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Taking my girl, for our first visit to sar training tomorrow. What to expect?
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Old 05-19-2017, 03:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Taking my girl, for our first visit to sar training tomorrow. What to expect?

I have a 6mnth female working line GSD. And for a few reasons, i think i would like to change direction from IPO sport, to working SAR with her.
I have contacted my nearest SAR dog/handler team, and I am meeting them at 10am. To check out, what its all about. Very excited, but also scared we wont cut it.

I think my girl lacks the 'friendly dog' part. And maybe im not fit enough? How will they assess her/us?
what are wanting/not wanting?

And any tips please
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Taking my girl, for our first visit to sar training tomorrow. What to expect?

Don't limit yourself & dog with fear-based thoughts. It is a good thing to have a dog-neutral, and people-trusting dog for SAR, as well as stamina and endurance for both dog & you. Very important is dog wanting to use its nose (natural behavior).
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Old 05-19-2017, 05:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Taking my girl, for our first visit to sar training tomorrow. What to expect?

well, im about to leave and take the plunge.
she'll either be shunned for her aggro, or not.
today will tell.
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Old 05-19-2017, 11:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Taking my girl, for our first visit to sar training tomorrow. What to expect?

The biggest "fail" on dogs I've seen tested for SAR is a lack of search drive for lack of a better description.

We use to let the dog/puppy watch us toss a fav toy in a field with knee high grass.

We then turned the dog around a couple of times and sent it to find it's toy.

I never looked at it so much as finding the toy but how long it would keep up the search if they didn't find it.

To many people think their dogs can be great search dogs because it can find it's toy in their back yard or house.

It's the drive that "keeps" them looking when they don't make a find.
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I hope your time with the SAR group was fun and challenging... Honestly, I wouldn't worry about the dog so much... Usually, people drop out of SAR because of the time committment from them, the cost, the physical (and emotional) demands, and the enormous amount of personal training that is needed BEFORE the dog really comes into play... Not to say you couldn't be training your dog at the same time.. BUT, people drop out usually because they cannot cut it.

As to the dog.. I've seen dogs that had abundance of energy and 'looked' like they would be good not be good for SAR, and vice versa, a dog that looked less then 'over the top' have great hunt/retrieve/play drives and be awesome SAR dogs.. Your dog is young, and still maturing AND, IF, YOU are dedicated and plan on sticking with it, most SAR teams will bend over backward to help you with your dog and any issues they may have..

Looking forward to hearing back from you on how it went
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Old 05-20-2017, 08:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Taking my girl, for our first visit to sar training tomorrow. What to expect?

Sorry, I missed this until now. Six months is still very young for a dog. I don't know what kind of aggression your pup has but if it's been honed by IPO training, you may be able to defuse/deprogram her with more training.

There's a variety of reasons for folks not making it. The TIME element is the biggest one. Followed by dog issues then cost. I tell folks I used to have a life,...... then I got dogs.

Let us know how it turns out.
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Old 05-22-2017, 04:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Taking my girl, for our first visit to sar training tomorrow. What to expect?

