I am a Deputy Sheriff assigned to my departments Bomb Squad and in was recently assigned a Explosive Detection Dog. 5 Weeks ago I recieved a 11 month old GSP named "Nitro". He came from Croatia and had no training (blank slate). This is my departments first GSP. We normally use Labs. So needless to say he is a trial dog. We started Explosive detection Training 4 weeks ago.
It was a rocky start at first due to the fact he had no formal trainng in obediance. Because of this I was allready behind. Not only did I have to teach him basic obedience, I have to teach him detection.
His obedience is getting better. He will do the basics (Sit, Stay and Heel). The first week his detection skills were horrible. I couldnt get him to search for the life of me. The second week was like a switch got flipped and he became a searching machine. He would locate the explosive and sit immediately. The third week was even better. I would give him his search command and he would locate the explosive without any help from me. However, this week he did a complete 180. He will hardly search he mainly barks and searches occasionally. He wont alert unless his nose is directly on the explosive. He also gets side tracked very easily.
Here is where I need your help. Since the Instructors in the class mainly deal with Labs they have no advice for GSP's. There is only 3 weeks left of class and I dont want him to fail.
Nothing has changed in his daily routine outside of traning. What could be wrong?
Thanks for the replys. The routine is repeated each day. However, each day is in a new location. One day might be vehicle searches and the next day will be building searches. Last week I took him to NASCAR and we trained in the pits while mechanics were working to help with working with destraction.
The base of the search is the same each time meaning, I have him sit then i give him the command to "Find It". When he locates the explosive he immediately sits and looks at me. He is then rewarded with a toy. I have tried treats but he wont take them. The toy works best. we play for a few seconds then I tell him to "Out", meaning drop the toy. This is repeated 2-6x depending how may finds are hidden.
Over the last two days he has been easily destracted and he wont search for long on his own. I have to "detail" the search meaning i have to hold him on a short leash and continue to point to areas to search.
Before he woud locate odor and follow it to the source and pin point it. I would call it the "rattlesnake", because i could tell he was on odor because of his tail. Now he has no motivation and I cant tell if he is on odor or not.
His endurance is also very poor. After two finds he is allready panting and acting tired. He use to be a machine and go for 6 finds easily.
There can be several things going on -
(no particular order)
1) what's in it for him? Is the bond betwen you strong enough and the love for that toy strong enough? It can be difficult to find a strong motivator for a GSP-
they live for game(feather fur)
you may want to use a swatch from a rabbit pelt as a motivator
2) is obedience training overwhelming and no longer fun?
3) is the pressure of training for this overwhelming - GSPs are kinda known for shutting down/avoidance under unbalanced pressure - panting,acting tired and that's my take on it - acting - he's showing avoidance
Does he recieve corrections,are they too harsh for this particular dog?
4) essentialy, he has lost drive
5) a GSP should not get bored in the search/drive area - maybe he doesn't have what it takes mentally?
5) is he being stimulated in other areas?
so, my take on it is the dog wants to do this but something in the training is causing avoidance issues - again, could be he mentally can not deal with the pressure - GSPs can take a while to mature
May I ask how you came about a GSP from Croatia?
There are many fine dogs here in the states.
The reason I ask is b/c Croatia is an FCI member.
Does the pedigree show testing in the German system -DKV or other system that shows the lineage has been tested in hunting and possibly blood tracking?
The reason I ask b/c we can learn a lot about a dog thru knowing if the parents and grandparents have matured early,
passing tests would be one such indicator.
Good luck to you and Nitro and your exam
I am getting a GSP in a few weeks and am interested in this thread simply because aside from hunting I am hopin to train my dog to hunt antler sheds, it seems like the explosive training and shed antler training would be very similar.. I'm a first timer so I was curious how to train a dog for something like this... Please be as detailed as text will allow...😊