Jinx resting in the sun getting used to island life

It has been a month since Jinx arrived with the project. Here Greg Morgan Jinx’s handler gives an update on how he is settling into island life.

If you read our previous blog you will know the Biosecurity for LIFE team were excited about the prospect of our first conservation detection dog joining the fold! Two of our RSPB staff members were put through a LANTRA approved Conservation Detection Dog Handlers course run by detection dog training company Kryus, who themselves have spent two years training our new dog from a puppy.

Following some refresher training for us the big day arrived. Our new dog was handed over to us! His name is Jinx and he is a 2 year old red working cocker spaniel. He will live with me on Ramsey and I will continue his training with ongoing support from Kryus.

Mainland trip

Jinx arrives at Ramsey with Greg

He is being trained to detect the presence of rats and will be used to search cargo destined for important seabird islands around the UK as well as on island searches of buildings, stone walls and other habitats where rats may frequent in the event of an incursion.

One of the key training exercises is the ‘focus wall’. This is a series of ventilation bricks which have multiple holes of differing sizes. Small scent items are placed within the wall and the dog searches it thoroughly and then, crucially, gives a clear indication when he locates the target scent and remains focussed on the area until the handler steps in to check the find.

Focus wall training

Jinx undergoing focus wall training

It is early days and the next few months will focus on establishing the bond between us and further training to get us both up to speed for operational searches. As well as detection training this also includes getting him used to environmental factors such as getting on and off boats, walking over different types of jetty (dogs are not fans of metal grating!) and working in multiple new settings.

Getting off on mainland

It is important for Jinx to get comfortable with being on boats in this job!

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