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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Evidence Lesson 19

Evidence Search
with your Family Dog
Lesson 19

Evidence can be a very important clue in finding a lost loved one or friend when you are searching for them with your family dog. Evidence is an item that can be linked directly or indirectly to the person you are looking for. During a disaster or emergency situation, including a person who has wandered away or become lost, evidence can help to tell you the story of their trail or journey.

Evidence can tell you what happened. With this in mind you can learn to associate items your dog finds along the way, that you can, mental and in a log book, organize to help you find the person.

Evidence is any item or mark left behind from the person you seek. As this person travels they have left in their trail foot prints, hand prints, crumbled leafs or items of personal belongings. When people are afraid or running they do not realize what they leave behind, such as a dropped piece of paper or removing their coats when they become overheated and confused.

When people are lost, hurt or trapped and in a crisis state of mind they often become confused. You can learn more about the scenarios of a lost person by reading this file which is used in police and rescue training. (the file may take time to open and will require time to read)

Even puppies search for items and people

Back to the evidence on the trail and your dog. As your dog looks for the missing person the dog will find any item the person has touch or the scent particles have settle on. This item can be anything from cigarette butts to toilet tissue, coats, hats, a piece of fabric or a foot print. Even a hot dog wrapper may be covered by scent particles so we can never assume our dog is only hungry.

 If your dog takes you to any item and shows a lot of interest in the item then you are safer to assume the item is from the missing person then to disregard the item without further investigation.

You should be carrying small bags in your backpack for evidence finds , along with a small not book and pence for a log book and property or survey marking tape in a bright color. More on this in another lesson.

Bag the item and tag it with the location, time and a note about how your dog reacted. If the item is large such as a coat, sleeping bag or unmovable like a footprint then use your marking tape to rope the area around the item off for for later retrieval or investigation. This might keep others from damaging the scene by stepping on the item. More on contamination of the location.

I usually have a team member who is trained do this for me so I can pay attention to my dog and keep tracking the person. One of your family members of friends can learn how to recover evidence and be your team member in the event of an actual search.

Repeat any item your dog finds that they indicate could belong to the missing person should be carefully taken into consideration as a clue to your lost person.

In training search dogs of all types we put together lost person scenarios to learn how our dogs will react in different situations and to prepare ourselves for each type of situation. We train by changing the setting and situation in our planning a trail sessions so we can learn to look for different signs and evidence in each setting or learn how a lost person handles the situation they are in.

This teaches our dogs what to do and what evidence to look for in each situation the dog faces in an actual search experience.

Evidence is in every training session you do with your dog and all you have to do is learn to look for the signs and clues along the way.

You can train your dog to look for a piece of evidence on command by using a scent article from another person who the dog knows. You will need a few pieces of clothing or items with the person's scent on them to begin.

Leave your dog in the car or house when you place the items in a yard or area that does not have that person's scent in the area. Make sure the person who scented the articles have not stepped into this location for at least 24-48 hours. Once your dog learns to look on command for a object instead of only the person then you can do this lesson where the person has been also.

After you have placed items in sight and out of sight in the area, bring your dog into the area. Show your dog a scent article you kept for this purpose, let your dog have a good smell then command, " find" or " seek it", or whatever word you want to use that is different then the word you use for tracking or trailing or area searching. Each command must have its own word or the dog will do what it knows already.

Follow your dog and do try at first to make this easy for your dog. The first items should be placed a short distance from where your dog starts looking. It makes no sense discouraging the dogs by making this harder for them or they may not want to do this for you. Search dog training is not the same type of training as obedience work is. This training for you because the dog is doing a natural talent and we have to learn to follow the dog not the other way around.

You dog should not be following any directions from you to find the item. Let the dog look as long as they want and encourage them by saying, "that's a boy or girl", "good dog seek" ..and when they find the item , praise, praise and more praise.

Incorporate this evidence lesson into your tracking and trailing lessons when the opportunity presents itself and during planning for training sessions.

Practice searching for items and evidence a couple of times a week. Make these lessons fun by doing them in your home. Your dog can learn to find dirty socks, lost clothing  items or your keys with practice. If you loos a item get your dog to help you find it.

Lost Person Scenarios 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lesson 18: The Leash

Leash Knowledge 

Before you put a leash on a dog it's a good idea to learn about how to use the leash and what the equipment is meant to be used for. 

The leash is not simply a rope that tethers your dog to you or a means of control. The leash is a communication tool that makes asking your dog to do things for you a possibility and with the proper and intended use of a leash you will be communicating with your dog instead of being controlled by the leash and the dog's movement or intention.

Therefore, the leash can become either a tool for you to use to communicate to your dog or for your dog to use to control you, such as when your dog drags you down the sidewalk. Who is in charge ? Who is controlling who? In the sidewalk case, the dog is using the leash to control you!

