Train any pet dog to find family members in case the person goes missing
You can use your dog to find children, elderly or family after earthquakes or floods.
Only do this trailing/tracking lesson with your dog 1 or 2 times a week. Skipping a week is okay because we do not want your dog to get tired of playing this game.
If you haven't already, read the first lesson of "Getting Started" and the Scent Articles continue as instructed after the overview.
This lesson can be done indoors or outside, with a dog on leash or loose depending on the dog and where you want to practice. I often start this lesson indoors with a loose dog and a child playing hide and seek for the first few weeks.
These guidelines should be followed indoors as well as outdoors for the best results.
Start with a person your dog knows and only do this lesson with that person 2 to 4 times each session once or twice a week.
After 2 weeks, if your dog is finding the person fairly easily then you can change people and scent articles and only then use a different person. If you change people or scents to early your dog could get confused and lose interest.
If your dog ever loses interest then stop and play with them for a few minutes. Then do the lesson again step by step so your dog understands. The steps for this lesson will be posted on a separate page for easy reference.
Hold your dog by its collar as the person slowly runs and waves at the dog to a hiding place that is easy to find and only one turn away.
Hold the scent article, the person's sock, to your dog's nose, say "Smell" and then turn your dog loose and say "Find so and so" use the person’s name, follow your dog to the person. More about the scent article below.
When you and your dog find the person, praise, praise, praise by you and have the person shower this dog with attention. Your dog will be so happy to do this again, you'll hardly be able to hold him.
Repeat the lesson a few times each day.
Read lesson 6 " Making Trails" ( in the menu above you will find a lesson links page to this and all the lessons) to learn how the person should hide and how your dog will find them before your person hides to often. The dog can be easily confused and refuse to work if you ask them to think to hard at first or do to complex of a trail.
If you dog ever refuses to find a hiding person, go back to previous lessons and retrain until the dog is more confident and understands exactly what you are asking. Some dogs catch onto finding people right away and others take a little more encouragement.
Never let the dog think it has not accomplished this and it will always lead you to them in a real life emergency. You must learn to Trust your dog's natural ability to find its pack.
If he led you to a blanket and then goes to the closet to find the person, then the person has at one point or another touched this blanket.
Once your dog finds a person who has been hidden 30 minutes, you can have the person hide without your dog seeing the person run away to hide. Give the dog the scent article, say "smell" and "Find 'em" the dog will go find the person using only the sock and trail left by the subject. More on this in later lessons. (look at the lessons link page above)
Even if you had to lead the novice dog to the person.
Never ever scold the dog during this training or he won't want to help you.
This is one area of training we can not make a dog do, they can refuse and you don't want them to do that !
If you ever have to call in a missing person's report, give the officer in charge your frozen scent article to use with the police or search dogs. They will be impressed that you knew this helpful clue in the investigation and it will save valuable time.
Remember your dog has lived with you a long time, he knows each family member's name so ask him to find them by name, and then if the sock isn't available he can still help you in real life disasters.
During the first 2 weeks of training, use only one person a day for your dog to find or the dog may get confused. Once he has the idea, you can change scent articles and people in the next lesson.
A scenting dog is not trained by you, they do this naturally. Do not expect them to do so just because you tell them to.
Be careful to avoid K9 Burn Out. ( read the article in the lessons page)
Just like people who overwork, dogs can experience "Burn Out" and not feel up to preforming the job.
If your dog loses interest then take a few weeks break and go back to training only one day a week at the most. Working actual tracking courses like discussed above every two weeks works well for most dogs.
If some dogs are worked to often the fun goes out of the game for them, so the less often they get the chance to play or hunt the more excited they get when the hunt is on again.
Once your dog gets the idea and is finding people you can ask the person to hide for longer time, gradually make the time longer until you can have the person take a walk the night before and ask the dog to follow the person's scent trail the next morning.
For instance, the person is a friend or a child goes to spend the night at a friends, they leave your home the night before to walk to their home and the next morning before people have walked on the same path have your dog smell the person's scent article and start at the doorway to follow the scent trail to the friend's house...Praise the dog well, make this a very happy reunion and your dog will find them every time!
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