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KNPV Small Article Search Training

The following article was written by a Dutch friend of mine. Bob Neijts has been involved with the KNPV sport for 15 years. I have intentionally not edited any of the article. While the English may not be correct you will get the flavor of the people who train KNPV from this article. Bob will be writing other KNPV training articles for my web site.
-Ed Frawley

The field where the small articles search, (like a small key, a coin or a bullet shell), is done is about 200m2. There are three articles to be found. The max. Time is 10 minutes to get the full score the dog must finish within 3 minutes. At the signal from the judge you can start the exercise. You are allowed to use your arm together with a verbal command (zoeken). It is allowed to give more than one command to encourage the dog to keep on searching. When the dog drops the article and he has passed more than 50% of the distance between you and the place where he found the article you are allowed to pick it up. When the dog is bringing you the articles he has found you are allowed to give him a reward. (You have to ask the judge for permission before you start the exercise!). To end the exercise you have to lay down your dog and bring the articles to the judge, he will allow you to leave the field. You have to start the exercise off leash and after the exercise again the first 25 meters from the judge the dog has to heel properly! The commands are:

Search - zoeken
Come back - kom terug (when he leaves the search area)
Stay - blijven
Let loose - laat los (to make him give the articles)

This exercise does not have to be that difficult if trained in the right way. Before you start training for this exercise you dog must understand the basic obedience. Important is that the dog is able to heel and come at command. If not you are going to have to much of a struggle to make the dog come to you and when you put to much pressure on him he is going to dislike the exercise and not willing to work for you. The exercise itself consists of several different exercises. Heeling, send away, come, search and retrieve.

In the beginning the exercise is no more than a little game with your dog. Work your dog always on leash (long line) otherwise you will not be able to stimulate, correct or control your dog. You start playing with for example a few wooden pieces, plastic tubes or his favorite toy. In the end the exercise will be done with articles like a bullet shell, a small key or a coin but in the beginning of the training the articles have to be as big as a packet of cigarettes. You have to make sure that your dog does not have a problem to pick it up, so no pieces of metal in the beginning.

You play with the dog and throw the article just a few meters away. Make the dog go after it and bring it to you. While playing you train several different things on the same time. A dog with just a little prey drive will go after the article straight away.

THE FIRST STEP in training is to make the dog retrieve the object s every time you throw it. To stimulate the dog to start searching you throw the article and then you hold on to him for a few seconds. Then you give him the command to search and release him. When the dog is starting to search you praise him and repeat the command "search" several times. Never loud but in a soft but clear voice. As soon as he picks up the object you give him the command to retrieve it. It is not necessary that the dog drop the object in your hands, because you are allowed to pick it up from the ground, but make sure the dog only drops it at your command.

THIS IS THE SECOND STEP. To make the dog retrieve the article and only drops it at your command. The last part you can train whenever you are together with your dog. As soon as he has something in his mouth you praise him and give him the command to hold on. Soon the dog will understand what you mean, whether it is a ball, a stick, your shoes (as long as you are not eating them!) make him hold on to it and only let go on your command. This way you are teaching the dog to retrieve without using a lot of force. As soon as your dog is retrieving the article you throw and only release it at your command it is time to move on and start training with more than one article. To make your dog retrieve the article can sometimes be a problem. Luckily the distance the dog has to cross and the fact that these are very small articles make it a little easier when you have to use force to make your dog to retrieve. Always use the long line!!! Most of the times the dog is willing to pick up the article but drop it again. Here you have to be quick! As soon as the dog picks it up you pull up the leash so he is forced to look up to you. With your free hand you keep his mouth closed. Then you start walking backwards to the point were you set of the dog. Don't walk to slowly! Try to make it as much fun as possible and don't forget to praise him when he is doing right!!! Good Boy! That makes all the difference! Make sure the dog does not have the chance to drop the article. It is better to train this several times a day for just a few minutes then one long training-session. It will be a bad experience for the dog after all. As soon as you notice that the dog is holding onto the article you loosen the grip on his mouth and try to control him only using the leash. As long as you hold the leash tight and force him to look up the article will drop in the back of his mouth when he opens it which will make it more difficult for him to spit it out. Keep training this until your dog 100% understands the meaning before increasing the distance or move on to step three. Another problem is when your dogs start swallowing the articles. Probably you are the main reason of this problem yourself because most of the times you switched to smaller articles to early in training!! When your dog goes this you have to go back one step and use bigger articles. If the dog is able to do the whole exercise correctly but will swallow the articles you can try to put a piece of string on it (fishing line). As soon as the dog swallows it you can punish him for his behavior by pulling it back which will be a very unpleasant experience. Another trick is to give the dog a handful of salt after he swallows an article. He will feel sick and throw up. He will relate the bad feeling to swallowing the article and if it works does not do it again.

