression pop up as the puppy pass goes away. I had to stop using my mentor dog with Valor during searches for this very reason.
 
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@1:40 mark in the 3rd video the dog takes a break to eat snow and owner tells dog to find the ball, which he does a little later in video. Therefore, at the 1:40 mark, you have 9 minutes of hunt right there.
I would say that about the start of the second video, the dog is no longer continuously hunting. It's a conditioning and training issue. If this is just a fun game, none of this matters. I'm not knocking this dog or owner in any way.

From a working dog perspective, the handler is allowing the dog to beat the same ground to death. The wind is left to right from our perspective, and the dog hits odor several times and follows it down wind. A good handler will recognize this and encourage the dog to work up wind. After time, the dog will figure this out and work into the wind on their own.

You can see conditioning come into play here. By 3 minutes into the search, the dog is slowing and sniffing less frequently. By the end, he has checked out and needs encouragement to get back into the game.

Valor would still be hard charging, busting brush and ranging out at this point, even after multiple searches in adverse terrain with lots of hills.
 
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Very interesting, thank you Jen and David. I’m more familiar with tracking but I had a dog with an outstanding natural hunt drive so I can comment. The dog is not in drive here. If just walked and hid the ball somewhere my dog would find the track and get to the ball while working scent, wind, crosstracks etc on his own. Then he would indicate the ball at the end. If I just threw the ball far in the bushes he would start canvassing the area and would not cover the same area twice.

He was a very confident tracker, very independent. If the ball was not found and he was to leave, he would pick up where he left days later, he somehow kept that ball in his mind. I tracked him through out his life but even as a puppy he was very methodical and very thinking. And yes, working scent is very taxing on the dog.

When a puppy with no drive was chosen for me and I was told I could do tracking with him I just shrugged my shoulders, no thank you. Tracking is not just sniffing the ground, it’s not Sch obedience exercise.

My current dog is full of drive and not so much skill so he’s work in progress. Lol
 

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Very interesting, thank you Jen and David. I’m more familiar with tracking but I had a dog with an outstanding natural hunt drive so I can comment. The dog is not in drive here. If just walked and hid the ball somewhere my dog would find the track and get to the ball while working scent, wind, crosstracks etc on his own. Then he would indicate the ball at the end. If I just threw the ball far in the bushes he would start canvassing the area and would not cover the same area twice.

He was a very confident tracker, very independent. If the ball was not found and he was to leave, he would pick up where he left days later, he somehow kept that ball in his mind. I tracked him through out his life but even as a puppy he was very methodical and very thinking. And yes, working scent is very taxing on the dog.

When a puppy with no drive was chosen for me and I was told I could do tracking with him I just shrugged my shoulders, no thank you. Tracking is not just sniffing the ground, it’s not Sch obedience exercise.

My current dog is full of drive and not so much skill so he’s work in progress. Lol
Skill comes with experience, as I'm sure you know. I am really letting Valor figure things out on his own with only the smallest of handler inputs, such as pushing him down wind by moving in that direction. It's interesting as I have no time constraints with him, so instead of leading him by the nose (pun intended), I'm allowing him to self discover.

An interesting thing is that I get similar drive on a search where he sees the toy being thrown and a blind search.
 

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I would say that about the start of the second video, the dog is no longer continuously hunting. It's a conditioning and training issue. If this is just a fun game, none of this matters. I'm not knocking this dog or owner in any way.

From a working dog perspective, the handler is allowing the dog to beat the same ground to death. The wind is left to right from our perspective, and the dog hits odor several times and follows it down wind. A good handler will recognize this and encourage the dog to work up wind. After time, the dog will figure this out and work into the wind on their own.

You can see conditioning come into play here. By 3 minutes into the search, the dog is slowing and sniffing less frequently. By the end, he has checked out and needs encouragement to get back into the game.

