Well the end of May brought us our first water training for the search dogs. A nice calm quite private lake, a boat, multiple handlers and K9’s and a few of my students. The kids loved swimming and driving the boat, the dogs loved swimming and riding on the boat……..i swear there are not many differences between them!
Water trainings are great BUT BOY does it take a lot of pre-planning, set up, and specific execution plans to make happen. The dogs obviously get no water work during winter and colder months, lending to just a short time we can get them on a boat ever year. We have 2 water seminars later this year, one in August in Mawah NJ, and one in September in Binghamton NY with Amigo Search Dogs. Both will be excellent opportunities to get some good training in.
Anywho back to our water training.
First off was Abby- Shes a certified HR water dog meaning that per NYS Federation of Search and Rescue she is certified to search for lost people and human remains on or near water. She is excellent at “driving” the boat with her nose pointed in the correct direction. My focus for water training was to work a blank area with no scent and see how it differed from when she worked scent. BOY WAS IT OBVIOUS!!! She was just out for a cute boat ride!!! She knew her sensitive little nose had nothing and she was calm and quite just hunting around a bit checking to see if she got any scent as we went around the lake. Zach was our boat driver and he was impressed by how different her body language was.
Our next order of bussiness was to get Abby comfortable in the water. Last summer i was able to enlighten her to the benefit of “wading” in the water and how much fun it was to splash around but she didnt have the confidence necessary to dive out swim across the pond and get her toy. This summer the boys know its fun time in the pond for Abby!!!! The goal is to desensitize her to swimming in all environments and build her confidence around the water. In the lake she was already swimming out into deep water to get her ball!!!
Moving on, Ms. Raina is working on her water skills, i’m in turmoil over how much to push water work on her. She loves it and seems to excel at it so i have no reason not to pursue it with her but I’ve held back mostly due to her “crazy drive” She seems calm when in the boat and we practiced that with running her on a nice blank boat ride, then following up with some short HR boat work. I was impressed with her behavior change during the work and will defiantly be continuing it to see what the outcome is.
Lastly we have little miss Eme to report on. This training was a huge step for us as a trailing team as i was able to run her on one of her blind training problems. It was a hot trail, about a mile long and the last .3 miles was double blind with no idea where the trail layer went. The joy and exhilaration that came with the successful completion of the trail and then comparison of how well she had run it (no more then 20 feet off) was insane!
Eme is red the subject light blue. She gave me a good negative immediately but after resting her and re casting she went on a bit more before giving me another negative.
All in all it was a great training, and with a few airscent problems in the mix as well a tiring day for all. So thankful for my team mates and my girls who share this great experience with me.