Understanding Search And Rescue Dog Training

Understanding Search And Rescue Dog Training

Search and Rescue Service is a set of command and control bodies, forces and means designed to solve problems in the prevention and elimination of emergencies.
A search and rescue dog is not just a profession, it is a noble deed, to which an animal and its owner must devote a lot of time and effort. At the same time, the four-legged heroes simply do their job, not even suspecting that if it were not for them, there would be much more broken destinies, destroyed families and interrupted lives in the world.
The most suitable breeds are the German Shepherd, Retriever, Border Collie, Belgian Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Doberman, Newfoundland, Russian Spaniel, Terriers. It is also necessary to take into account the fact that a service dog has to work with people of different ages, sometimes very frightened (in a state of stress), so the dog must be non-aggressive. The territories on which the search for victims is conducted can be very diverse and occupy significant areas, which requires a good orienting reaction from the dog. The dog should not be cowardly and should calmly endure frequent travels on any type of transport. Cowardice, lack of activity, insufficient hearing and smell, nervousness, fear of gunshots, loud noises and smoke make the dog unsuitable for search and rescue service.

Required qualities of search and rescue dog training

Performing such complex and exhausting work is possible only if the dog has excellent natural data, which are developed and improved by special professional training of dogs. To work in the PSS, a dog must have excellent hearing, sharp instinct, endurance and remarkable strength.

It is desirable that it be no higher than 45-50 cm, which will facilitate its transportation and movement in hard-to-reach places. A dog for an MSS must have a strong and balanced character, train well and trust people. Even strangers and animals should not be aggressive to her. Sluggish or, on the contrary, overly excitable animals, are of little use for rescue work.

Despite the fact that search and rescue dog training is a rather difficult job, it does not require the selection of dogs of special breeds with special pedigrees. Experience shows that huskies, German shepherds, collies, St. Bernards, as well as mestizo do well with the service. As for age, not only a puppy is suitable for training, but also a well-developed dog up to two years of age.

Taking into account the specifics of the work, trainers use both more hardy and strong males, as well as attentive and careful bitches. Not age, breed and gender, but competent preparation of animals and proper care for them affect the final result.

Suitable Breeds for Search and Rescue Dog Training 

Of the service breeds, the Collie is undoubtedly the best one. Dogs of this breed perfectly perform all types of searching, never show aggressiveness towards strangers. They have great «intelligence», that is, a pronounced intellectual activity. In the homeland of these dogs, in Scotland, there are 4 varieties of the breed — collie long-haired, smooth-haired, bearded and border. The best for search engines is the border collie. With good visibility, these small dogs work independently, being at a great distance from the handler 

Training the dog to notify the handler about the found person

The purpose of practicing this technique is to develop in the dog the skill of barking at the detected helper before the trainer approaches, without showing aggressiveness towards him. You need to start working out this technique after the dog is accustomed to finding a person who is in an open area.

To practice this technique, 2-3 assistants are masked as in the previous case. The trainer with the command «Seek» and with a gesture sends the dog to search for the disguised person. After detection, the helper rewards the dog with an exclamation «Good» and gives the command «Voice». After the dog barks, the helper encourages the dog to give a treat, only after that the trainer approaches and takes the dog aside.

The technique is considered to be worked out when the dog, at the command of the trainer, actively searches, finds a disguised helper and barks at him independently before the trainer approaches.

Teaching your dog to find a person in a hard-to-reach place

You should start working out this technique only after the dog is accustomed to finding and barking a found person in an open area.

1-2 assistants are disguised in advance on the floors, in the basement of the building. For camouflage, any available material is used, including construction waste. In the basement, it is recommended to leave some of the assistants lying open in places that are difficult for the dog to reach. The trainer with the dog approaches the flight of stairs, the entrance to the premises, unfastens the leash and, having given the command «Look!», Sends the dog in the direction of the search with a gesture, while he himself slowly moves after the dog. When a helper is found, the dog will voice it. The trainer approaches the dog, encourages it. Then the assistant encourages her with a treat. Then the trainer takes the dog aside and sends it to continue the search. 

The technique is considered to be worked out when the dog at the command «Search!» fearlessly enters the building, basement, man-made blockage, actively searches for helpers, finds and marks by barking until the trainer approaches.

Teaching a dog to penetrate a person found in a rubble

To practice the technique, a section of the blockage is selected, in which, among the blocks, plates or other structures, the helper is masked in such a way that the dog can hardly, but can penetrate to it. The trainer, approaching the rubble, unfastens the leash and, having given the command «Look!», Sends the dog to search. The dog independently goes to the blockage, the trainer slowly moves along the path of the dog, carefully observing its behavior. When an assistant is found, the dog marks him by barking and tries to get to him to get a treat from him. When the dog penetrates to the helper, the latter encourages it with a treat.

The technique is considered to be worked out when the dog at the command «Search!» actively looking for a person in the rubble, without being distracted by stimuli, finds, denotes him with his voice and at the command of the trainers.