Leashes come in many sizes and types for several different uses, just like a collar has many intended purposes so does a leash. You can learn about collars in lesson 17.

The leash is called a lead in some circles and often attaches to a collar. Some leashes have a collar included, such as many show dog leads or slip leads. 

Deciding on which type of leash or lead you use depends upon what you and your dog will be doing along with how comfortable you wish you and your dog to be. Chain leashes can be quite painful if the slip through your hand when your dog pulls or takes off while a flat leather leash can still burn your hand if the dog pulls away to fast a nylon lead will make a much harsher burn then leather will.

A leather leash will stretch while a nylon leash will not give. I prefer leather because I can get a better grip and the burn is less if the dog takes off. I use a long nylon leash for tracking and trailing because it is difficult to find a leash longer then 6 foot in leather. A leather leash does not tangle as easily as a nylon leash either.

Any leash can become tangled around your or your dog's legs tripping both of you if you are not careful. Never pull constantly on a leash or your dog will pull hard against the pressure created making a game of tug a war with you.

If your dog pulls on the leash to hard, all you have to do is give the dog some more leash or slack and turn around to go the other direction. You keep walking and let your dog go until the dog hits the end of the leash and the leash will work for you bringing the dog around and back to your side. This does take practice. 

Never keep constant pressure on the leash, if you need to correct your dog, give the leash some slack and then pull the slack out of the leash to tighten and release the collar which will give your dog a correction or a cue to stop what it is doing. 

Be aware that when using a leash on a chain collar which has to much chain when the collar is tighten allows the snap of the leash to hit your dog in the face or eye possibly injuring your dog.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lesson 17: Choke Chain Use

How to Use a Choker Collar Correctly

Both of the chain choker style collars mentioned in Lesson 16 are meant to be used during  training sessions only and in a way that is similar to a bit in a horses mouth.


This training equipment works by tightening and then immediately releasing to give the animal only a moment’s correction in a quick and humane way that distracts the animal with a slight pressure.


These types of collars should not be pulled on but slightly and gently pulled then released by movement from your hand and the leash.


This instant pressure on the neck is usually done while the dog is moving and the dog learns to turn and stop similar to a horse. Once you master the way to use the choke chain collar you will do so with a light flick of the lease correct your dog.


All you should do is pull the leash until the collar is closed on your dog’s neck then you should loosen the leash immediately so that the collar slides open. The collar will slide open if you have the collar on correctly as outlined in the Collar lesson.


When used correctly your dog will walk on a loose leash at all times. If you look at AKC obedience dogs in the show ring you will notice the dogs leash is not tight when the handler has the dog sitting at heel.


Only in the confirmation show ring is the leash held tightly when the dog is lead around the ring and that is to keep the dog’s head up and for looks while pacing around. Show dogs are taught to walk like this with the leash tight while obedience dogs are not. 

Obedience dogs should always have a loose leash and choke collar.


Practice pulling the leash up and then release the leash by lowering your hand until you have this action mastered. You dog will appreciate you not pulling on the collar all the time which teaches the dog nothing but to pull on the leash.


A tight collar or leash actually encourages the dog to pull and if a dog is pulling the best thing to do is to loosen the leash or collar then pull up and loosen again to give your dog a signal that you want to slow down.


The hardest thing to learn is loosening the leash which loosens the collar. Most people need a few days of practice with their dog to master using a choke chain correctly. 

Do not get discouraged if you do not seem to get the hang of it, keep practicing until you automatically release the tension on the collar every time you pull the leash. This takes practice. 

Every time you notice the leash and collar are tight, loosen the leash some so your dog is comfortable. This prevents injury to the dog’s neck plus your dog will respond to a slight squeeze and release much better then you tugging on the leash. They do love to play tug a war if you do.


The prong training collar is made to work the same way, tighten then release without hurting your dog. The prong type of collar is made to pinch the dog slightly not stab the dog in pain to get them to behave.


The collars are made to tighten and release for a reason and the reason is they are training equipment not meant to be worn at all times. These collars can seriously hurt your dog if left on without a leash or if used when the leash is tied or held hard.


Both collars should be 3 inches bigger then your dog’s neck so the collar has room to release and tighten.


Never leave these collars on your dog without supervision. If the choker collar is all you have then use a snap to hook the rings together so the collar will not tighten if you turn your dog loose.



Next Lesson

How to use a leash

          More lessons to Come
Evidence Search
          Setting up Training Courses
          Water Searches
 Advanced Search Dog Techniques
Dog Backpacking for Survival
Dog Retrieves First Aid Kit
 Dog Retrieves Items as Directed
 Dog Takes Item to Indicated Person
“Go Get Help” Sending your dog for help
  Sending Dog to a Person
  Rescue Dig on Command
 Dog Alerts Others to your Whereabouts

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