Dogs are kept around for several reasons. Many love them as pets, others for security purpose. Do you also own a dog? Do you need a search and rescue dog? If like the people earlier mentioned, you keep dogs for security purpose, getting the best out of the dog is essential.
Dogs are very intelligent; they can quickly adapt to training and whatever purpose you want to keep them for. The focus of this article is to teach you how to train a dog for search and rescue. Closely following the information will make training easier. To start with, what are Search and Rescue dogs?
What are Search and Rescue dogs?
Search and Rescue dogs (SAR) are special dogs kept for important reasons. Their missions include locating and quickly providing aid to people and animals in crisis, faced with danger, or in distressing conditions. Their usefulness can be required at anytime and anywhere, either around large bodies of water, in rugged terrain, forests, desserts, or in other locations. People and dogs that engage in Search and Rescue are always prepared to respond to emergency calls.
How do Search and Rescue dogs function?
Search and Rescue dogs function in several ways. Here are some of the known functions;
Air-Scenting. They locate humans and track other objects by their smell. They follow ground disturbances. With their well-developed sense of smell, SAR dogs can easily trail specific people and objects with their nose. They can be used in several missions like;
- Assisting with crime scenes especially for law enforcement
- Dealing with weather-related disasters like earthquake, avalanche, building collapse, drowning, etc.
Search And Rescue Dogs Training Requirements
Before proceeding to train your dogs for search and rescue, there are some essential attributes things you should take note of. You may start by playing hide and seek with the dog, and ensure the dog possesses quality endurance, trainability, friendliness, and agility to carry out the training. You also need training clicker, dog treats, leash, and collar for training.
Training Your Dog For Search And Rescue
With the basic information, you are almost set to train your dogs for search and rescue. We will be discussing the right track method; the follow trail method and the air detection method.
The Right Track Method
Step 1: Preparing your dog
The first step is finding the perfect dog that will fit your choice of a SAR dog. You may consult your veterinary on the best option for you. After getting the right dog, then put the dog in the harness after which you can attach the lead.
Step 2: Start the scent path
You can drop a piece of clothing you recently wore, or wipe your feet over several selected patch of the ground to give the dog a path to follow.
Step 3: Leave an unmistakable trail
Leave trails of treats behind before hiding, and a distinct trail will help narrow the search street the dog will have to go through. Trails of treats will also inspire the dog to search the hidden person.
Step 4: Start introducing commands
If the training will become successful, it is best to provide commands for your dogs, especially SAR Dogs. You can introduce simple commands like search, stop, etc. verbal commands will make it easier to train the dogs.
Step 5: Locate
If the dog finds you or the object you hid, then you should offer tons of praise and give the dog some treats.
Step 6: increase the difficulty
As the dog finds the clue or object, the training is not accomplished at this point. You need to then add several twists and turn to the next trial. You may try to reduce the number of treat you give, increase the distance, and reduce the presence of new scents, instead work on scents trails that are more than a day old.
The Follow Trail Method
Step 1: prepare your dog.
The preparation state also includes attaching your dog’s harness and the required lead.
Step 2: choose the right spot
The success of follow trial method depends on the type of location used. It is best done in highly populated areas. This may include parks or streets.
Step 3: Introduce scent to be traced
The best way to introduce scent is by giving the dog a material containing the scent of the object the dog is to find. After introducing the dog to the scent, you may then say your command and let the dog start searching.
Step 4: Sniff and Search
You are expected to allow the dog to sniff around and find the scent trail of the object you hid. The dog may take a short cut if they feel the scent is stronger on such trails; this is very possible and a sign of success.
Step 5: Distract the search
You can find another person to help create distractions that will disrupt the search for a short period.
Step 6: Teach focus
It is good to teach your dog to be focused on when searching. Help the dog understand that all other scents are not useful apart from the one he is searching for. Help them ignore the secondary distraction and focus only on the primary object.
The Air Detection Method
Step 1: Hide Out
You may find an assistant that will help hold the dog while you catch the dog’s attention and then run to hide. To make this more effective, take the dog’s favorite toy with you while hiding. Keep it very simple at the start, and increase the difficulty over time.
Step 2: Introduce the command
This time, the assistant frees the dog to start searching after introducing the commands to search to him. It is best to make use of verbal commands.
Step 3: Locate and Reward
As long as the dog finds the clue, it is best to make a big deal out of it. This will help keep the dog motivated. More importantly, you should reward the dog with treats.
Step 4: Introduce signals
You can instruct the dog to make sounds or speak when they find the object. Again, if the dog gets this right, reward the dog.
Remember that the difficulty should be increased after every trial to help improve the effectiveness of the training.
Search and Rescue dogs are very useful and effective only when they undergo the right type and intensity of training. Endeavor to provide your dog with the proper training, and you can be sure of having an active Search and Rescue dog soon.