Teaching Refind or Return to Handler
Teaching your family dog to “refind” or return to handler after they find a person or object is another way your dog can indicate or alert you of the find.
Area search dogs and air scenting dogs who work off leash to cover large areas of land like in an avalanche are usually taught upon finding a person or evidence to return to their handler and bring the handler back to the person or location.
Dogs who work on a leash have the handler with them; therefore there is no need to go back to the handler. I teach my Bloodhounds to take me back to my truck or home on command because I seldom know where I am once we trail a person several miles in the woods.
|Back to the truck !|
I teach my dogs by simply telling them “let’s go home” or “back to the truck” each time we start back after we are finished with the training session or real search. Then if I am ever lost, I know, I can ask my dog to take me home or to the truck.
Family Disaster Dogs on and off a leash can use this skill to bring people and items back to you if you are unable to move or wish to stay with another person. If you are sheltering in place then you can send your dog out to get an item and bring the item back to you.
Let it be known that some breeds of dogs will not “backtrack” or return the way they came. Bloodhounds and other hounds especially do not like to go backwards on the same scent trail. Some breeds and bloodlines are bred not to backtrack and when a dog is trailing and tracking we do not want them to backtrack because this defeats the purpose.
Another reason backtracking is not encouraged or bred for is that if a dog encounters a place where the quarry or person walked in circles the dog will get lost in the scent overlapping on its own trail.
A good hound will hit a place where a person or animal walked in circles and go right in one side of the circle then out the side the person exited while another dog will smell and smell, going in circles themselves trying to figure this puzzle out. Give time they might figure it out or sit there and look at you to figure it out.
With backtracking in mind, if your family dog refuses to go backwards on a course to return to you or the person then you may have a very smart dog on your hands that you have to out smart by taking a different route back. Just move a little bit to one side of the original trail the dog traveled on, maybe 30-50ft so your dog gets a chance to use a different path to reach you.
We do not want to teach them to backtrack either so moving off of the course is a good idea and changing the locations will help too.
Refind and return to handler can be taught at the same time as all the lessons here at Family Disaster Dogs. This skill is incorporated into your other lessons as you practice with your dog you will add the instructions below into the end of the lessons.
Always praise your dog for a job well done.
To teach your dog to return to you after finding a person you will send your dog to search or find them as detailed in the other lessons.
When your dog arrives at the person the dog is rewarded by that person then told by the person to “go back” or use your own name, like “Go to Joe”.
You stay a distance away when your dog finds the person and you call your dog back to you after the other person praises your dog.
You praise your dog when they come back to you then ask your dog to find the person again, sending the dog back to “refind” the person. When the dog refinds the person the second time, if you are not there by then, the person should send your dog back to you again until you reach them as a team.
Repeating this will help your dog learn they are bringing you to what they have found a person. And, they are not only running between two people. Dog’s like to have a purpose for what they are doing otherwise it is play.
You should adjust the distance between you and your dog according to your own dog’s way of working. Some dogs run along at a fast pace while others work slowly. Some find the person long before you get there no matter how hard you try to keep up while others might seem to take their time smelling every bush. Each dog is different.
The trick is to give your dog space to find the person and return to you. So don’t follow to close at first then later add more distance to the space your dog has to cover to return to you. As you give the dog more distance to cover they will learn to find you as you get out of sight and to bring you back to the person as both of you come back together.
In time and with practice your dog can be sent out to search over a large area of land to scout and pin point locations for you then come back and take you to those locations.
Adding refind or return to handler to area searching and evidence or building searches saves you valuable time because your dog alone can cover much more ground that we can.
When your dog is searching every item they find that holds the scent of the person they are looking for will be found too. This is evidence of where the person has been.
When your dog takes you to objects you must always believe the item belonged to the person you seek because your dog is showing you a clue. Trust your dog.
In the next lesson we’ll be discussing sending your dog to retrieve first aid kits, food and other emergency supplies by name that you might need if you are trapped or unable to leave people who are injured.
After 30 years working with dogs, I really do believe any dog, any age, any breed can learn to do some of the lessons here to help their families and loved ones be safe and survive in an emergency situation.
The smallest or oldest dog can learn to bark or nudge you in an emergency to alert you to danger, every dog is able to help in some way just as they would as a group or pack. Never underestimate your dog.
Please pass these lessons on so others may benefit.
There will never be a charge for the lessons posted, feel free to print them off for later use.