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Selecting A Search And Rescue Dog
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Selecting a Search and Rescue dog

Search and Rescue dogs are amazing animals. They are trained to do a thankless job in difficult conditions for long periods of time. These dogs are trained to a high degree and love their work. What is it that makes these dogs so dedicated? Play time! The training regimen for these dogs is all a big game. Done right, training these dogs makes them some of the happiest dogs on the planet. All this and they are doing a job that can't be done any other way for people that are in dire need. What is it that makes a Search and Rescue dog?

The first thing that we look at when evaluating a dog for Search and Rescue is drive. Is your dog bonkers around the house? Does he want to run more than anything in the world? Do you come home to a house that has been hit by a hurricane on four paws? You might have a candidate for Search and Rescue.

It is unfortunate that many fine animals that meet the criteria for Search and Rescue work find themselves in need of rescue themselves. The dogs that excel at Search and Rescue work can be a handful. If you have decided to bring home a pet and find that your loveable little bundle of fur has turned into a Cujo, many people will suddenly decide they are not dog people and take the animal to the humane society. Fortunately, the dedicated volunteers at many of the shelters understand this behavior and will contact the local Search and Rescue teams when they find a likely prospect. My team's top performer was acquired in just this way. A bonkers Black Labrador found herself relegated to the local shelter and found her way onto our team. She made her first find 24 hours after completing her certification.

A second criteria that is equally important to drive is intelligence. Search and Rescue dogs undergo a rigorous training plan. Obedience is something that is drilled into these dogs from day one. The dogs have a variety of behaviors that need to be learned. Not only should they actively search for the missing person but they need to provide the handler with a solid indication that someone has been found. They need to be able to negotiate a variety of terrain, some difficult to maneuver. Of course, this is all done in an exciting way so that the dog becomes a good worker and loves nothing more than to do the work. The volunteers that own these dogs spend their time dedicated to their dogs and the training of these amazing K9s.

If you are interested in learning how to train a search and rescue dog, locate your nearest team and discuss their policies. Most will entertain new recruits, some will evaluate dogs for adoption. Be aware that Search and Rescue work is not easy, requires dedication and a significant time commitment. Perhaps you too can make a difference with your own Search and Rescue Dog.


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