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Old 04-11-2016, 08:53 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Tracking Progression

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Knauf View Post
Regarding the scent article. Does it mess with the dog when he starts on a fresher, or older scent picture of the same target? How the hell does the dog connect the dots from a month old scent article to a 2 week old track old track? In a perfect world you would have a scent article that was worn/touched at the same time the person went missing. Such and interesting phenomena.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Knauf View Post
I kinda get that from her response but time and scent degradation would leave a different scent picture I would think. Unless the dog is taking certain components of that scent picture that still matches the one offered to him to target. Just my guess anyway. In no way am I even on the same planet when it comes to this stuff. I'm picking brains here for my own selfish reasons.
Yes, and no. Yes, it helps when working with aged trails if you have a scent source of the same degraded age as the track. No, you donít have to but sometimes you will need some details to understand why the dog does something. Itís not so much the handler has to know but someone should to connect a few dots if necessary. Howard, you are not so far off with your thinking.

To illustrate, can you both stand another war story? I work from empirical evidence and need a story to hang the details from.

Once upon a time, we got the call to work a rape case. For reasons that escape me now, LE didnít have us collect a scent article from the scene but instead presented us with an item from evidence storage that they had secured 6 months prior. When I scented my dog on this item, the dog left the scene and trailed into a neighborhood. We went to a lot of houses but specific locations. Side windows, back doors, certain spots in the backyards until I finally got the V8 moment and realized the dog was earmarking Peeping Tom behavior. A homeowner caught us in her backyard and when my PD flanker asked if she had seen anything unusual, she said that several weeks ago she saw this person [giving a description] and said ďhe was standing back there in those bushes right where that lady is with her dogÖ..Ē We went all over that neighborhood. Finally, we ended up at a house and the dog wouldnít leave. Mine was not the only dog that took this meandering course. The handlers are all scratching their collective heads because as the crow flies the crime scene wasnít that far from this house. The big question was ďwhy didnít the dogs go from Point A to Point B?Ē The father gave us a fresh scent article from the home. When scented on the new item, all the dogs collectively went in a beeline from A to B. No meandering. So we started experimenting with mismatched scent articles and track ages. Again based on empirical knowledge, the dogs are using more than base ďhumanĒ scent. Itís more complex than that.

Going back to the above story, the father said that about 2 weeks ago the son had just had his meds changed from what he was taking 6 months prior. Imagine when you scent the dog you are handing him a bouquet of odor based on the base human scent that is mixed with the metabolites of foods and chemicals we ingest (meds, nicotine, recreational drug use, spices such as garlic or peppers, etc) as well as topical applications of perfumes, deodorants, etc plus the things we wear or are exposed to via second-hand transfer. Consider the dogís nose is so sophisticated that they can break down and analyze this mish-mash. I imagine this as a bar code to give me something visual to work off of. When we scented our dogs on the first article we handed them a specific scent picture we wanted them to follow. [Letís call this scent picture E-D-C-B-A] Yes, itís complex but its what allows trailing dogs to function in a human scent target rich urban environment. The dogs worked down the scent tree first matching the entire scent picture until gradually being forced to the sole thing remaining, which is how we ended up finally at the house. E-D-C-B-A then D-C-B-A then C-B-A, then B-A and finally A. Then when we presented a current up-to-date scent article [G-F-C-B-A] the dogs had an exact match going from the crime scene to the house.

When collecting or presented a scent article if helps to understand what time frame the item was collected in. When working with mismatched article age vs track age the dog may end up doing some zigging around before they finally zag and you end up with an answer. This is not the dog farting around because he likes to see you walk although non-canine flankers may not understand what is happening and thus get impatient with the complex process the dog is working through. Itís like putting a puzzle together when you lack a picture on the cover.

And just to keep things interesting, working off the chemical theory, I had a friend scent their dog only on the medication that was being taken by an individual who had laid a track in an urban setting. The dog had no problem following and locating the subject not by using their human odor but only on the chemical smell of the metabolized medication. Now if that doesnít boggle your mind than I donít know what would.
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Old 04-11-2016, 09:15 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I think you answered this question awhile back Sarah, however, since it is on topic I will ask again for myself and all reading... For the extremely long aged tracks (extreme being weeks to months) do you solely practice those type of aged tracks (and do you do them blind/double blind in training) and are the dogs used solely used for long ages tracks... I ask, as I would imagine it being a speciality unit..

