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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

How to Find the Perfect Family Dog

There are many different qualities we look for when welcoming a puppy into our home. Perhaps we want companionship or loyalty - someone who will always be happy to see us after a long day at work. Or maybe you are looking to teach kids about responsibility through pet ownership. However, there are a growing number of dog owners who are on the lookout for family rescue dogs - who are able to come to your aid should you require assistance or get lost. 


Photo by Marliese Streefland on Unsplash


With that in mind, here are some top tips that you can use to find (and train) the perfect family rescue dog. 


  • If buying your dog from a breeder, ensure that they are a reputable company that you can trust. One with years of experience in the field, which operates with the best interests of their dogs at heart. For example, you might want to get in touch with a member of the team at Smoky Mtn Labradors, who have nearly four decades of experience in breeding happy, healthy dogs. 


  • Alternatively, you could rescue a dog from your local shelter. However, if they are an older dog, training them could be a little more difficult as they will have already set into a pattern of behaviors that can be difficult (though not impossible) to amend. Either way, you should ensure that you set up a straightforward training plan that helps them develop good habits, such as learning how to heel and stop pulling


  • Follow our comprehensive lesson plan to help train your dog to become a family rescue dog. Remember, training requires a great deal of determination and patience from both the dog and the owner, and you have to be willing to put the work in if you want to get the best results. 


  • Focus on rewards-based training where possible, where dogs are rewarded for good behavior or for picking up a new skill. This is due to the fact that when rewarded, dogs find it easier to learn what is expected of them as they receive something positive in response to their efforts. Rewards can vary from verbal praise and cuddles to snacks - whatever gets the most positive response out of your dogs. 



  • In order to achieve success when training your dog, you should also ensure that they are happy and healthy. For example, you should ensure that you choose the right food for them, give them plenty of exercise and make time in their schedule for fun. For example, they cannot train consistently if they are not given time to cut loose or stop enjoying what they are doing. However, there are plenty of ways in which you can make training fun for your dog.  


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Welcome to the Exciting New K9 Search and Rescue Sport in America



K9 Search and Rescue Sport


K9 Search and Rescue is quickly becoming a popular fun sport to do with all breeds of dogs.

We welcome you to learn more about how to get involved and train your dog to compete with other dogs as a fun and challenging sport to find a hidden person via mantrailing, tracking and area search plus more with The American Rettungshunde Sport Association. (click to learn more and join)

The ARSA is dedicated to the search and rescue sport. It is incorporated as a non-stock (not-for-profit) corporation in the State of Virginia and is a member of the American Working Dog Federation.  

About Search and Rescue Sport (IPO-R)

Are you looking for another sport that’s compatible with your current interests? 

IPO-R is an FCI sanctioned sport that has many similarities to IGP (Schutzhund) and is an ideal supplement to not only but also AKC tracking, obedience, and agility. Trials consist of two phases – a search phase and an obedience with a dexterity phase. 

The sport has 3 levels, an introductory level (V) and the more professional levels, A and B. 

At each level, you can trial and earn titles in all the different search options. Furthermore, you can do only search work or only obedience and dexterity at a trial if you prefer. 




Search Phase 

track 

area search 

rubble search

mantrailing 

avalanche search 

water rescue

Obedience and Dexterity  

heeling with changes of pace

closed tunnel

down stay

changes of position at a distance

carry your dog

heeling over a difficult surface

Get more detailed information about these and other exercises in the international rules at ARSA


Trial levels

 Introductory level (V)

Levels A and B.

At each level, you can trial and earn titles in all the different search options – for example A-tracking, A-area search, A-mantrailing, and so on. 

You can do only search work or only obedience and dexterity at a trial if you prefer. 

Look at the ARSA website for a trainer near you or contact them for how to get started.




As a member and trainer with ARSA , I'm available to help train you and your dog via online, phone and email with in-person training workshops starting in the spring of  2022 so feel free to contact me via the contact page here at Family Disaster Dogs

Saturday, November 6, 2021

The Sport of Mantrailing Train a Dog to Find People

Welcome to 

The Sport of Mantrailing

Train a Dog to Find People

Hey everyone, 

How about a fun activity and sport to do with your dog?




Have you thought of learning how to find people with a dog? 

Pictured is my dog being rewarded for finding the boy 


Does your dog need a way to use to burn off extra energy or something to do? 

Would you like to give your dog a job to do? 

The sport of Mantrailing may be a perfect match for you.

Mantrailing ...is a search and rescue skill set that is quickly becoming popular with all dogs as a really fantastic sport to be involved in.

You and your dog learn to work together as a team .. to find a "missing person" who is well hidden from you!

Friends and family will be amazed with how fast your dog can find them.

Mantrailing is a great fun rewarding sport where dogs love showing us how well they can use their nose.

Here's my dog Mantrailing to find a hidden person





I have been writing about mantrailing for many years on this site although I have seldom mentioned the actual term of Man Trailing because I was writing to families and the public about training family dogs to find family in disasters, along with other dog skills. 

The dog training lessons in Family Disaster Dogs book train family dogs to find friends and family using Mantrailing skills and the lesson in My Puppy Can Find Me children's book uses the same principle of training a dog to find people.  

