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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So what do folks use when evaluating team dogs.

We have been putting all new young adult prospects through the test at http://www.disasterdog.org/pdf/training/articles/Screening.pdf


and puppies through a preliminary PAWS type evaluation and just general observation with the understanding a more formal evaluation when it is fully grown...

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We also do some more nerve tests...slick floors, different surfaces, loud noises,

We do not require x-rays of team dogs though I encourage it - explaining how I spent good time on training Cyra only to discover she had HD and wash her and now I have had a high drive crazy pet on my hand for 9 years.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I would not knowingly EVER start a dog with HD in SAR and I washed one who developed HD even though it did not "appear" to be bothering her but I decided I would never be able to live with myself if the dog *missed* because she was working through pain.

I think if a dog has mild HD and no symptoms and is well on their way in training, I might consider continuing on but there would be a lot of monitoring with someone else who could be completely objective about the dog saying go/no go.
 

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We don't really have a screening like that. It's really unofficial. The prospect is just invited to bring their dog. Our lead will observe on puppy runs and see how the dogs responds and all that to it. They talk about their behaviors and habits and determine whether to continue. We have one or 2 dogs that will never certify but are out there training every day and the owners know this but still want them to be active in something and have talked to our Team lead about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
We wound up doing it because it is very hard to tell someone who has poured their heart and soul into training a dog that it just doesn't have what it takes to make the cut.

It is pretty easy to tell someone "you have not been to team training, you have not been training outside of team training" etc. but some dogs just don't have it and take sooo much more time than the ones that have a solid chance of being operational--we need to put the time and energy into those that do.

Some people don't have it in all areas either but, unlike the dogs, you can FIND the right place for a person with a good heart, committment, and desire to do right. {one important member of our team mans the base radio and keeps up with the folks who are out during a search because of a physical impairment}

EDIT-and we still are monitoring every step of the way and have sequential objectives before certification.
 

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I agree it would make for a better selection and it is easier in the beginning to say hey sorry you have to pass this eval before being on a team; they know up front if they don't pass, no team.

I do kind of like the way it's done here, though George has no issue saying "hey your dog won't cut it, I'm really sorry." Maybe we can include a few small evaluations like nerves, surfaces, distractions, sort of thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
There is some room for "go back and work on these things" and come back later but it gives folks an up front idea of what we look for.

We had one dog who was adopted and just did not KNOW the retrieve game so we gave him some help in bringing out the dogs latent drives and boom he actually IS a hunting machine.

It also depends on a team where everyone is at the moment. Right now we are simply not taking on ANY new dog handlers because we need to get all the current dogs op operational and we have several who are not there yet.

If we are going to ask folks to train on their own 2-3 days a week we need to be able to give them LOTs of attnetion on the team training days.
 

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This is true. What kinds of "on your own" training do you do? And is it exactly that? just you and your dog?
 

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We do evaluations for potential incoming dogs after the potential handler has been out a few times and feels they could be committed. Then we will look at the dog. We use a PAWS type evaluation for pups. Dogs are evaluated for surface sensitivity, ability to navigate through the woods, agility (as in the dogs ability to maneuver), dark buildings, noise sensitivity, dog aggression, people aggression, attention to handler, ability to focus and desire to work. They also need a strong willingness to want to play, and keep playing.

We do not use the FEMA criteria, but I understand why a lot of teams do. Frankly if one of my patrol dogs walks away with a total stranger, I need a new dog!!

I have rehabed more dogs than I care to think about, and two of our teammates do a lot of GSD puppy socialization work, so if we have a dog that comes in we think might need a little work but shows a lot of promise, we are willing to try and work them through it.
 

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I should have clarified we don't do that all at once. Generally it is over several training sessions unless we get to a point that the dog just isn't getting past. I think it takes a bit of time in many cases to really evaluate a dogs potential. Anyone can have an off day. Pups that do well though are started in training as soon as the handler desires (provided they are team members, on their way to being so, or have passed their SARTECH.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Whitney - our "on your own" traning is usually assignments such as work on part of the recall-find chain or set up some short problems with turns etc. basically a progression based on what we see during team training. Most members have friend who serve as victims and several get together to train with each other. I will go out and hide for teammates and they will set out blind HR problems for me - that may be one on one during the week.

We do the formal first evaluation right away and may send the prospective handler off with some things to work on, but the dog is not allowed to actively train with the team until the handler comes to three months worth of training and is making some progress on their other goals and seems to be working out. We will help them individually with some of the dog things they need to work on in the interim.
 

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We make the prospect members come out a few times without the dogs, to make sure they have a realistic expectation of what SAR work/training is really about.

The first thing we test with the dogs is drive. Balls on long strings to see if they will chase, independent possession, and hunt drive. If we get passed that we will then add all the environmental stuff.

My US&R dog was tested the same way, started with the balls on strings and then tested for the rubble portion.
 

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In your experience, how many dogs pass your first test? then how many of those remain the whole process?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Catu, we have only done with a few dogs......which have done well but then handlers are getting more savvy as they bring in the "next" dog to replace retiring dogs and not coming with pets. I will say though that one dog we were fairly unimpressed with but "gave a chance" is not really living up to our expectations..........

