If you had a television when you were young you probably saw stories of our dogs’ unique bond with their human owners. Lassie would inevitably save Timmy from falling down a well. Hooch took a bullet for Turner. Beethoven found his beloved “boy” in the midst of terrible weather.
If these heartwarming stories of doggy rescue had you yearning for your very own trustworthy companion, you aren’t alone. A dog’s natural instinct to care for and protect their owners make them great candidates for rescue training. In addition, their enhanced senses of scent and hearing and ability to get into and out of tight spaces make them ideal helpers in times of emergency. Training your own pooch in some basic rescue behaviors is easier than you may think. In fact, you can do most of the foundation work at home with little to no special tools required.
Training your dog to rescue will be more than a single command. Rescue dogs have typically learned a variety of useful skills and behaviors that are “chained” together while they perform their rescue duties. ‘Sit’, ‘stay’, ‘look’, ‘down’ and the ability to calmly enter and exit a car or kennel will all be foundational requirements for training your dog to rescue. Rescue dogs can help in cases of emergency and make great companions for those who often find themselves out in the great outdoors with only their trusty pooch at their sides.
Training your dog to rescue will start with great socialization as a puppy. Dogs that will be rescuing people may be exposed to multiple types of terrain, obstacles, noises, scents and other dogs. It will be important to expose your dog to as many different experiences as possible. Basic puppy courses, agility training and plenty of exercise will help build up both your dog’s mind and body in preparation for their rescue career.
While various types of behaviors go into becoming a rescue dog, below are a few fundamental training methods for teaching rescue specific commands.