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Discussion Starter #1
My "homework" is to pick what I want Elsa to do for an indication of a find. I have decided I don't want her to do the body slam. I'm thinking a bark? She hardly ever barks, so I would be able to pick up on it.

What does everyone else use?
 

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I thought when certifying to do SAR it's very specific how the dog "alerts" a find????????????????????
Research I have read says it's very very important....as I have never read anything about a body slam, however maybe the SAR folks here can explain.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Um, the "body slam"/"jump up"/"target handlers body" is actually a very common alert.
 

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A lot of folks use a body slam or some variation such as a tug at a toy on handlers belt or even just poking into your hip with the nose. It does not have to be the hard jump on your body. I like the jamming the nose into the hip - easy to train and maintain with a small tidbit of food with the major reward when they get you to the victim. (You have to continue to reinforce this behavior in training, something people forget!)

Keep is something an exhausted dog can still do and you won't misread.

The bark -- sometimes the problem with that is the dog has too much to mentally "shift gears" and is often harder to build. Depends on the dog whether the bark will work or be a great experience in frustration. If it is not natural for the dog don't push it. .

I have seen passive indication like a return and a sit really mess with the dog that is real shift of gears, that many just cant do because it takes them out of motion.


Training the indication is one place a lot of people get hung up on and the most important thing you actually "train" Whatever you do get the final indication NAILED and 100% before going any further - and whatever you do don't go changing it around too much! make it easy and fun for the dog.

Renee -a detection dog may do an alert as in a passive alert but the body slam etc all ways to tell you "found them, now follow me NOW" and they will repeate it until they get you there.

Oh, I work an HRD dog now but I had my old area search dog just bite a bringsel that was on MY belt.
 

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Ok, well this is why I LOVE this forum, I never stop learning.:) I thought it was always a return with a sit....
 

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The alert for the different types of detection is always different... I am guessing your GSD is training for Air Scent and not tracking.

As far as I know though for FEMA which has the most stringent certification standards the dog must stay with the victim/target and have an audible aka bark alert as the indicator.

There are MANY different standards out there though that I have found and read. It all honestly depends on what is required in your region or with the K9 SAR group you are with.
 

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I use the bark at where the victim is, as do all the teams I've trained with. Since our dogs do wilderness and urban search we don't want them going back and forth on the rubble.
 

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I use the bark at where the victim is, as do all the teams I've trained with. Since our dogs do wilderness and urban search we don't want them going back and forth on the rubble.
Yeah that was my understanding and the main reason why it is a FEMA standard for K9 SAR.
 

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Our dogs track for fun and we us the bark when they find the item in home. Of course since this is just for fun it may not be correct for real SR work;)
 

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My dog indicates by tugging a toy hanging on my side. The toy (firehose) is not the same as my reward toy. Some handlers use the same toy for the indication and reward. This can work, but some dogs have a tendency to self-reward if you do that. I'll give my thoughts on other indications that I have seen.

Body slam: possibly dangerous with some dogs, especially in sketchy terrain. Can cause bruises or worse. Usually the handler will prep for the indication by facing toward the dog and bracing for the impact. If you are not sure whether the dog is coming back to indicate, I think you could inadvertently cue the indication by bracing yourself.

Sit at handler: usually when a dog is coming back to indicate, it is very excited and teaching it to passively sit or lie down can be more difficult than a more active indication.

Bark at handler: when the dog is tired and panting, getting the barks out can be difficult for some dogs. The bark attempts can still be quite readable though. I followed a dog team with this indication recently and was very impressed. When the handler was walking the dog would get in front of him before indicating. And when he was hung up on a big log that he was climbing over, the indication was still very obvious.

Bark and hold: great for rubble, not acceptable for the wilderness in my area. With terrain, trees, wind, rivers, etc and the dog ranging a long way, it can be impossible to hear the barking so a refind is necessary.

Touch hand at side: I don't get this one. Maybe it can work in some situations, but what if you are doing something else with your hand? How can you do it without cueing the dog?

Does a little hop and a twist then looks back with cocked head: Ok, I made this particular one up, but some people end up with an indication that is difficult to explain or read by anybody but the handler. My guess is that these people didn't start out to train the behavior, but it has evolved to something that the handler has somehow reinforced, perhaps accidentally. In my opinion it is much better to choose something clear, simple, and easy to articulate, then stick with it. When I am on a search and I have a police officer following me and I'm asked "what does your dog do when he finds someone?", I am glad that I can simply say "he tugs this toy" rather than going into some long involved explanation.

Once you have the behavior trained, proof it in all kinds of situations. The dog should be able to indicate no matter what way you are facing, or if you are preoccupied by looking at a map or talking on the radio. What if you are walking in thick brush on a steep hillside at night? Train for such situations gradually so your dog gets accustomed to indicating in non-ideal conditions and so you know when your dog may be reluctant to indicate.

