Dogs have some serious physical advantages over us humans. They're equipped with an amazing sense of smell that allows them to track stuff down from far away. Most canines have strong legs that enable them to move fast through brush or other terrain. To top it all off, pooches come with a keen ear.
These traits make puppers the ideal helpers in a search and rescue. A dog may be able to quickly find the person in need-- long before a team of professionals.
When someone goes missing, especially in the wilderness, it can be hard for rescue teams to know where to start. A dog is able to easily pick up on scents left in the area in the last day or so. Once the pooch finds the scent, he can follow it through the rough terrain, either bark or run back to his handlers, and potentially save the missing person!
The best breeds to use for search and rescue are smart and eager to learn. Labrador and Golden retrievers, Border Collies and German shepherds can make excellent trackers. If possible, start training the pup as young as twelve weeks. Youngsters catch on quicker, but older mutts can learn to perform this important task as well.
Once you've decided to help your pooch become a hero, you're going to need to prepare. Some key things to have include:
While your young pooch is learning how to rescue, they should also be tuning up their obedience skills. A fully trained search and rescue dog can use location directions from vocal commands alone!
Below are some of the best methods for teaching a doggo how to be a hero. Keep in mind that the order you teach certain skills will impact how the dog uses them. Trailing and tracking skills should be taught before air scent training.
Hi! My name is Andrea, I´m from Guatemala and I´m becoming part of a rescue team, with dogs. With a group of fire fighters. I been training dogs for 3 years, Im new in this. So I´m writing to you so you can help our team to dog serach and rescue training. My email is: [email protected] Thank you!
Hello Andrea, What is your specific question? I can answer here but I do not contact through email here. Thank you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I would like to teach my dog to find any scent that I give them. For example, I show my dog some hair from my other dog and she goes and finds her. Or I present the smell of alcohol and she goes and finds it. Or I present the smell of another person and she goes and finds them. How do I go about this?
Hello Haelie, First, research how to teach a "Go Find" command. Once your dog understands go find in relation to certain people and certain things that you have practiced teaching her to go find by name, then have her sniff something related to that person or thing that she already knows how to find. Since she recognizes who she is supposed to be looking for, the scent should already be familiar to her. Work on this with just a couple of people or objects at first until she is really good at it. When she is really good at finding those couple of things by name after smelling them, then remove the name of whatever she is supposed to be finding, so that instead of "Go Find Jimmy" it's just "Go Find" and you give her the article of clothing to smell. At first she may need to be told what she is looking for if she gets stumped at times, tell her to "Go Find Jimmy" again if she can't seem to locate based on scent. Practice this until she can find Jimmy with just his scent and the "Go Find Command". Add in new scents, teaching each one the same way that you taught the first couple. She should be learning to "Go Find Jimmy", "Go Find my white shoes", "Go Find Freddy", "Go find cat", ect...until she knows many different things. Once she knows how to find them by name with the scent article, then stop saying the name and work on her simply sniffing the article and then finding it when told "Go Find". You will have to teach her to find dozens of different things by their specific names and scents, one at a time before she will probably learn to match a new scent to an unknown object. She will also probably need to smell the article several times while searching to help her remember what she is looking for. Some dogs have a great nose for this, some have to learn only individual items. German Shepherds do often have good noses so your dog may be able to do it. If nothing else he can learn to find many individual items for you. While teaching this make sure that the scent article matches the actual thing he is supposed to be looking for. For example, if he smells the laces of your white Nikki tennis shoes, only expect him to find that particular shoe and not simply any shoes - since he is looking for a certain scent not just shoes in general with this type of training. You can also look into how tracking dogs are trained to sniff out missing person's since the training concepts are similar - they are given an article of clothing, then follow a trail of scent to the unknown person. Your dog will need more encouragement to keep hunting however, because objects will not have a trail of scent. You will have to encourage him to search for the object room by room and encourage efforts slightly, and findings with higher rewards. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello, I am wanting to get Biza into some search and rescue training but am unsure on how to start. Do your methods work with puppies? I know that it will take more time a patience as he is younger but I think we would do extremely well. Is there any equipment I should get to encourage him more?
Hello Stella, Starting training while a dog is still very young is actually ideal. It will take a lot of patience but your main goals are to teach your puppy the concept of something existing when it's out of sight (like you being in the room even if he can't see you), how to use his nose to find something, basic commands, and socialization around the things he will need to encounter later (people, dogs, outdoor objects like logs, critters, and different environments. The Right Track method and the Air Detection methods would be good to practice, the second method may be too hard right now. When you do the Air Detection method, start by simply playing an easy game of hide n seek - where you pup sees you go hide at first. Once he has learned the concept of the game, make it gradually harder - hiding when he isn't looking but sticking out, ect... Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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One day I was walking my dog. I fell and got a concussion. My dog, Henry howled and barked until 2 hunters came and found Henry and I. I will never be more grateful!