STEP THREE. Now you start training with more than one article. You train in the same way but you start using two articles. You throw both articles at the same time. You wait a few seconds and then give your dog the command to search. When your dog starts searching you stimulate him by softly repeating your command. As soon as he is picking up one of the articles you give him the command to retrieve it and you walk backward to encourage the dog to come to you. If possible make the dog sit in front of you and drop the article in your hands, at your command. Don't worry when your dog doesn't want to sit and drops the article in front of you. Most of the times you need too much force to make him obey which will have a bad influence on the training. It is also not required at the PH 1 exam. Now you have to send off your dog to search and retrieve the second article. Give him the command while moving your arm as if you throw another article. When the dog responds praise him and repeat the command with a soft voice. When the dog leaves the se4arch area use first your voice before pulling the long line. Only use the line when necessary otherwise you r dog might not want to work well when he is on leash. As soon as he enters the search-area again repeat the "search" command. When he picks up the second article praise him well and make him retrieve it.

Don't make this exercise too long. Train if possible every day.

After your dog will retriever two articles on command you increase the articles to three and later to four. At this point you place two or three articles in the field before you start the exercise. Then you throw one article and send him off for the other articles without throwing an article at all.

STEP FOUR. Now you have reached the point that you can ask somebody else to place the articles in the field so they will have another scent. Also you will train the exercise as it is done at the exam, so a proper search area and a judge.

You also start the exercise of leash (he is still on the long line but you don't hold it in your hand). You go to the judge and he will tell you what to do and when you can start the exercise. This way you and your dog get used to work with a judge present.

STEP FIVE. When your dog keeps performing well you can start using smaller articles and also add metal articles. The actual training from this point it no more than repeating the exercise with different articles, scent and search areas. Most of the times it is wise to (sometimes) train with four articles instead of three like during the exam. This way you increase the concentration of your dog and he will only stop searching on your command. Some dogs know that the fun is over after they have found the third article and because of that don't want to retrieve it. By extending the exercise you can easily fool them without having to use a lot of force to make the dog come to you.

When you act like that the possibility exists that you get pissed off and as soon as you can reach for the dog you hit him. This is no good thing to do because the next time he will keep enough space to make sure you can't hit him. You will make him scared. Instead use a lot of praise and you can also use food to make him work for you. Give it enough time and make it fun for you and your dog in this way the exercise will be no problem and you can get maximum points!

At the PH 1 exam the dog can loose points on two different parts of the exercise:

A) The way of search when:
1. The dog does not find the articles within 5 minutes
2. The dog does not find any of the articles
3. The dog does things that are not allowed, like frequently walking out of the search area, pees or shits in the search area and so on.
4. The dog is laying down, stand or sits in one place
B) The way of retrieving:
1. The dog breaks one of the articles (biting)
2. The dog drops an article and does not pick it up right away
3. The dog swallows one of the articles
4. The dog does not find the articles in spite of his good searching
5. The handler gives the command "retrieve" (apport) (the handler is also loosing points for "the way of handling")
6. The dog drops the article at about half the distance from where he found it and the handler has to go and get it.

Bob’s Address:
Bob Neijts
Lagoen Hill 36
Netherland Antillies

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