What motivates your dog?

Preference testing what it is? I learned about preference testing after a short term battle with finding out what motivated Ruger. The easiest way to determine what your dog will work for, is setting up at least 10 items, different treats and toys and seeing what your dog consistently picks. This then tells you after they have successfully completed a track, what their reward should be. For us it is a big orange and blue ball. When Ruger finds his person he gets it as a reward. We play for a bit and then I “throw” it to tease him out. We learned at NAPWDA that he needs to think it is “gone”, to be extra motivated on his next search. I also learned at NAPWDA to play for a bit, after the search is completed before putting him up again. I learned the hard way that if I put him up right away, he associates finishing his track with being locked up…. Not good.  If you are not familiar NAPWDA is the North American Police Working Dog Association. We are fortunate enough they open up a few of their seminars to civilians.  This is where I learned about preference testing. A great SAR dog has a strong drive! Because Ruger is very ball motivated I found a different ball attached to a tug rope that equally motivates him. This is what we are using for article search. To start we put articles out and treats on them, so when he found them he got a reward. Once he got that game, I added the cue “search” before releasing him. Now that he gets that game, I am having him down, in front of object and then he gets his reward. This is currently a work in progress. Now that it is winter here, I am finding it more difficult to get out and practice due to the weather conditions. Which is a terrible excuse! Tracking in the winter is fine because we are both moving, but I get cold waiting for him to find the articles. Again terrible excuse!

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2 thoughts on “What motivates your dog?

  1. Scout my trainee mountain rescue search dog loves his toy that we train with. it only comes out at training time so its extra special. when he finds a body, they are trained to let him have the ball and play with him for a good period before I clip him back on. I like the bit where you give him a play before putting him away for a rest between finds, I will try that it seems a better way of ending the sequence. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

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