Valor would still be hard charging, busting brush and ranging out at this point, even after multiple searches in adverse terrain with lots of hills.
Hi David, thank you very much for your analysis and feel free to knock the owner or the dog. The owner is an idiot. Well, at least 90% idiot lol. I'm pretty sure you know who he is and he prefers brutal honesty than to be buttered up ;)

This was a poorly planned test - it wasn't planned - and I'll address some of your points:

1) dog is out of shape and owner is a neophyte

2) handler allowed the dog to beat the same ground as it was a test and wanted to see what dog would do

3) the wind is a swirling wind in hydro line corridor and was a windy day

4) a couple possible explanations that the dog "beat the same ground to death" was that training was lacking as you said and further, the handler was playing fetch with dog prior to the test. The handler was tossing the ball to that same side of the bush only a little further down the hydro line. Therefore, the dog my have been conditioned to a pattern before the test ?

5) The handler forgot to give a command to the dog prior to releasing it. Although, I'm pretty sure the dog knew what he was looking for as the handler and dog were playing fetch with that same ball earlier.

6) It is worth noting that as soon as the handler started moving is when the dog found the ball.

7) Also, should be noted that in the "hunt drive part 2" video - the original footage had the handler explain that there was a two minute delay in filming due to a battery change

Valor looks real good and I trust when you say he has extreme hunt drive as this is your specialty. That's why I thought your 12 minute hunt test might be valuable for the newbie to help assess their dogs hunt drive. However, as you've pointed out it isn't quite that simple as setting a timer. You have to also understand what it is that you're seeing.

I just find it useful, for a variety of reasons, if I can put a rough number on something on a scale of 1 -10.

To be honest, I don't think any of this dog's drives are "extreme". So, I didn't expect his hunt drive to be extreme either. He is a dog that uses his nose a lot and always has it on the ground though. I also know that this dog has a "medium" energy level as told by the breeder and observed by the handler.
 

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I'm a recreational tracker so don't put too much into what I say. The dog was confused, just confused, trying to figure out what he had to do. In tracking, a dog sometimes goes through the motion and even passes the first TD test but in reality he's not tracking but just stumbling on the scent. That's what I think the dog here was doing, trying to catch the scent and then he didn't know what to do with it so when he was loosing it he was coming back for another try. It was exhausting, he was not ready for the conditions but he really tried hard. It's unfair for the dog to set the test like this because it didn't test anything. The dog may have an amazing drive but he didnèt show it and was confused.

Valor knew exactly what he needed to get, he started pretty methodically covering the ground. You will notice that he didn't even look at the owner when passing by, his focus was on the job. I understand that it was really the exercise, not the test, though, very well done.

Here is the test for that first dog, very easy. Throw a ball in the tall grass, not very far, let him see it, then go somewhere for a walk, do something else with him, play or whatever, so he's disoriented from the ball, then come back and see if he goes hunting for the ball and if he does have any enthusiasm for it.

On a side note, energy really has nothing to do with a good tracker. I think dogs like ppl may have different styles. My first dog tracked walking pace, he didn't loose focus when interrupted, he was going back to the track, changing gears was so easy for him. He worked problems on his own, we even worked week old tracks, it was just beautiful. He loved the tracking itself I think, it was fulfilling for him.

The current pup is a monkey, he will walk to the start on his rear legs, literally, and I I will need to get gloves and may need to run on longer tracks down the road because he's just so fast. He does get frustrated easier though, sloppy, and I need to really plan the sessions and adjust to teach him what I want, he's not so naturally grasping it as my previous dog. He also loves the flash, he loves fun, he loves to impress, and he wants that end reward, tracking is just a way to get there.
 

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Replies in bold because I'm too lazy to multi quote...
Hi David, thank you very much for your analysis and feel free to knock the owner or the dog. The owner is an idiot. Well, at least 90% idiot lol. I'm pretty sure you know who he is and he prefers brutal honesty than to be buttered up ;)

This was a poorly planned test - it wasn't planned - and I'll address some of your points:

1) dog is out of shape and owner is a neophyte

As I implied, there is a huge difference in goals. A trained bomb dog and experience handler are going to look different than a novice dog looking for a ball while playing fetch.

2) handler allowed the dog to beat the same ground as it was a test and wanted to see what dog would do

This is a good thing. Now you connect the dots between what you see and what you want to see.

