Building Search | Dog Training Vlog

Building Search | Dog Training Vlog

search and rescue dog training

This K9 Search and Rescue training blog and video shows some of Misia's progress in her SAR K9 training as well as providing some information on building searches as a specialty.

Whilst our team specialises in Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) or in other words - disaster search scenarios - we also train in a variety of settings. This is to ensure our dogs are able to generalise their training across a wide variety of SAR scenarios; creating a capable and confident dog, ready for any search thrown at them.

This week's training was building search, one of the most complex and difficult search scenarios for dogs to find in. You go into an enclosed space, search and rescue k9small in comparison to land search or disaster searches - what's so hard about that?
Well, it has a lot to do with how scent behaves. Scent rises and falls - in outdoor scenarios, scent is more predictable - subject to wind, sun and the weather. Creating "scent cones" that dogs can range past and navigate around to determine whether they are getting closer or further. But indoors, scent generally wafts around inside, which can "flood" the room. It may be sucked out through doors, windows, towards windows or walls that are being heated by the sun. Fixtures may blow scent around, or suck it upwards through the roof which creates an added element of difficulty for dogs to pinpoint where the scent is originating from.

You will see this in play with Misia struggling to pinpoint the scent in the video below. Despite it being seemingly obvious where the victim is, the scent is flooding the room and rising making Misia erroneously scramble upwards. With more experience, and confidence building this will improve.

I am over the moon though, as this week Misia overcame a huge training block in dog tug playher alert. Our work on her alert has already come a long way; would you believe I had to TEACH my dog to bark (a German Shorthaired Pointer no less)?!
She only ever barked of her own volition in "danger" scenarios, with the intention of protecting us or drawing my attention to something. I mean she has a sixth sense for this. People walking past, knocking on the door, general loud noises or even other dogs barking don't ever concern her. But if something is "dodgy" she picks up on this - a strange car idling in our driveway for too long, people arguing, men running up the street with flash lights - even when she's fast asleep. She just knows. 

While she well and truly has a solid bark now, the latest issue in our training was getting her to alert from scent alone. She was relying heavily on sighting the "victim" to confirm to herself that she had found. I was so pleased that in this training session we finally moved past that, with Misia alerting on scent alone in the two searches we completed. In the video, you'll see that she alerts even though she doesn't fully know where the victim is. I encourage this but am also trying to foster precision in her work. I keep her engaged in the "game" asking her to "show me" and encouraging her on. She even boops me in the mouth because she is getting SO frustrated, I liken this to her saying "I'm telling you it's here, LISTEN HUMAN, now give me my toy!" - but this in the end makes the reward worth so much more to her.

Now for the video so you can see exactly what I mean:


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