How a Dog Follows its Nose
Understanding Tracking Dogs
This is why there are different types of search and rescue dogs. Air Scenting Dogs do an Area Search to seek out any human scent in an area while a Tracking or Trailing Dog follows the exact path of only the one person they are told to find.
The family dog already knows the members of the household and friends by name who visit while the professional search dog is usually only called out to find strangers.
This difference is an advantage in training our pets for this job because the person's name can often be used to tell the dog who you wish to find instead of having to gather a scent article as outlined below.
You can teach your dog to know everybody's name by using the person's name when you talk to your dog and by reading many of the lessons here at Family Disaster Dogs.
To be on the safe side, it is always a good idea to Prepare to Train and Prepare to Use your Family Disaster Dog ahead of time by gathering "scent articles" in order for your dog to know exactly who to look for in case the odors from a disaster are overwhelming and confusing.
The gathering of a scent article is usually preformed at the search incident by a search dog handler who speaks to friends and family of the missing person before starting an actual search. Sometimes this is done by incident command and the information is passed onto the search dog handler.
For family use, we will skip the middle man because you, the family, will have this information and the scent article ready ahead of time.
Keep in mind, a scent article is a life saver and if you ever have to call on a professional search dog team for a lost family member, critical time will be saved if you are ready when help arrives.
with your own dog and any other search dog who comes on-call to help you.
One of the easiest ways to find a lost person is to give a dog the person's scent and watch him find the scent.
The dog is only looking for the smell and not for the actual person. They do not necessarily associate the scent with the person unless the person is somebody they know very well with that scent.
When you are using a "scent article" your dog will be "tracking" or "trailing" the exact person.
One piece of information that is often misunderstood about a dog hunting with its nose is how the dog is using the nose, the dog has different ways it can use its nose.
These different ways are called, Tracking, Trailing and Air Scenting.
"Tracking" or "Trailing" are different forms of following the exact scent of one person.
The two ways are different because;
When a dog "Tracks" he follows the exact footprints of a person but when a dog "Trails" a person, they follow the scent cloud left behind by the person's footprint trail.
This scent cloud can drift away from the exact location of the footprint, therefore a "trailing" dog may be working a few feet away from the person's actual footprint spot in the dirt.
A dog that is, "Tracking", will work the exact footprints and often lose the "trail" if the person does certain things that confuse the dog and handler's ability to read the dog but the dog is smart and if allowed by its handler, the dog will switch to "Trailing" the person's scent via the scent cloud above ground when this happens.
Some trainers and most Tracking Show Dog courses do not allow the dog to switch methods. They want the dog to use one method or the other. When search dogs are certified to work they and their handler have to a pass test in whichever methods they specialize in.
We are going to disregard the show dog rules and save the advanced dog rules for the advanced lessons.
On this blog we are working with pets and we want to give our dogs the advantage of using whichever method that works for them to locate the person we ask them to find.
Bloodhounds like Bo pictured below, work by using any of these 3 methods that work at the time depending on the situation. The trailing Bloodhound may have its nose on the ground then 6 inches above the ground or a foot high in the air !! ...And they always find their man!
The other way search dogs find people is by air scenting the area for any person's scent, the dog works on eliminating all human scent in that area. Air scenting dogs work an area for any scent they are given or trained to find. Some are trained to find people, alive or dead and others are trained to find evidence or items.
Cadaver dogs are trained to find the scent of a dead body, and a dog trained for water rescue would have to learn how that same scent changes in a watery condition.
Air Scenting will be covered in separate and advanced lessons.
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Next you should Read How to Gather a Scent Article in the article called Gathering Scent Articles 4 Your Dog 2 Find You !
|My "Wrinkledpups Daisy Mayham" AKC Bloodhound|
Here is a great article about the science of smell from the Iowa State Univ.
Although the research and article is about a person's olfactory response, the knowledge can help you to have a better understanding of your dog's abilities which
An odorant is a substance capable of eliciting an olfactory response whereas odor is the sensation
resulting from stimulation of the olfactory organs.
Thank you Iowa State Univ. for providing this helpful article.