There is something to be said for choosing an alert the dog is naturally inclined to do. So you should consider what indication could be best for you and your dog. Once you decide however, stick with it. You will probably need to shape the behavior over time though. By this I mean your criteria for an acceptable indication may start out fuzzy ("nudges the toy with his nose") and progresses to very clear ("bites the toy and tugs it hard"). But in training don't let it regress or you will train your dog to not give a clear indication.
 

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For a cross trained disaster/wilderness dog bark and hold makes sense but I really do not like it for wilderness which is what the majority of dogs are.

It can be really hard to pinpoint the source of a bark a half mile away - try it. Go out in the woods and yell and try to find that person. It gets really interesting with hills and heavy vegetation.

Plus if I had a SAR dog barking and holding a lost hunter I imagine the next sound I hear might just be gunfilre and other lost people could bolt etc.
 

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Ok, well this is why I LOVE this forum, I never stop learning.:) I thought it was always a return with a sit....
Me too. This topic is very interesting to me, especially since Indra is going to be trained as a Rescue once we get to the US and I can already read good information on here. :wub:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks guys! I'm going to really have to think about this one. The body slam makes me way too nervous. Most of the searches the group I'm getting involved with are local on somewhat flat ground, but they can be deployed all over the state. I really can't imagine being on a gorge of somewhere in the High Peaks on a steep hill getting body slammed by Elsa.

As far as a bark and hold...same thing here as what others have concerns about. It will be mostly wilderness and I don't think that will work out. Especially everyone on the team is trained for a refind right now.

I'd say her most natural behavior is sitting when she gets to me, but she ALWAYS does that. She's a very "polite" dog and loves her fronts, so that's almost automatic. I'm not sure if I could train out of her doing that on a day to day basis enough for it to be an effective indicator. Same with downs. If she thinks I want something from her, she usually will just throw herself on the ground.

Barking is NOT natural to her, which I thought might be beneficial because I would have no question at all that she was alerting me. But it sounds like that might be too hard to train if she isn't a natural barker?

Sooo. How about using my leg as a target, but not the full on jump? Maybe I can kind of get her to paw my calf/shin or something like that.

Ahh! I knew this was going to be a tough thing to do!
 

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What I would recommend is you can try it and - WITHOUT using it as part of search (right now you should not be doing a recall refind anything until the alert is a slam dunk)

See if you can solicit the behavior then with training build it to where your dog will do on command and not something she would randomly do. If you get something that seems workable go from there.
 

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I have done some cross training on rubble using my airscent refind. On a real search on rubble the handler may be able to tell when a find has been made by the body language and then can direct the dog to wait instead of following through with the refind. Note that the IPWDA SAR disaster standard permits either a bark alert or a refind.

For a cross trained disaster/wilderness dog bark and hold makes sense but I really do not like it for wilderness which is what the majority of dogs are.
 

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If you teach your dog to bark on command, then it should be pretty easy to incorporate it into runaway exercises. Many dogs chosen for this work are highly motivated to get their reward so once they learn what is expected from them they will do whatever you want.

It should also be pretty easy to train your dog to paw your leg on command, perhaps using a clicker and treats in your home. However, keep in mind that when you try to incorporate this into a runaway exercise, if done right, your dog will be super excited and running back at you full speed. The little leg paw that you trained at home could now have a lot of momentum behind it and you may find it is not so gentle as it was at home.

I prefer a tug on a toy as it is unmistakeable yet does not involve any direct contact with my body.

Barking is NOT natural to her, which I thought might be beneficial because I would have no question at all that she was alerting me. But it sounds like that might be too hard to train if she isn't a natural barker?

Sooo. How about using my leg as a target, but not the full on jump? Maybe I can kind of get her to paw my calf/shin or something like that.

Ahh! I knew this was going to be a tough thing to do!
 

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First things first. What is your reward system? Meaning what is driving the dog to search? Does the dog have an insatiable desire to have that reward.
Why not train a refind?
 

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I think she is training a refind........

She is just wanting the behavior after the dog finds the victim and returns to the handler to take them to the victim. bump, bark, tug, etc.

At least that is how I read it.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yes Nancy that is correct :)

As far as reward. I have always used tennis balls for everything but there is some concern when I am training that our "victims" might get bitten when she grabs it on the find. Soooo. I'm looking for something else that rivals the tennis ball chop. She is easy to motivate, but she'll rip our couch apart or almost knock over a bookcase to get to those things!
 

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A good ball on a string? A kong wubba? A tug?

I have a floating ball on a rope I REALLY like from England but I cant find it in the states :(
 
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