Where to start please?

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Where to start please?

Postby spudlet » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:22 pm

What basics need to be in place before we can start training proper, please? Anything above and beyond basic obedience - sit, stay, recall, heel etc?
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Re: Where to start please?

Postby StuartL » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:10 pm

It's important that you find a SAR dog organisation near you to help with training but in the absence of that...

Start by getting the dog interested in Something. Most SAR handlers use balls or a tangible toy (e.g. tug rope) but there's no reason you can't start with food or praise if they work better for you. Long term you want to be moving onto a physical reward like a toy as the problem with training with food is that dogs get full :D

Once you've got the dog interested in the Thing then start using the Thing as a reward for training. For example Echo goes nuts for solid rubber balls so I use them as the reward to keep her focus on me. If she starts to get distracted or lose track of what I'm trying to teach her I show her the reward again (where show means waft under her nose) and give her a more basic command she can do easily (e.g. sit). I reward that command, remind her what she's working for and go back to where we were more slowly.

You'll soon find that your dog will know that when the Thing comes out he/she is expected to do two things:

1) Pay attention to you.

2) Follow your instruction and in doing so get a fun reward.

Now you're ready to get the dog searching for people. It's at this point you realise you don't have anywhere enough friends as you don't want to use the same people each time. Get your volunteer to take the Thing, show it to the dog and run off a short distance. Hold the dog back and release him/her with your chosen search command e.g. "search", "go search, "find", "go find", "sasquatch", whatever you choose. The word shouldn't sound too much like another command you use in training, I chose to use 'go find' as 'search' starts the same as 'sit'. Your mileage may vary.

If the dog is excited enough he/she will barrel off down the track to your friend and as soon as he/she gets within arms length your friend should reward the dog. Balls should be thrown, tug ropes should be pulled and praise should be given.

Each time he/she appears to have got it make it slightly more complicated, maybe a slight increase in distance or get your friend to hide out of sight. If he/she gets confused just back off the training to a level they're comfortable with and rinse/repeat.

Repeat until he/she can find a good array of friends flawlessly :)

And remember the thing that everyone (including me) forgets: More short training sessions, not fewer longer training sessions. Give your dog time to think about the training rather than just workworkwork.
I see dog people
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Re: Where to start please?

Postby spudlet » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:34 pm

Thank you!

Now remember, I do have a gundog, they are NEVER full [laugh]

I am in the process of joining the local SAR team anyway, but was just wanting to know what we could be working on in the meantime as totally understandably they have said that I need to be a proper member before they give too much help, to make sure I won't vanish off into the distance if it gets too tricky. So was wondering what we could brush up on to get a headstart.

Now, we use 'find it' to search for a retrieve (at the moment a dummy, or his rubber ball when he has a marking fail [rolleyes] ) so I was going to use a random word to teach him to look for people - possibly even the word 'people' to avoid confusion. Also - do lowland SAR dogs wear those dinky little jackets? As if so I will get a normal hi-viz type one to use in training, again to help differentiate between the jobs. After all, it would never do for him to try and retrieve the misper (check out my use of the terminology after only one training session!) - he's only little after all [laugh]

We use clicker training, so I think I will give my body (hello, Mum! Got a job for you this weekend...) the clicker to begin with as well as a toy to reinforce the idea, then we'll phase the clicker out as with other training we have done.
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Re: Where to start please?

Postby lou » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:24 pm

All my dogs were clicker trained search and rescue.

A jacket or a harness for working is what the dogs wear. Its a good idea as you do other work with the dog to get this ASAP and put it on for each little search session you are doing. You will soon enough find that as soon as the jacket comes out the dog goes mental! you can get cheap ones in most supermarkets or pet shops.

As far as your original question about what to teach before. A sound recall and confidence with people and you are already winning.

You are welcome to join us any time for extra training.

Lou x
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Re: Where to start please?

Postby spudlet » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:33 pm

Fantastic, a reason for shopping :grin: I think it will really help him to differentiate between his jobs (well, to him games of course).

Confidence with people - he comes to work with me, and so sees people in the office all the time. He also gets stuck on the events stand with me sometimes, as he is great at dragging the kids in - they fuss him, while I campaign at their parents! We're a team [laugh] He has a good spaniel recall - which is to say, he won't always turn on a sixpence and sprint right back (although he's getting better all the time as he grows up!), but he gets round to it fairly quickly [ninja]

Thank you for the advice and kind offer :)
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Re: Where to start please?

Postby Daryl » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:51 pm

My top tip would be to do your homework before even thinking about training!

You obviously speak dog to a certain extent which is very useful, but its important that you understand the fundamentals of SAR Dog training and also the fact that there is more than one way to achieve the same goal.

Buy yourself as many books on the subject as possible, read them all and combine their techniques.

The ARDA Manual and Ready! are an absolute must read and will set you in good stead to move forward. The important thing is that you train your dog - treat team training nights as a time to gain help from experienced people, firefight issues that you might be having in a particular stage in your training and not as a dog training or puppy class.

In my team I can definitely tell the difference between those that take this advice on board and those that don't!!!

Have fun, it can be the most rewarding thing that you have ever done!!!
Daryl Toogood
President
Berkshire Search & Rescue Dogs

"I can explain it in Dog, but you only listen in Human."
-- Gaspode the wonder dog
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Re: Where to start please?

Postby rich&sassy » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:07 pm

Daryl

is the ARDA one the "Training the K-9 Hero " book?
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Re: Where to start please?

Postby Daryl » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:12 pm

Yes
Daryl Toogood
President
Berkshire Search & Rescue Dogs

"I can explain it in Dog, but you only listen in Human."
-- Gaspode the wonder dog
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Re: Where to start please?

Postby spudlet » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:30 pm

Thanks for the recommendation. Henry was completely untrained when I got him, and he is now a much happier, much changed dog so I'd like to think I'm not a complete beginner at training. My original question was intended to see if there were any special requirements, such as a stop whistle (which we are in any case establishing) or similar, that I needed to work on.

I have ordered the book and will read it with great interest.
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