The phrase “Go with God” has been around for eons, and certainly isn’t bad advice. But a dyslexic dog trainer I once knew gave me some good advice for working with K9s. “Go with Dog.”
We as humans have our preconceived notions about what we want our dog to do. When starting out, the people training us are Gods themselves, and we want our dog to do everything the way their dog does it.
The most important thing you can do with your dog is go with its flow, and adapt what it does naturally to what you’re trying to accomplish.
The best example is when rewarding your dog. Many successful handlers recommend toys and play. But some dogs are intimidated by lots of loud squeaky voices and a loud squeaky toy. If your dog will reliably work for food, or for quiet praise, then go with that.
Likewise for the dog’s trained indication. Many folks try to force the dog to sit, or down, or tug a toy. It’s OK to try a few things in the beginning, but if the dog likes something else, go with it. So long as you and an evaluator can recognize the behavior and it happens only when the dog has made a find, then it’s a perfectly acceptable trained indication.
SAR needs to be fun for the dog. If you take the fun out by trying to make the dog do something it doesn’t enjoy, you’ll end up with a less enthusiastic search dog and you’ll be a less effective search team
Go with God? Well, maybe. But for sure: Go with Dog.
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