3) the wind is a swirling wind in hydro line corridor and was a windy day

Swirling wind creates pockets of odor that move. It's a challenging situation that the dog can learn to recognize through handler encouragement. I understand this was a test and therefore the handler observed rather than trained.

4) a couple possible explanations that the dog "beat the same ground to death" was that training was lacking as you said and further, the handler was playing fetch with dog prior to the test. The handler was tossing the ball to that same side of the bush only a little further down the hydro line. Therefore, the dog my have been conditioned to a pattern before the test ?

Sure. A pitfall to any training is developing a pattern that you don't want! Experience leads a trainer to understand when this is happening so they can throw a curve ball to break the pattern in a way that will disrupt the dog and make it think instead of react.

5) The handler forgot to give a command to the dog prior to releasing it. Although, I'm pretty sure the dog knew what he was looking for as the handler and dog were playing fetch with that same ball earlier.

The dog was searching from the start.

6) It is worth noting that as soon as the handler started moving is when the dog found the ball.

100%. So this is the rub. When to help the dog. Success is good. So is self discovery. So is frustration to a certain level, but then it becomes failure and drive plummets.

7) Also, should be noted that in the "hunt drive part 2" video - the original footage had the handler explain that there was a two minute delay in filming due to a battery change

Valor looks real good and I trust when you say he has extreme hunt drive as this is your specialty. That's why I thought your 12 minute hunt test might be valuable for the newbie to help assess their dogs hunt drive. However, as you've pointed out it isn't quite that simple as setting a timer. You have to also understand what it is that you're seeing.

Understanding the dog in front of you is most of the challenge. In detection, subtleties are the name of the game. I know when Valor is going to pee the second is crosses his mind. Video is priceless. If you are going to train a detection dog, for work or competition, the ability to consult video is priceless. After enough experience, you can pinpoint the moment that a dog is on odor, and then when they lose it. You can then make a decision on whether to help or let them work it out based on the dog and the situation.

I just find it useful, for a variety of reasons, if I can put a rough number on something on a scale of 1 -10.

Well that is always the easiest thing in theory, but it's always subjective. Does this dog heel at a 1-10? Hot, tired, before or after protection, strange field, what it looked like last week, forgot favorite toy, following a bitch onto the field, another dog took a piss...

To be honest, I don't think any of this dog's drives are "extreme". So, I didn't expect his hunt drive to be extreme either. He is a dog that uses his nose a lot and always has it on the ground though. I also know that this dog has a "medium" energy level as told by the breeder and observed by the handler.

He hunted and found the ball. With some direction, he could look much better.
 
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I'm a recreational tracker so don't put too much into what I say. The dog was confused, just confused, trying to figure out what he had to do. In tracking, a dog sometimes goes through the motion and even passes the first TD test but in reality he's not tracking but just stumbling on the scent. That's what I think the dog here was doing, trying to catch the scent and then he didn't know what to do with it so when he was loosing it he was coming back for another try. It was exhausting, he was not ready for the conditions but he really tried hard. It's unfair for the dog to set the test like this because it didn't test anything. The dog may have an amazing drive but he didnèt show it and was confused.

Valor knew exactly what he needed to get, he started pretty methodically covering the ground. You will notice that he didn't even look at the owner when passing by, his focus was on the job. I understand that it was really the exercise, not the test, though, very well done.

Here is the test for that first dog, very easy. Throw a ball in the tall grass, not very far, let him see it, then go somewhere for a walk, do something else with him, play or whatever, so he's disoriented from the ball, then come back and see if he goes hunting for the ball and if he does have any enthusiasm for it.

On a side note, energy really has nothing to do with a good tracker. I think dogs like ppl may have different styles. My first dog tracked walking pace, he didn't loose focus when interrupted, he was going back to the track, changing gears was so easy for him. He worked problems on his own, we even worked week old tracks, it was just beautiful. He loved the tracking itself I think, it was fulfilling for him.

