Monday, June 4, 2012

Training a Messenger Dog


Training a Messenger Dog
Go Between 2 people

Your family disaster dog can be a huge asset in the event that you are ever trapped or separated from your loved ones. For instance, after a tornado or earthquake when rubble is everywhere and you may be unable to reach a family member or them you because of debris in the way. Your dog can go under or over the wreckage to deliver supplies or messages between you and your family. 

Military and war dogs are trained as messenger dogs and many have honored as a hero after running through explosives, gunfire, and razor wire in order to deliver a message between soldiers. Your family dog can be your hero too by simply following the lessons here at Family Disaster Dogs.

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You can send your dog to locate a loved one and carry a first aid kit, food or water. Be sure to include a pen and paper in your dog’s go-bag backpack so the other person can write you a message and you can send messages back and fourth.

Also, include a dog tag on your dog’s collar and a luggage tag on the backpack that says,  ” send dog- say  ”Return” or  the command you will teach your dog in this lesson. Be sure all of your friends and family members know the command to send your dog to you and other people. Write instructions on a note that is in a clear plastic cover and attached to your dogs backpack so people will be able to use your dog to find you if you are ever unconscious and trapped.

You will teach this lesson after your dog has learned to retrieve or fetch in the previous lessons and as you practice the fetch lessons you will incorporate this lesson into your sessions teaching your dog to carry objects on command by asking your dog to keep a hold of the object they retrieved as you walk with your dog tell your dog to “carry”.

This lesson will use 2 people and basically what you do is send your dog back and fourth between yourself and another person by using “Come” (click for lesson) and “Return” or “Go-To” then later after your dog is doing this exercise you will ask your dog to carry an object to the other person and they ask the dog to return to you with a the item or a new item.

Start out with the other person close by, within sight of you and about 30 paces or steps away from you.

Ask them to call your dog and immediately you will command your dog to “Go to name”. If the person is somebody your dog knows, be sure to use the person’s name so your dog will learn to go to them by name.

If the person is not somebody you will be finding in a real event then you do not have to use the name because your dog will learn to find any human being if you send them out to “Go” to a person. They will look for a person until they find one.

You can even teach your dog at this point to go to people dressed or smelling a certain way, such as a person dressed in an army uniform instead of civilian clothes. The dog will learn to only go to those in that uniform and not another uniform if no other uniform or smell is used during training.

Drug dogs can be taught to go to a person smelling like the drug, explosive dogs can learn to indicate a person who smells like they have been in the same room as the explosive materials used in bombs.  A dog can be taught to go to find food, water or shelter if these items are gradually added into this lesson one at a time by command.

After you send your dog to the other person and when your dog reaches the other person, the person will praise your dog then send the dog back to you using the “Return” or another command you want. At the same time you will call your dog to “Come” and praise when your dog comes back to you.

Repeat this 4 or 5 times, make it fun and keep it fun. If your dog becomes bored with this game and stops to look at you like “hey, why don’t you two people walk to each instead of me running” then it is up to you to make this game more interesting.

Here is a good site to teach your dog to play ball

 Change locations by having the other person move off to the side from where they were the first time so your dog has to look for them to make the game more challenging. Add toys and move about the yard to change the course, you can throw a ball between each other and release the dog using the commands to add variety to the game.

In no time your dog will be going between you and another person on command. Then you can add a third person as yourself; while you stand on the sideline and have your dog go between 2 other people as you use the commands to work your dog.

If you use the people’s names then your dog will learn to go between those people in a crowd. Eventually, you can teach your dog the name of everybody in the house, club or group and have your dog carry items back and fourth. Just like service dogs that retrieve items for disabled people your dog can get you items too if you teach your dog the name.

Don’t forget to put your dog’s go-bagbackpack on your dog and practice using it to carry items between people. Some dogs are better at carrying items a long distance in their mouths then others and the backpack can carry much more then one dog’s mouth.

Your dog will be very proud to carry items for you and you will be able to see the joy in how they work this lesson. Once they have reached the stage of working this lesson well, you can add this skill to the tracking and trailing lessons.

To do so follow these steps, after your dog finds a person by tracking or trailing, the dog returns to handler then you give the dog the first aid kit and send the dog back to the person. The person takes the first aid kit, praises your dog and commands your dog to go-to you and your dog comes back for you to follow them to the person.

Daisy Fetch

Now that your dog knows people by name and how to go-to, you can do the same lesson in reverse, where you hide and ask a person to tell your dog to find you in case you are ever missing. Your wife or family member can ask the dog to, “ Go-to you by name”, your dog will  find you.

If you are unconscious and unable to speak to your dog, because of this training the dog will try to “alert” you, if that does not work then your dog will return to who sent him to bring them to you. All of the training in all of these lessons fit together to teach your dog a whole mission of tasks that are possible to do in the event of an emergency.

Always have a person use your name when sending your dog back to you or a code name, such as handler, so that one word means YOU. Then your dog will find you only. This is very important lesson for your dog to learn in case you are ever missing.


These lessons teach the dog how to think like a person in order to communicate with us and help us. We are not only teaching the dog to do as we say but to think for us to find our family members or to save our life.

In the next lesson we will go over how to teach your dog to find you in more detail.

All the previous lessons can be found at this lesson page. and on the page tab on the left side of this page.

Please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion below. 

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