I am greatly disturbed lately by the state of integrity in many sar dog handlers. Over the past few weeks, I have seen/read things that just make me shake my dumb ol’ head.
There are several great trainers across this great country of ours. Learn from all of them! Do not put all of your eggs into one specific basket. To do this means that you are missing out on a lot of great information from those other trainers, that you have chosen to pass on. They each have their strengths, as well as their weaknesses. This is what will make you a good dog handler, and possibly, if you endeavor to go that far, a good dog trainer.
This is what I do. I take seminars, and read most everything from each one. But what I do not do, and will never do, is to blindly follow anyone. Now by ‘blindly following’ I mean, do not change your lives or plans, just based on a particular trainer. Newsflash folks, that is what is called a ‘cult following.’
I started my career in working dogs way back in 1979, with the US Air Force, and this is still the foundation of my training. Today, I am constantly updating those skills. I read EVERYTHING that I can, from a variety of sources, even if I do not think that it may apply to me or my training with my dog. I take what I like and apply it to our training, tweaking it to fit our ‘style.’
But I refuse to alter our style, just to appease any one specific trainer. My training methods work for me and my current dog, and they will stay. We are not a competition team. We are an operational team. We train the way that we will search. I am always adding in different scenarios or distractors, if you will, to our training.
Another thing that I do not believe in, is the practice of a trainer certifying a dog team. Never, never should that happen!!! A certifier or evaluator should ALWAYS be a neutral third party individual who has not been involved in the training of the dog team. To do otherwise, just gives the appearance of favoritism, and you all know, or should, that ‘appearances’ are given a hefty weight in the sar dog community, as well as the larger working dog community. That practice is liable to come back and bite you in your ass, harder in some cases, than many dogs will!