I think most LE don't realize the amazing potential the dogs nose has trailing wise as they are multitasking big time and used to running their dogs off of fear scent.. And highly contaminated PLS's that have fear scent from the perpetrator(s), victim(s) and possibly bystanders.. Just getting out of the gate is impressive.. To be open minded and training to the levels Howard has/is awesome and I applaud you as well!
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Old 04-11-2016, 09:19 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Tracking Progression

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To illustrate, can you both stand another war story?

Now if that doesnít boggle your mind than I donít know what would.
Yes. That was a good story! I remember it well as you shared it before but this time there was more detail and a different context in which it was told. This is an excellent example to support why I don't mind when people revisit topics that have been addressed before. Certain ones we probably could do without, but they're pretty few and far between.

And very little boggles my mind when it comes to a dogs ability to work a track, locate odor, etc.
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Old 04-11-2016, 11:44 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Tracking Progression

Sarah, Thank you for the !!!OUTSTANDING POST!!!
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Old 04-12-2016, 06:46 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Tracking Progression

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Originally Posted by Misty Wegner View Post
For the extremely long aged tracks (extreme being weeks to months) do you solely practice those type of aged tracks (and do you do them blind/double blind in training) and are the dogs used solely used for long ages tracks... I ask, as I would imagine it being a speciality unit..
yes, I practice the aged trails. Sometimes blind - [double blind is a misnomer because over half the time in training I'm running without a flanker] - sometimes I know cardinal points - like the lightly aged trailing video I have on my New Puppy thread aka the Gus thread where I told the subject to get travel to various points however they like but end up wherever or go past this point.

No, the dogs are not used solely for aged work. I work "normal" stuff too because I'm the trailing resource for a couple of SAR teams. I cert through NAPWDA/VPWDA and that standard is 1.5 miles, aged 1 hour. I remember one test where the MT got off the phone with the runner and told me "this is a real type search. The runner's lost and don't know where they are at so I told them to stop walking and have a seat. If you don't come back with them, I guess you fail. "

Here's the thing with working aged trails. You have the subject lay the trail and then tell them to leave and not come back. No re-inserting the runner at the end of the problem. Depending on weather conditions it can screw you up because the dog 9 times out of 10 will leave the old track if they catch fresher scent from another direction. I'm not going to punish a dog who takes fresher scent by dragging them back to an old one.

The other thing is to work variable aged trails almost from the beginning. Once they are past visual puppy runaways and have the idea of following human scent you start to mix-up the trail age. I think the 3rd trail I put Sam on, as a puppy, was one that was 10 days old. I wanted to see if I could at least get a start out of him never dreaming he would actually be able to do it. Not only got the start but got the track as well until he got tired and I stopped him. One of the things you do if you only work tracks of a certain age is *fix* the dog's nose to a certain age point. Then when you throw them on a really old trail, you will usually get a negative because of the lack of exposure to the chemical changes that occur with human scent. Less of a problem if you use scent articles as old as the track itself but can be an issue. The other hang-up is the human half. The handler who just KNOWS there is no way the dog can do this and all that negativity gets transmitted down the lead and makes the dog hesitate and freeze up. The team does just fine as long as the HANDLER doesn't know to much. That's one reason, I ask to know little beyond a starting point. It keeps me from screwing up the dog.
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Old 04-12-2016, 09:56 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Thanks Sarah. That is great explanations for how and why. I have run my girl on 72+hr and had her golden, and I have seen her alert on spots subject sat or hid a week prior while running a different track (same subject). I don't practice really old tracks as one, LE isn't apt to call a trailing dog im anyway (I just respond to the callout (I am on roster) anyway to be used however they deem fit.. The surrounding counties are much more willing and excited to work with a trailing dog and have received me with open arms) and that would not be the usual type of calls (although, I guess it might be as I am further away and thus add aging to the trail, lol). HOWEVER, I think it absolutely wide to expose them to all sorts of ages on trails. We change scenarios, scent articles (the more unusual the better) and try to 'trick' the dogs so they are exposed to the wackiness of the world.

