Mending the Search Dog’s Pudding Brain

Read previous posts to find out all the fun problems we have been having with our pup.

Grom has decided that finding a person several times before coming and telling me is a fun new game.

Once, he indicated then decided to sniff some deer bones instead of playing.  Sounds like the little guy either lost his mind or decided he was going to change the rules of the game.

First, we set up a “puppy problem” to help diagnose the issue and increase his confidence.

After the fun little puppy problem, it was time to run a real search problem.  Aaron hid under a machine out in a farm field for Grom to find.  Here is the end of that search.

It looks like Grom has his confidence back.

He went right up to Aaron and did the rest of his job perfectly. We were not convinced that his problems were completely solved, however.  Seeing something once is never proof.  Field problems are easy for Grom.  Would he fall apart if things were a bit tougher?

We consulted a few veteran trainers on our team for advice.

Here are a few tips we learned.

  1. Keep in good radio contact with your subject.  Have them call you when the dog finds them.
  2. If your dog finds someone and comes back to you and does not indicate, hook the dog up and put him back in the car.  Game over.  Show no emotion and do not get upset.
  3. Let the dog sit in the crate for a little while and try the same search problem later during training.  This works extra well if he can see other dogs working and playing from his crate.
  4. On his second try, cue the dog at every step.  Call him back as soon as he finds the person. Then, act really happy as he is running back to you. Next, give him the “tell me” command. Finally, give the “show me” command and excitedly run after your dog back to the subject.
  5. Have the subject encourage the dog as he is running to him and give the pup a great play session.
  6. End on this for the day.
  7. Your dog will have learned that not indicating means the fun is over.  Then he is reminded of all the things you want him to do on the next search problem and gets a big reward.
  8. For the next few training days, start with a very easy short problem and cue the dog on every step before doing any other search problems.

Ok, that is one good tool in our tool box.

Next we found out something we may have been doing wrong!

If you watch some of the videos from our previous you may have noticed a trend.

Did you catch it?

Grom will bark! bark! pause, bark?  Then he will bark with less enthusiasm.  What he may be doing is going from “drive” to “obedience.”  We have been asking him for a ton of barks on every single search.  While it is ok for us to ask for a ton of barks sometimes; it simply is not going to keep up his excitement if we ask him for a ton of barks ALL of the time.

The indication part of the game just is not paying out. Now we ask for only one to three barks most of the time and up it to six or more barks only occasionally.

A combination of “Game Over” and fewer barks has led to success!

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