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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently I came across an ad for a dog that just rubbed me the wrong way. Two things about it had my feathers ruffled:

1. People who label a dog as "good for SAR" when they've never trained a dog for SAR and know nothing about what characteristics a dog needs to possess for SAR work.

2. People who think that a low to medium drive dog can do SAR work. Is this the type of dog they want going out to find their loved one? A dog that might just give up or lose drive and focus or get distracted in the middle of a search? SAR dogs need to be HIGH DRIVE and PERSISTENT to work independently and for long periods of time.

Every time I think SAR has moved beyond the two points listed above, I read another description of a dog for sale or for free that includes "good for SAR" following a description of (IMO) a pet temperament dog. Those dogs are then typically sold or given to unsuspecting SAR newbies. Then I have to do the dirty work of telling the newbie that their dog isn't suitable for the work. Ugggghhh!!!!

Sorry, just had to vent.
 

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DITTO, DITTO, DITTO!!!
Nothing worse then someone getting a dog THEN deciding they want it to do SAR with their "pet".
THEN, clueless people running SAR teams.
You've hit on some of the many reasons I left SAR.
 

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I have seen the same thing - again and again.

Even been told by a sport person that a dog would NOT be good for SAR because it had too much drive. Another thing people do not *get* is that a dog with weak nerves will not cut it either. Some also try to start with a dog that has so much obedience it is too handler dependant and can no longer work independantly.

I think that some people can join with an unsuitable dog and you let them know up front that if the dog does not work out the team will not support the dogs' training, but will help them find a more suitable dog and would love to have them stay in a support role. I think it best when people realize on their own it is not working out and makes them appreciate the attributes of the right dog better by seeing the difference in how they work.

I think a number of us started with the wrong dog and wound up with a more suitable one. The red flags go up for me when someone says "I am joining because my dog needs a job" and "If my dog can't do this I don't intend to stay" Those are part of the reasons we don't even let a prospective member bring a dog to training the first three months they are interested in the team. They need the passion to do SAR and the dog is only a tool.

I do think one kind of reject is pretty good. A dog that has all the attributes to be a patrol dog - BUT - does not have strong fighting drives - i.e., could do sport in prey but is not a truly civil dog.) - Not talking about a dog with poor nerves, just a dog that really does not want to fight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
QUOTE NANCY: "Even been told by a sport person that a dog would NOT be good for SAR because it had too much drive" END QUOTE

How do you even respond to a person like that???! Do you walk away knowing its hopeless or do you try to educate them? I sure hope that person wasn't in any position of authority (to spread that kind of crap around and have people believe it).

QUOTE NANCY: "I do think one kind of reject is pretty good. A dog that has all the attributes to be a patrol dog - BUT - does not have strong fighting drives - i.e., could do sport in prey but is not a truly civil dog.) - Not talking about a dog with poor nerves, just a dog that really does not want to fight." END QUOTE

I agree! And, if anybody has a good (and affordable!) source for pointy-eared dogs like that (with NO nerve issues!), let me know!
 

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<<<source for pointy-eared dogs like that>>>

Why limit yourself to pointy eared dogs if you intent is truly SAR.

DFrost
 

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David, you are right...................I know................I would absolutely hate to live with a lab but there are tons of 'em out there free for the taking that have just what it takes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We have 2 floppy-eared USAR dogs at our house. I just recently passed the FEMA FSA (former basic test) and will be taking the advanced FEMA test with our younger lab in November. See, I don't discriminate! :D

Some people just relate better to the pointy-eared personalities I guess. I do have great sources for purchase/adoption of the floppy-eared variety, just not the pointy-eared ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
And, just in case anybody is wondering what it takes for a dog to be a good USAR candidate, here's a great screening test. I would also argue that area/wilderness SAR candidate dogs should be screened by this test as well.

The Brownell-Marsolais Scale:
http://www.disasterdog.org/forms/training/dog_sreening.pdf

Lots to read, but worth every minute. Also, anybody who wants to donate a dog for SAR, or wants to advertise their pups as good candidates for SAR, should review this document and really think about whether their dogs can meet these criteria. Not a lot of dogs out there can!
 

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Funny you should mention stupid people, because I had a lady contact me wanting to get rid of a dog and she said "he doesn't really like people, but he likes to sniff alot, maybe he could be a search dog!" :roll:
 

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The sad thing was I saw two such dogs at a SAR seminar this weekend.

It was not that they did not *like* people. They were scared to death of them. sigh......
 
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I admit I am very poor at definitions, but what does one mean by "HIGH DRIVE"? Is it to be construed as part of the dog's character where I believe "persistence" belong, or is HIGH DRIVE a thing developed by heightening a certain response to stimulus, like that using a prop or a ball for that matter?

Just curious...
 

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Definitions can be tricky.

I think that scale Konnie posted is awesome in that is describes objective tests of the attributes you are looking for.

I would say you can develop the drive but there are genetic limits and most of it is innate. Persistence is an important element.
 

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Sarah Hall said:
Funny you should mention stupid people, because I had a lady contact me wanting to get rid of a dog and she said "he doesn't really like people, but he likes to sniff alot, maybe he could be a search dog!" :roll:
I'm hoping she meant a drug dog or something like that, as opposed to a "search dog" that looks for missing people. :roll: :lol:
 
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Nancy Jocoy said:
Definitions can be tricky.

I think that scale Konnie posted is awesome in that is describes objective tests of the attributes you are looking for.

I would say you can develop the drive but there are genetic limits and most of it is innate. Persistence is an important element.

Thanks, Nancy. I'll put it into an example. I've witnessed some dogs very hectic on the search like its their last day on earth. Is this a high-drive dog?
 

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oops I replied to wrong quote. I was referncing the experience I had about a dog scared of its own shadow.

scared of people. Not a good candidate for anything. You can work with it and make it an ok pet but ....... you need a confident dog for this.
 

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Jose: <<Thanks>>

I *think* a high drive dog *can* be hectic, particularly if it is young, but I would not say that is a good thing. Dog needs to learn to pace itself when it is scanning to locate scent.

Now when they actually get into scent, some work the fringes and appear hectic, while others work the concentrated areas of scent and are more direct.

Bob, Konnie? I am no expert - I already got past THAT stage :oops: :lol: :oops:
 

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High drive and hectic don't necessarily have to go together.
A dog with a high hunt drive (SAR necessity) will hunt till he wears himself out. He doesn't have to be hectic.
A dog that has a high drive for a ball will do anything for the ball. A hectic dog may not have the self control to think straight.
Both can be genetic. The drive is often built or developed through proper training but has to be there initially.
In addition to genetics, hectic can often be created by improper training of a high drive dog.
Think of it as doing bite work. Some dogs have a natural calm bite. That can be made hectic by poor training.
A genetically hectic dog MIGHT be able to develope a calm bite with good training but will never be as reliable.
Persistence would be a good word for high drive.
A pup can be persistent in his desire to find a toy but it can be developed or ruined with good or bad training.
Make sense??
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I saw this quote from a friend of mine in a book recently and I thought this would be the appropriate place to put it. It very accurately describes the traits required for a search and rescue dog:

"Search dogs must possess intelligence, agility, perserverance and dedication, but their most important quality is courage."
-Elizabeth Kreitler, VATF-1 (as quoted in Dog Heroes of September 11th by Nona Kilgore Bauer)
 
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