I will be posting upcoming training opportunities, workshops and seminars from different organizations and dog clubs that are welcoming the public to train with them.

Follow Family Disaster Dogs on Facebook or come back often to stay updated on events you may want to attend. 

Sign up for updates to this site using the pop up window.

Contact me at contact@familydisasterdogs.com if you want help to train your dog. I train in person, over the phone or internet

The book features actual working search and rescue dogs from North Scotland Response Rescue International and a multi-talented USA Sport Dog Champion, plus dogs I have trained. A share of sales is donated to help RRI North Scotland aid in the search for missing persons.


Click the book to see a preview



Thursday, November 4, 2021

A Little History of Family Disaster Dogs Training Your Dog to Rescue You

Training Your Dog to Rescue You

 A Little History of Family Disaster Dogs 

10 Year Anniversary


I started this site ten years ago when I began writing the first Family Disaster Dogs book on the night of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami. As I sat under evacuation orders myself on the Oregon coast, I started to write these lessons with my bloodhound Daisy because it dawned on me that in major disasters and sometimes missing person cases, we have to take care of ourselves and loved ones until help arrives which can take days or weeks depending on the situation. 

As I watched the news I realized i wanted to get these valuable dog training lessons out to the public sooner than the time it takes to publish a book so I started this blog which grew into a website as I added more than 220 pages here at Family Disaster Dogs.

I kept the Family Disaster Dogs book, blog and lessons simple so the public would not feel overwhelmed having to know or learn everything Search and Rescue members must learn. Families do not have to learn as much because they are not going out to rescue others, they are learning from me and my books books how to rescue themselves and loved ones with a dog's help. 




As with most things in life, this site has grown to cover more than the Family Disaster Dogs book and lessons ideas I had ten years ago. The children's book teaches children and parents how to use the dog to find mom, dad and the child and the Evacuate with Your Dog's Help book gives everyone a long list of bug-out bag supplies, information on training a dog to help evacuate and what to expect if you have to evacuate. 

In the last ten years we have reached people all over the world and given out many Family Disaster Dog certificates for those who contact us and tell us their journey with us. Dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds are helping their families prepare for the worst.


Over the years, this all led to the newest book, Start Mantrailing, which takes me back to the beginning of my own emergency preparedness training and gives you the opportunity to learn even more about how to train a dog to find a missing person and how to advance into actual Search and Rescue work or the new sport of Mantrailing. 

Yes, now Mantrailing is gaining in popularity as a Sport too. When I started this site ten years ago Mantrailing was seldom heard of outside of K9SAR or Law Enforcement. Dog sport enthusiast  focused on Tracking events not Mantrailing which was exclusively a bloodhound discipline and much different than tracking in many ways. Now all dogs are learning what bloodhounds like my Daisy naturally do.

Mantrailing is becoming more and more common in the public dog world and on social media. With this growth I will be sharing more and more ways to train a dog to find people as well as how to prepare for disasters.

With covid19 hopefully behind us in the near future, next year 2022??? I hope to train more of you and your dogs in this useful natural nose work a dog can do to help us survive as dogs have done for thousands of years. 

Sign up for the newsletters in the pop up window, (refresh this page to have the window pop up again)

Check out the newest book here on my author page and don't forget a book is a perfect gift for the holidays. My books are Free on Kindle so everyone can read them. If you would like a signed copy let me know by emailing me or contact me on Facebook at the Family Disaster Dog page. 

Be sure to like, share and follow me on social media to help find missing persons and prepare for what I hope none of us ever have to endure..a disaster or a missing loved one.

I'm not only an author

Family Disaster Dogs is not only a book and site,, its a passion I share with you the knowledge I have gained.


a few of my dogs

I'm not one to brag, I'm more a teacher who wants readers to rest assured that this site is based on my own actual experience and not a copy of something off the internet lol ...experience I do have... 

I've been dedicated to dogs my whole life, and teaching people how to live happily with their pets since my first job in a large show and boarding kennel as a teenager. I went on to be a professional dog trainer and also a professional all breed pet and show groomer. I've owned award winning pet spas and worked with the best in the dog world. I spent over ten years volunteering in search and rescue. 15 years breeding working Bloodhounds, 30 years of German Shepherds and 10 years of rescuing as well as breeding registered Pit Bulls. I was rescuing dogs before rescuing was cool! haha I have worked at several veterinary clinics as well. 

I have personally handled thousands of dogs and cats in my long dog career, as well as owned 100's myself over the years. 

That's about it for me, how about you? Leave me comment below and tell us about your journey with dogs. 



Training my dog to find a person

At my pet spa


UK Visitors

Welcome UK visitors to Family Disaster Dogs online!
Although I'm an American author and dog professional the worldwide web has given me the opportunity to connect with some wonderful folks who have contributed to the publication of my books. My New book "Start Mantrailing" features RRI North Scotland Search Dog on the cover and teammates in the book, plus American dogs. A share of the book price is donated in appreciation to RRI North Scotland K9SAR. Help us find missing persons with dogs buy a book or share the page. Thank you! My children's picture book has illustrations by UK cartoonist Scotty King. You can find the books at Amber Higgins Amazon United Kingdom author page Have a great day! Thanks for stopping by!

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