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Discussion Starter #1
I recently gotten into a search and rescue group and my captain will be accessing my 96 lbs 1 year 6 month old GS male on March 17th. He does know his basic commands, but because of his age he is still rather playful.

I was hoping you could give me a basic idea of what is normally expected of a SAR dog. And also what is the ideal training methods and what should be stressed.

I would really appreciate feed back, Thanks!
 

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How is his hunt drive? Have you taught him to tug as a reward?

Also, for true SAR dogs, a 96lb dog would not be my first recommendation. These are dogs that could possibly have to be caried, put on skidoo's, in helicopters, etc...tight spaces suck with large dogs. Most true SAR people look for dogs who are going to be in the 50lb range, maybe 60.

Of course, nothing is stopping you from learning with this boy. If SAR is something YOU want to do, take this opportunity to learn what you and your dog need to be able to do, and what tasks may be asked of you. If you get really serious about it later on, you can find a dog that was built for it, both mentally and physically.

Gorgeous pup!
 

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We usually put prospects through a test using the FEMA screening guidelines. It gives an idea of the kind of testing. He *is* a big boy. Most of us do tend to like them a bit smaller for agility reasons and things like fitting in small spaces (my dog has had to ride on my lap before and in gators and ATVs etc. not to mention being on a small boat)

That said, if you can manage a dog that size, there are certainly bloodhounds who are bigger than that.......He is a handsome fellow.

There are many different ways to train a SAR dog. The ideal thing is that the team has some sort of training progression for you to follow, allows you to question them and also learn outside of the team, and has a path to certification (preferable national or state) and operational status.

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

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Discussion Starter #4
He has a wonderful hunt drive, he loves to scent, we spend hours on trailing in the woods. and no i was always taught that tug teaches aggressiveness, if however its not i would love to be corrected on that.

He is big yes, but he is very agile

Thanks for the comments, they are very helpful!
 

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Tug is a great reward for your dog but so is ball play if he likes that. Some folks who are not used to our working GSDs have to be taught how to hold and play tug with the dogs. There is an element of fear for some folks but a dog who knows the rules of engagement is safe to play with. I think there is some good Michael Ellis videos on playing tug with your dog. Play it by ear with the team....if he would go through fire and brimstone for a ball, there ya go.
 

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Yea, I think he is a fetch player to the death. I'm just concerned he hasn't been socialized with small animals enough, that's what has me in a panic for this tryout.
 

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Well don't panic. They are probably looking at the underlying dog and if they see a problem area related to training would probably send you home to work on it and come back. Now if there is overt dog or human aggression, that for us is a wash. If you are talking furry critter prey drive, that is a training problem that will HAVE to be resolved in the early parts of training.
 

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What ever happened to the issue with charging at people while he was tied out? You never responded back to your thread.
 

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No he has zero dog and human aggression, i'm very impressed at how he acts among dogs and humans, as long as they are happy to see him, hes happy to see them. Though he does tend to mount dogs, we are working to correct that, and it has become much less frequent.
 

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My apologies Emoore! I would first like to clarify that he charged from excitement and never aggression. And we have since tried a harness instead of the standard collar, and it has completely changed his behavior on line and leash, we are in the process of putting in an electric fence, to get him off the leash once and for all. I agree, that i don't like the line.


What ever happened to the issue with charging at people while he was tied out? You never responded back to your thread.
 

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My apologies Emoore! I would first like to clarify that he charged from excitement and never aggression. And we have since tried a harness instead of the standard collar, and it has completely changed his behavior on line and leash, we are in the process of putting in an electric fence, to get him off the leash once and for all. I agree, that i don't like the line.
Nice! Good to hear.
 

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Nice looking dog. What type of SAR are you looking at doing? Wilderness, HRD, USAR? I think that is important to decide. I have two GSDs that I work, the one would lay in front of a train for his ball while the other is all for tug. One is Wilderness and the other FEMA USAR. My wilderness dog is 90lbs lanky and can cover ground fast. My FEMA is 70lbs short, quick and agile like a border collie. How are his nerves? Is he noise reactive, does he get distracted on different terrain? The best thing to do would be to continue to work with this team, be open to new training methods, and if he doesn't work for SAR...you still have a GORGEOUS dog ;)
 

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I have a feeling he will excel most at HRD, he has a fantastic follow through with his scent. i don't believe he is a nervous dog, as for being noise reactive, he looks to me to see if i want him to check anything out, he does have a keen ear, like most dogs. as far as distraction goes i am not sure how to answer, my biggest fear is that he will get off track by seeing a deer or cat.

Nice looking dog. What type of SAR are you looking at doing? Wilderness, HRD, USAR? I think that is important to decide. I have two GSDs that I work, the one would lay in front of a train for his ball while the other is all for tug. One is Wilderness and the other FEMA USAR. My wilderness dog is 90lbs lanky and can cover ground fast. My FEMA is 70lbs short, quick and agile like a border collie. How are his nerves? Is he noise reactive, does he get distracted on different terrain? The best thing to do would be to continue to work with this team, be open to new training methods, and if he doesn't work for SAR...you still have a GORGEOUS dog ;)
 

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Yea, I think he is a fetch player to the death. I'm just concerned he hasn't been socialized with small animals enough, that's what has me in a panic for this tryout.
I have a feeling he will excel most at HRD, he has a fantastic follow through with his scent. i don't believe he is a nervous dog, as for being noise reactive, he looks to me to see if i want him to check anything out, he does have a keen ear, like most dogs. as far as distraction goes i am not sure how to answer, my biggest fear is that he will get off track by seeing a deer or cat.
I haven't been training SAR for very long like the rest of these guys (only abotu a year) so this is just my experience talking..

Titan is so squirrel happy it's ridiculous. He does fantastic though in the woods once he knows what he's out there for. It's his all time favorite game.. as soon as I say "Search!" he's off and knows that he has to find someone so he can play tug/fetch with his tire :) Now.. this isn't to say he doesn't get distracted ever.. ex: last weekend he was taunted by a squirrel and took off.. a quick "leave it" and recall then we started again.. leaving the squirrel in the dust.. hehe..

Titan too is about 96-100lbs depending on the day.. our team lead has 2 in the 90-100 lb range that are certified as well. I agree that smaller dogs are able to get around easier and for certain situations that were listed are better suited for the job, but don't let that discourage you.. stick with your team, learn from them as a handler and trainer and you will do great.

Since you said he has a good nose on him, have you thought about tracking?
 
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