The current pup is a monkey, he will walk to the start on his rear legs, literally, and I I will need to get gloves and may need to run on longer tracks down the road because he's just so fast. He does get frustrated easier though, sloppy, and I need to really plan the sessions and adjust to teach him what I want, he's not so naturally grasping it as my previous dog. He also loves the flash, he loves fun, he loves to impress, and he wants that end reward, tracking is just a way to get there.
Tracking and detection are different things. I don't think the dog was confused. It was looking for the ball. The sequence and procedure are different when tracking.

You notice some important things with Valor. He doesn't look to me for help. He will loop back to me because that is the beginning of a search and if he comes up empty in a particular direction, he will move off in a different direction starting with me, because he knows that the hide may be 2 feet in front of me.

This is a product of training. A bomb dog handler doesn't move into an area until it is clear. My lizard brain doesn't allow me to move into "dangerous" territory. Because of this mindset, my training leads a dog to be out front, and to look to my shoulders for guidance. This goes back to wolves hunting if you want to get into the weeds.

Tracking and detection, and SAR, all require the same drives, but they manifest in different ways. The mechanism of the search is based on disturbed earth or target odor. Ground or air.

Same goal with different techniques employed.
 
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How interesting, thanks David for breaking it down. I'm not familiar with detection even though I think I should try it because Hunter is probably excel in it much better then in tracking. I took an into into Nosework with him and it was very boring class for us because they make you look for food and he was finding everything in split seconds, and I didn't get much out of that class. They also focused on teaching your dog work independently and walk in front of the handler, and Hunter was born independent lol I'll try again on my own, it interests me now.

I didn't mean the dog was confused as not hunting, he was confused with the odor and where and how to find that ball, he was not ready to work in the conditions of the test and was kinda set up for failure, but you definitely saw more than I did.
 

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I took an into into Nosework with him and it was very boring class for us because they make you look for food and he was finding everything in split seconds, and I didn't get much out of that class. They also focused on teaching your dog work independently and walk in front of the handler, and Hunter was born independent lol I'll try again on my own, it interests me now.
Was that an in person class? If so, what about taking an online class, so you can move at your own pace? Denise Fenzi offers online nosework classes, I haven't tried them but they seem very popular. I did nosework classes with Andrew Ramsey years ago with Halo & Keefer and at the time nosework classes all started out with food and took awhile to move to odors. They had their program and all their instructors had to follow it. Andrew trained MWDs for years at Lackland AFB so he used his own methods. He has a series of DVDs produced by Leerburg (Halo and I appear briefly in one of them), so that might be another option.
 

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I am enrolled in Nosework 101 with the Denise Fenzi Sports Academy, and I am struggling a little bit, because the class assumes that you have some exposure to nosework.

At the very beginning, there's a long list of equipment, but there's no explanation on how to prep anything. I had to look at other sources for that information. This put me a bit behind schedule; it was frustrating.

I like how Leerburg lays out their videos.

@Cassidy's Mom which specific Leerburg DVDs are you referring to?
I can only think of "the foundation of sport detection".
 

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@Cassidy's Mom Yes, it was an in person class. Very disappointed because I was looking forward to it. I am thinking to take an online class but I am cautious because it can be hit and miss depending on the instructor. Thank you @JunoVonNarnia for sharing your experience! Who do you have as an instructor?

Leerburg just partnered with Jens Frank from the Scandinavian Working Dog Institute (SWDI) which I follow on FB and really like. They will have some very good classes coming, can’t wait!

I just looked at my dogs pedigree and discovered that his maternal grandsire was a winner of master police dog drug search competition in Czech Republic so maybe he got some good traits inherited. Maybe tracking is not his talent and I am cool with that, will try something new :)
 

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Something of note about most beginner Nosework classes and videos. They are typically designed for all dogs, including moderate to low prey drive and older dogs.

If you are starting with a GSD that has some toy foundation, the early stages of any generic program are going to move way too slow.

I like the Andrew Ramsey videos. He explains things well and their are examples of right and wrong. I have them on DVD somewhere lol. The biggest thing is having an experienced trainer critique your handling to point out what the dog is actually doing and where you can improve.

