Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's not really that complicated....

Suddenly having an unexpected new "training project" has resulted in my recently watching some training videos and giving a lot of thought to planning the details of my project. Thanks to the internet there is a vast amount of very useful information - not a lot is new to me at this point but some of the information serves as reminders or hints on how to tweak my own training. Note that I usually only access information from people that have a training philosophy relatively similar to mine. Open mindedness is good in some things but I am comfortable in the choices I have made regarding how I will or will not train. There is a HUGE amount of training information out there. Given human nature it is easy to make things very very complicated; sometimes to astonishing levels.

I teach dog training to a lot of great people for a living - not pet dog people but police and military dog trainers, search and rescue dog trainers, professional dog trainers etc. People at the top of their game and who usually really want to be in our classes and are passionate about learning to train better detection dogs. That in itself makes my job fun. The other bonus is seeing dogs learn in a clear manner, we don't complicate things but just allow the dog to channel his drive and teach himself how to satisfy that drive. And they continue to impress and amaze us in their ability to do just that - if we dont confuse them by making things complicated. Yes detection work is important. If it fails things blow up, people die, large amounts of drugs get missed etc. However the teaching is very simple - I merely explain through a series of steps that if he gets to the source of the odor then I will give him something that he badly wants. We need to take steps to ensure that the dog does not use other clues besides scent to be successful but otherwise all we need is a dog with the correct drives. We then get out of the way and let him work.

Below Steel demonstrates this concept. Notice in particular his response to the tennis ball when I start working him. He sees it and immediately starts searching. He knows the fastest and most efficient way to get the fight that the tennis ball symbolizes. He also incidently demonstrates that I am about as relevant in narcotics detection as I am in tracking....

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