One area I can see where there may be better ways to evaluate would be trailing dogs but then, right now, we really don't need more trailing dogs and the most recent dog who was jam up on the testing is one of the best trailing dogs I have seen in a long time. It is a field bred lab.
 

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Not bad except for the walk off with my dog. My dog better not allow that to happen:) I would add gunfire test to cover nerves/sound sensitivity. I do a lot more blind retrieves and try to shut the dog down now as opposed to later in training. If the dog cannot withstand pressure in eval it is a wash. Hip xrays are a must:)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The LE we train with did a gunshot test on Beau I think the first day. The wall room has slick floors and is in an old factory with all kinds of *stuff* - no problems there. I also did open metal steps (and we check the dogs out just to see)

The tie out thing is something I think a dog needs to be conditioned to-we do want to see if the dog is nervous when mom or dad leaves but usually the social stuff is more on lead with the handler there. Actually they are more likely to be a goober then anyway I think.

We do want others to be able to transport our dogs and have actually had that happen on searches. [I did not feel I was a wuss when I declined to ride on an ATV (not a gator, an ATV designed for one person) with two other folks on a public highway with my dog draped across my lap!--and none of us were flyweights--hahaha---so he got thrown in the back of the coroners SUV while I rode the ATV---she said "he was a perfect gentleman" just kind of squeezed himself in among her boxes of stuff--she does not transport bodies in that SUV :) ]

But you cannot work a dog you have to socialize to every new thing. It is either confident or it is not.
 

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I think their is a lot of misconception from the FEMA / SAR handlers on the walkaway. That if dogs can't do that they aren't social. That isn't the case at all. I can put any of my boys in a vehicle with someone, and they are fine. Or I can hand someone the lead, and they can walk them off if needed (although they won't usually listen to them). My oldest male has been smothered by brownies, and bear hugged by a victim's mother, etc. so he is quite social. But that is completely different from having an unknown person come up and walk away with my dog.
 

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I agree 100% that has nothing to do with nerves or socialization. If my GSD allowed a stranger to walk away with him he should not be bred. Allowing a team member to take him,known to the dog or my handing someone the leash is a different situation
 

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Whitney - our "on your own" traning is usually assignments such as work on part of the recall-find chain or set up some short problems with turns etc. basically a progression based on what we see during team training. Most members have friend who serve as victims and several get together to train with each other. I will go out and hide for teammates and they will set out blind HR problems for me - that may be one on one during the week.

We do the formal first evaluation right away and may send the prospective handler off with some things to work on, but the dog is not allowed to actively train with the team until the handler comes to three months worth of training and is making some progress on their other goals and seems to be working out. We will help them individually with some of the dog things they need to work on in the interim.
I know that in the beginning we had homework to work on but it is apparent that when the dog gets to a certain point it's up to the handler to train during the week outside team days. I think working outside of the one day a week is a fantastic idea.

Have any suggestions on what types of things I can do with Titan outside of training just by myself? Or does most things have to do with one other person. (don't take this the wrong way, my team is wonderful and very very knowledgeable, I just like to hear what other people are doing)

I agree 100% that has nothing to do with nerves or socialization. If my GSD allowed a stranger to walk away with him he should not be bred. Allowing a team member to take him,known to the dog or my handing someone the leash is a different situation
Have you ever tested that? I wonder honestly what Titan would do if a stranger just came up to him and took him away. Would he go willingly or not... I have done the whole CGC training portion where he will have to stay with the trainer while I go behind a wall without him fussing. But that's more like "mom gave me to this person so it's ok" type mentality I think. I have deployed a bit and had to give him to friends in a moment's notice, but never a complete stranger so this now makes me super curious at what he would do.

On the gunshot note.. I think that's a fantastic idea. I think that those type of nerve tests should be done with our team. I have never done anything specific with Titan but I know he is a very sound confident dog. When it comes to loud noises.. I guess it helps that I live by base behind the range so night ops training goes on a lot when we get home and he isn't phased. As for surfaces, that dog will attempt to go anywhere I tell him as long as I tell him to. When we have done building searches in Germany, we had people climb up on warehouse shelves to see how the dogs responded and Titan was the only dog that managed to climb on all our tac boxes and other junk to try to get to the victim. It was fascinating to see that come out of him without any training. Sorry I am long winded, my point is.. I like the idea of nerve testing, and agree that either the dog has it or doesn't and you shouldn't have to train it into them or you are going to be screwed when something new is introduced that you haven't trained for.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
We do have a team requirement that a TEAMMATE must be able to remove the dog from its crate because during a search someone on the team may need to break your dog if you are out as a grooundpounder. That said, Grim actually made one person pee her pants when she leaned up on my truck and he went off on her.....though he is a creampuff....have also seen a couple of police officers fly off of my tailgate when they decided it was a good place to rest.

Most outside training I am talking about is search training with friends or teammates. Once you progress to real search scenarios it is hard for a team to provide that for everyone at every training.
 
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