If anyone wants feedback on detection / Nosework videos, I'd be happy to look them over and offer my take on things. I have a video of blind, open area searches to shoot when I get time, weather and a camera operator.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'm a recreational tracker so don't put too much into what I say. The dog was confused, just confused, trying to figure out what he had to do. In tracking, a dog sometimes goes through the motion and even passes the first TD test but in reality he's not tracking but just stumbling on the scent. That's what I think the dog here was doing, trying to catch the scent and then he didn't know what to do with it so when he was loosing it he was coming back for another try. It was exhausting, he was not ready for the conditions but he really tried hard. It's unfair for the dog to set the test like this because it didn't test anything. The dog may have an amazing drive but he didnèt show it and was confused.
David addressed the "confusion".

I disagree that the conditions were unfair to the dog and that it didn't test anything. I will admit that it was unfair to condition the dog prior to the test by only throwing the ball to one side of the bush. And, perhaps, also not giving the dog clear instructions to "find" the ball versus stick.

However, IMO, the test still did reveal the dogs desire, or lack of, to search for the ball. Further, this test is also consistent to what I saw in him when he was younger; I observed him search for stick which was stuck in a tree and he looked for quite a while (I didn't time it) and slowly gave up similar to the video. I'm sure if I encouraged him, or helped him, he would of kept going.

The dog IMO does have strong, balanced, drives - prey/defense. They are not over the top though. I would say, based on the pedigree, and the dog, his drives are in the 6 - 8 range. I'm saying this basing a "ten" or "ten plus" in prey, being a malinois in German Shepherd body.

That is why I'm curious how someone would label this dog's hunt drive. Is what we see in the second set of videos "low", "medium", or "high" hunt drive ?

I think we may be talking about apples and oranges here. I'm talking about evaluating the dog's genetic hunt drive and NOT evaluating training.


Valor knew exactly what he needed to get, he started pretty methodically covering the ground. You will notice that he didn't even look at the owner when passing by, his focus was on the job. I understand that it was really the exercise, not the test, though, very well done.
I also think Valor has genetically higher hunt drive. Further, his pedigree also corroborates this.


On a side note, energy really has nothing to do with a good tracker. I think dogs like ppl may have different styles. My first dog tracked walking pace, he didn't loose focus when interrupted, he was going back to the track, changing gears was so easy for him. He worked problems on his own, we even worked week old tracks, it was just beautiful. He loved the tracking itself I think, it was fulfilling for him.
Here is David on "energy":

"Energy level: The bulk supply of energy a dog has to offer. Consider this a gas tank. The bigger the tank, the longer the dog can travel before recharging. I am going to go against popular opinion here and say that a high energy dog does not equal a dog that requires a lot of exercise. Energy level definitely plays a role in determining what it takes to satisfy a dog, but it is far from the only determining factor." - David Winners


^^^^^^^ You don't think energy has anything to do with how long a dog will search without tiring ?

If I remember correctly, Valor's sire is framed on the 3rd bloodline which brings endurance. It isn't a fluke that Valor has high hunt. Carmen is a pedigree genius. It would be interesting to see how the hunt drive is in the rest of that litter as I wouldn't expect all the pups to inherit super high hunt drive.

David also mentioned tracking is different from hunt drive.

My dog loves tracking too and is a natural. He's a natural at tracking big game and has several moose under his belt. Although, IMO, tracking dead or wounded animals is fairly easy for most German Shepherds and is not the same as tracking over pavement looking for a suspect in a city. And is definitely not the same as sniffing out bombs that may or may not be there.
 

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I didn't mean the dog was confused as not hunting, he was confused with the odor and where and how to find that ball, he was not ready to work in the conditions of the test and was kinda set up for failure, but you definitely saw more than I did.
The dog didn't fail. He found the ball lol. Albeit, with a little help.

IMO, the test showed the dogs true genetics in regards to hunt drive. I would imagine that this dog's hunt drive falls short of what most serious people like to see. On the other hand, IMO, I think a guy like David could turn this dog into a decent police K9.

I wasn't planning on posting this, but take a look at the 4th video which is a continuation to the 3rd video. Now, I know you know how to read basic canine body language. Look @ 1:43 on the timer and tell me what the dog thinks of my unfair test? lol

 
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