Good “Victims” = Well Trained Dogs
Without training victims, our dogs can’t be trained. An excellent training victim makes a huge difference in how quickly the dog learns. This is especially important in the early training stages of the dog. The dogs also need to train on a variety of different victims or they get patterned to only find certain people. Here is what makes an excellent training victim:
Enthusiasm--Get excited! Scream, shout, act like a wild man; tug the toy like you really mean it; tell the dog how fantastic they did. A half hearted tug, and monotone, “good doggie” just doesn‘t do it for the dog.
Timing--This is crucial in cuing the dog as to what gets him the reward (toy). He needs to be rewarded immediately after a bark, & from the place he is barking at, if at all possible. A poorly timed reward may make the dog think he just got rewarded for leaving the victim to pee on a rock.
Willingness to crawl into confined, dark, dirty places & be sealed in, then wait quietly until the dog alerts. Claustrophobics will have a real problem with this.
Proper PPE (personal protective equipment)--helmet (usually provided by the team), gloves (sometimes provided by the team), boots (you don‘t want to wear the ones our team members have worn), long pants, long sleeved shirt. We not only train in potentially hazardous areas, but sometimes the dogs get too personal in their excitement. We hate to damage our victims.
Willingness to follow directions, and ask questions if you don’t understand. There are no stupid questions, though we may laugh at, I mean with you, later on. But if you don’t follow directions, we won’t be laughing.
Our goal is to provide excellent search dogs. We are well on our way to meeting that goal when we have excellent training victims to train with.