Another week slips by and we’re already looking towards week 4 for the training of the Vikkas Canine Services Fire Investigation Dogs, who, on completion of training, will be going to the Malaysian Fire Service in Kuala Lumpur.
The focus for week 3 has been to continue to consolidate the dogs’ ‘freeze’ indication, and also to start working the dogs to a search pattern and getting them used to working on a working lead (which I’m reliably told is 93.5 inches long!). The dogs have also been introduced to a new scent.
The dogs have continued to work on the blocks but we have also started putting the scent onto carpet squares. This is the start of building in ‘realism’ for the dogs by introducing the type of material that they will be searching when fully trained as well as weaning them off the blocks which we will be doing slow time over the next two weeks or so. It also gets them used to the drift of scent that occurs and they are encouraged to track the scent to source during each training exercise before they are rewarded. Pateince, patience and more patience is required at this stage of training as the delivery of the reward can be critical for the success of the session as well as helping to consolidate that all important indication. If a dog is rewarded at the wrong time on too many occasions i.e. before the dog ‘freeze’s’, or the reward delayed too long and the dog moves away, then the result will be a poor indication which can be very difficult to improve once the dog has been trained.
Of the 5 trainees, Millie, Geoffrey, and Lucy are looking good (or should I say satisfactory!) for the stage of training, but unfortunately Max and Mansell are not quite up to the standard that we are looking for. Max is only 12 months old and does not show the confidence needed. He needs more time for socialisation, exposure to every day life and time to mature into a young adult dog before advancing his training. He will benefit from his time with the other dogs and will probably go through the training process again, starting from day one.
Mansell is very handler conscious, isn’t quite showing the independence and confidence needed and is quite erratic in performance. He may well improve, but like Max, he may well benefit from going through the training process again.
I will post some more pics early next week, and hopefully a video(!) to show the dogs progress…..