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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 

Author Amber Higgins

Author Amber Higgins
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Welcome UK and worldwide visitors and friends 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 pictures for my books. The "Start Mantrailing" book features RRI K9 North Scotland trained Search and Rescue Dog "Amber" on the cover and her teammates training in the book, plus American dogs using my training methods. A portion of sales of the Start Mantrailing book or copies were donated to RRI North Scotland. The children's picture book "My Puppy Can Find Me" has my daughter and bloodhound as illustrations by UK cartoonist Scotty King. You can find the books on Amazon UK or use the contact page to order from me. When you click the links will take you to your own county pages of this site.

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