Before we go any further in training the family disaster dog I want to stress that you should never get mad at a dog when you are asking them to do this type of training or at any time really, but especially with search dog training.
A dog who is going to help you look for a lost person or carry a backpack while you both make your way through rubble after an earthquake will not help you if the dog thinks you will get mad at them. Period. A dog can and will stop doing this helpful task for you if you try to force them in any way.
The ability of the dog to come to the aid of its family or pack members, such as when they guard the home or car, is what is required in an emergency situation. The dog has to want to come to your aid and if your mad at them then why would they want to do that for you?
Most modern dog training methods use positive reinforcement cloaked in a variety of names, such as clicker training or drive motivation which both give the dog a reward for doing good and redirect the dog's bad behavior to a good behavior.
In other words, the methods redirect the dog from the bad behavior by prompting them into paying attention to the clicker or toy, or dog treat then the dog is asked to do what the handler wants for the reward offered. Petting your dog and making a big deal out of their performance does the same thing. These methods avoid punishing the dog as do some forms of standardized obedience classes.
Most obedience classes require a collar and leash which is used to direct the dog or show them what is wanted of them. Many classes require a choker or correction collar to be used as a way to get the dog to do what is asked. These collars are often misused or poorly explained and a collar that will tighten on the dog's neck such as these types of collars should not be used in search dog training.
If you use one of these collars on your dog, please remove it while doing these lessons and replace it with a flat collar and ID tag. Not only will the removal of the correction collar allow the dog to move forward on a trail to find a person without wondering when a correction will happen, the dog is learning to work in different equipment that tells the dog the job they will be doing.
Family dogs do not need any extra obedience training to participate in these disaster dog lessons but every dog has its day of getting in trouble and a well behaved pet is a much easier student to teach.
If a dog is doing something bad, like chewing a sock or getting into the trash, one of the best ways to stop them is to call them to you. If your dog is not one to come when called then use a treat or get their toy and say "hey, look what I have".
You play with their toy or toss the treat up and catch it then see how long they stay with your sock.
Doggie will want the toy you have because you make what you are doing more fun looking.
Put your sock away, give them the toy instead and play a little with them to show them this makes you happy.
Keep in mind the floor is the dog's world.
You live above them other then your feet, most everything on the floor they may think of as their own until they learn what belongs to you. Your dog might think you left that sock there just for him and wasn't that nice of you. He'll wonder how come you came in and all of a sudden yelled at him and took it away, some friend you are.
When you are calling your dog to you when the dog does a bad behavior and otherwise, you should always use the dog's name first with the word come. If you do not use the dog's name they may think you are calling the cat or your mate, not them. You give them the perfect excuse not to respond.
Always speak in a positive tone. Do not expect the dog to come to you if you sound mad, why would they want to come to you if you are mad that they found your sock ? The dog might think you should be happy because they are cleaning up after you. You tossed the sock.
If you always praise your dog for coming to you when called then what they are doing wrong will not matter because all you have to do is call them to stop the behavior.
To reinforce the redirection from the bad behavior we have to not only call the dog but also give the dog something else to do, such as using the sit or lay commands. We have to ask them to do something for us, like sit or lay which will completely take the dog's mind off of what they were doing that was bad. After they do this good thing for you then give them the full praise of play time or treats as the reward.
If your dog is, let's say, chewing a sock then call your dog to you.
When the dog reaches you by coming when called, even if they bring you the sock...give a slight, small praise as encouragement but:
Do not give them the treat or play time until you have them do something like "sit" in front of you or if they are holding your sock, say "drop the sock".
When they sit or drop the sock, finish by praising your dog.
As mentioned above, if your dog brings you... a sock then accept the sock and give your dog its toy instead of the sock. If your dog was getting into the trash then put the trash where the dog can not get to bag.
Dog homes have to be dog proofed just like a home with children has to be child proofed.
If you have a very bad problem dog, email for help by joining the Google group at the right.
Read the Lesson about encouraging a dog to be the best that they can be and lesson 10 Come when Called for more about training dogs in manners and obedience.
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