I had a blast of a day! And its not for me. The Urban SAR group made me very welcome, and more than willing to answer my questions.
I observed them training. I had been asked to bring my dog along for assessment. So she came too.
The travel is a nightmare. Its through 3 towns, none of which have bypasses. So whilst not being an obscene distance, it is too long a journey at 2.5hrs one way. IMO.
I got to see them training various exercises firstly with a group about to take their tests, after 2yrs of training deployed teams working searches.
They referred to an exercise called ‘pop ups’. Where from a large pile of rubble, some victim pops up and gets the waiting dogs attention, then disappears into a hidey hole with a roof. The dog must then go out, across the rubble heap, locate the victim and indicate by barking.
Something that was fun, a ‘bark box’, trap door on rope, leading to a drain pipe with reward in it (helper with bucket of food, or a toy). Dog had to bark consistently to ‘open the trap door’.
And blind searches. Mock mini town, made up of wooden pallets. Lots of hiding places. Some victim hides, dog had to search the town and find victim and indicate with continuous barking.
So after watching them. I got to give juice a go. Many of the exercises are similar to what she is training with me currently on. So we had a huge head start on the exercises, as IPO has same behaviours by another name.
They asked first, then with my permission, hid me in a hide, covered up, totally dark, small tight space, locked in so dog would not be able to make contact with me. Its been decades since i did pot holes and caving, but piece of cake! I told myself entering the space. As i led the there, a thought struck me that in England, where i caved, there were not red backs and white tail spiders! As i am in Australia, with its own dark hold loving spiders. And i was not happy, but willing to stay put, not panicking. Just decided, i didn’t like ‘hiding’ part.
The dogs training were a very different race of dog. I was surprised that the majority of the novice dogs, were low energy dogs. There were few working lines there. The ones on active deployment, were working line, And very high drive, as i had suspected.
The time you have to give to it. Is less than i put into my current IPO training. So that is not a deterrent.
But a 8hr working day, followed by a 2hr drive, 4 hrs of training, then 2hrs back. Nope. I cant sustain that.
I also felt, and i am sure this is my ignorance showing, that the repertoire, as in the number of different skills that require training to the dog, was less than IPO. I was disappointed that there would be no searching of forests for lost tourists/kids. But it did say urban, Doh!
Being able to do First aid, be a hero, saving lives, holds no lure for me. I am a nurse. So know what
Building collapse victims look like already. Do i want to see some more? After a lot of thought, nah.
But i got to learn how moving the pull to search, to ahead of you, and it comes from victim, who rewards the dog, not the handler. Increases searching duration. And vics nasal spray emptied bottles, filled with powder, visually display wind direction. Great to teach folk who cant tell by wetting their finger.
Well worth a visit!
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Old 05-22-2017, 09:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I am glad you enjoyed yourself Sounds like, though, you were doing more of a disaster FEMA search and rescue, and not 'normal' Search and Rescue which would be wilderness, urban, suburban/HRD for lost people NOT from a disaster (most of the time)... You might keep looking around for teams that are doing this type of SAR and not disaster SAR..

As to training time and the amount to learn...Wellll, yes, that will still be a factor as it is not a trophy or award we seek after, but lost living humans, so the stakes are high. However, if you focused on HRD (human remains detection) you would be able to train at home and surrounding area a bit more easily then training in a live find (trailing or air scent; which of course could become an HR event, but we always hope for the best )... When training with the team, you still would be asked to hide for other dogs, but usually not in rubble, mostly in the woods, possibly a building (not collapsed ), maybe walking back towards the dog (this is a fun exercise to see how the dog reacts to the odor trail) and the like.. If SAR still seems to be tugging at your heart or mind, I would encourage you to look for a team that is doing this type of SAR.. It may be the type you envisioned and a perfect fit
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Old 05-22-2017, 11:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Taking my girl, for our first visit to sar training tomorrow. What to expect?

Interesting update, thanks for sharing it with us. Do you have anything else on the horizon planned.
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Old 05-22-2017, 07:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Taking my girl, for our first visit to sar training tomorrow. What to expect?

Sounds like you had an interesting day. As Misty said, you found a disaster dog team. Still very rewarding work but a lot of time and training involved. I'm not sure the training skills are less than IPO but rather they are different. There is a lot riding on the dogs in a disaster situation, less room for error in many cases.

I know the puffer bottles are kinda funny but if there are a lot of novice dogs, I'm thinking there were a lot of novice handlers there learning how scent moves. It always doesn't do what you think. When you wet your finger, where do you hold it? Shoulder high? Higher? Or at the level of the dog's nose? One of the most interesting demos I ever saw was a thing involving a pole. They took an 8 or 10ft pole, put flagging tape at the top and bottom and every foot in between. It totally made me rethink things when the tape at one level was flowing south, but at another level was moving northwest, and closer to the ground was not moving at all. Puffer bottles help people visualize this movement. The senior people may not rely on it so much as they learn but it's a teaching tool for the newbies.

If you are still interested in SAR take the time and ask around some more. You may find the better fit.
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