Search and rescue is a very important part of a dog’s training if you are interested in that arena. While it is optimal to have dogs begin training as early as three months old, older dogs can also be trained and certified in tracking, trailing, air scent or cadavers.
We find the entire subject of training a search and rescue dog interesting and thought you would benefit from the information we found. This is a very brief overview and there’s more information available online.
Before getting your dog into training, do some research on the Internet to see want groups are available in your area. This is important because you will want to train with members of that group since your dog’s job will probably be search and rescue in your general neighborhood.
General Dog Training
Because every dog progresses at a different rate, this kind of dog training is done very slowly and gradually.
Training is believed to be a team effort not only between handler and dog but also among a group. Mock exercises are performed as a group activity and members rely on each other for advice and support.
For some groups, there are five phases of training that involves the dog learning to find a particular scent first using treats as a reward and then removing the reward. Training involves a dog being attached to a harness on a 20 to 30 foot lead.
The ultimate goal is to have the handler and the dog be able to consistently track trails that are up to 24 hours old and a couple miles long in every type of terrain.
Again, using a 20 to 30 foot lead, this type of training is very similar to dog tracking trainin. In this instance, a dog can waver from an actual track and use wind to an advantage.
Air Scent Training
There are multiple phases to this training but, generally, the dog is not on lead and there are times when he will be out of sight for several minutes. It’s the handler’s job to listen for the dog to alert that he has found a target. That alert can either be a bark while she stays with the subject or return to the handler indicating that the handler should follow.
Obedience training is paramount as a foundation for a good search and rescue dog. This training is normally done outside the search and rescue training and dogs need to pass and be certified in order to progress to mission-ready search and rescue work.
If you’re interested in having your dog become part of a search and rescue team, do your research and contact a group to get involved.