My girl never batted an eye to aging, and yes, she is definitely one to shortcut to fresher scent if it is available (good if actual callout, not so good when training, lol). My male was hesitant at first to tracks more than 7hrs old.. He is a much more sensitive and secure but not naturally bold dog (he is maturing into one, and is really a detail oriented dog, he is one to check to be sure it is OK with management before embarking on something new to start. If encountered on the trail already, he absorbs it like it's routine) so we practice aged trails with him often. Now, he moves confidently at the start.. But my point was seeing how the scent change affected him...

My log book has many variations of 'blind', 'known', etc.. Double blind for me is like an actual callout, PLS is all you get for the most part, lol.. But blind can still be with a general known ending, or a landmark crossed, or something to that end... I try to train on double blind or mostly blind trails more than anything, as I find it keepsy confidence in my dogs.. If I train toany technical trails where I know all the variables, I find it harder for me to wean myself off them... I hate that, lol.. My poor dogs would be so much better off if I could stay put of the way, haha..

Love reading everyone's responses, stories, experiences and thoughts.. I learn so much and glean ideas
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Old 04-12-2016, 10:43 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Tracking Progression

Misty,

I will throw a caveat out there for what it's worth. Be careful telling people you work trails beyond a certain age. There is a certain sect in the SAR K9 world that is frigging vicious against handlers who work outside of what's considered the traditional norm. The detectives don't seem to have a problem with it but your peers probably will. Train for yourself and to extend your knowledge but be prepared for the sniggering and comments of "you're drinking the juice" or running "Kool-Aid" trails. They will try to grind you up and roll over your grave.
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Old 04-12-2016, 01:03 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Tracking Progression

Sarah, thanks for the recap! Awesome job. I've known for a long time that dogs will use most any type of available odor to create that sight picture in their mind. There's no reason why they wouldn't use non biological odors as part of that picture. When doing hard surface training I have no doubt that those additional odors are being used, possible more so than on soft surface tracks. We have switched our tracking to mostly hard surface as it really tests the dogs abilities, and expands their effectiveness. Anything other than a hard surface is childs play now and our tracking success rate has skyrocketed! I reviewed my boy's deployment records and can see an outstanding proficiency in his work. We document all real live tracks as confirmed or unconfirmed. I'm happy to say that I haven't had an unconfirmed track since November of last year. Now, not every track came up with a body but evidence found on the track and witness confirmation has confirmed that we as a team are doing something right. My boy has been in service for 2 1/2 years now and he has a clue. He knows the game and he knows what's waiting for him at the end of the track. Real life experiences has driven him even harder as he does quite enjoy engaging bad guys. No matter how the track ends he always gets what he wants or gets lots of praise from me for doing a good job. He's what we call push button now.

As a PSD we do have a narrow focus, this is true but I'm all about making him as good as he can be which in the end makes me look good to my peers. See? Selfish. Oh, and I like to get the bad guys too!
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Old 04-12-2016, 03:23 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Howard, I don't think being SAR or police, fire fighter, Dr etc is because of altruism.. At least not solely.. We always have some motivation to do what we do (even dogs who love to do whatever they love.. We use that desire and mold it) that has personal gains. I admire the fact you train specifically for trails and are challenging yourself.. Of course bite work is more exciting for most LE and the dog, but you have to catch the bad guys first and you are making yourself into a highly effective team. Great job!

Thanks for the heads up Sarah.. Ironically, the LE in my teams County is very much in the mindset that scent is only viable for a couple hours max.. I've tried explaining the difference between how police dogs train (most, as Howard is proving not all are throwing in the towel ) and how SAR trailing dogs are trained (especially being solely for nosework) and the scent picture of scent article vs fear scent, and the training for aged trails etc... That hasn't worked at all, lol.. I figure the proof will come with the surrounding areas and the finds we will have with them.. Ultimately, a successful record will tell the truth more than any quoted statistics or arguments for the latter... Still, I am usually cautious about what I say I do for normal trainings with others.. Although I am willing to try most anything to see how the dogs react to the conditions..
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Old 04-12-2016, 04:21 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Tracking Progression

Howard,

Now I know you are amazing! You, Sir, are absolutely tiddley-wink awesome! Stupendous even! Congrats on you and your dog's accomplishments!
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