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Friday, February 24, 2012

Obedience Tricks

Obedience Tricks and Tips
These lessons will be posted on an obedience page for easy access as well as in this posting...

Before we get started on teaching your dog more search and rescue skills lets go over some obedience tricks and tips that can help you control a hard to handle dog or teach a new puppy manners on a leash.

These tips and tricks can teach any dog how to behave on a leash in a few sessions.

These Obedience tricks and tips are for you to use to teach your family dog to be a well mannered member of your pack without having to attend an obedience training course.

These basic obedience commands and lessons are intended to help teach you how to control and handle your dog in order for you to train your pet to assist you during an emergency. 

If you have any problem handling your dog or getting your dog to pay attention when you are training search tactics then use these obedience lessons to teach your dog to pay attention to you and to follow your directions.

I’m a firm believer in following the Bloodhound and any other breed who is trailing naturally. For this reason, I do not believe in obedience training trailing dogs but I do believe that tracking and air scenting dogs should undergo obedience training. 

The reason is that we follow a trailing dog’s direction but a tracking dog follows our direction or commands. (By now you should know the difference between a trailing dog and tracking dog, if not, go back to lesson 1)

Obedience training discourages a dog to run ahead and perform on natural instincts that I want them to use to find a person.

Obedience training teaches our dogs to pay attention to us, to look at us for what to do next and I do not want my Bloodhound to depend on me to tell them where to go. 

I want my Bloodhound running ahead showing me where to go.

On the other hand, I do want to tell my area search or air scenting dog, my German Shepherd, what area to look in or which room to stay out of or to go into.

I teach these dogs how to climb in and out of windows, up and down ladders and into tunnels so they can get into rubble and debris to search for a person. 

These air scenting dogs need directions to perform the feats they are asked to do. 

They undergo obedience training before and during search training. 

They constantly learn as I do with each dog how to use their skills to achieve the swiftest most effective results.


Dogs learn faster if the lessons are short and to the point. 

Training your dog twice a day for 15 minutes will bring better results then once a day for a longer time frame.

Dogs have short attention spans; many dogs get bored quickly if the task is not exciting. Dogs do not learn when they are bored.

Read the lesson about collars before you do these lessons. 

These lessons are done using either a flat collar or a regular choke chain collar and 6 ft leash unless otherwise stated. Off leash dogs can learn from these lessons too with praise and encouragement.

These dog training tricks and tips are not the ordinary class room techniques you find in dog training books or classes. These tips and tricks are proven methods for handling a dog.

In order to train a dog, the exercises have to be repeated and rewarded time and time again. 

No dog learns immediately, although I can get immediate results using these handling techniques, the dog has not learned the positioning I want. They have only been placed in the position I want through the use of the leash and my body movement. 

Continued in the next post will be how to teach a dog to heel or walk nice on a leash without pulling.  This dog handling trick is not known by many trainers and will stop a dog from pulling you on a leash.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lesson 26:Cadaver Dog Training

Lesson 26
Cadaver Scent Dog Training
For the Family Dog

Cadaver dogs find our loved ones after they have passed away. This sad aspect of disaster relief brings closure to the search in ways that one can’t comprehend until they experience it. Most people experience a sense of relief that is mixed with disbelief and an overwhelming feeling of loss.

Depending on the incident or disaster, the search for a cadaver signals hope is gone for finding a live subject. Often, to much time may have gone by for a person to survive or the disaster was on a grand scale with many causalities that put the odds of survival very low. 

In the event of a disaster our biggest fear is finding our loved ones after their death and this is not an easy subject for many people to cope with or face. 

A person can prepare themselves for this horrible possibility by training their dog to find cadaver scent so that they can tend to a loved one’s afterlife and bring closure to the search for that person. 

A Cadaver is a human body after death. The body begins to change how it smells immediately at death in ways only a dog can detect. Depending on environmental factors the scent or odor can become apparent to a person within a couple of hours after death. Sometimes longer, for instance if a body is frozen then we humans can not smell it but a dog can.

Training your dog to find the cadaver scent will result in your dog finding all cadavers or parts in the area because your dog is only looking for one scent not individual people. The scent to the dog is the same but if your dog is trained to find a person by name they will identify this person if asked to find them by name regardless if they are a cadaver or not. 

Why? Because your dog will look for individual scents associated with that person, such as soap or perfume the person wears regularly. Those familiar scents will lead your dog to the person by name.

To train a dog to find any cadaver and body parts, you first need the scent. Then you can use either the toy or hide and seek method of air scent training to teach your dog the scent with a word associating this specific odor, such as “Seek” or “Recover”. When you do a live person search you would use a command like, “Find them” or “Get Vicki” so the dog knows what to look for.

The cadaver scent is placed in a toy or in a container with holes in it, a coffee can with a lid or PVC pipe with holes and caps on the ends work to hold the scent items. These training toys objects are hidden for the dog to find.

The first thing you must do is gather cadaver scent. You might be wondering how in the world we do this.

In the United States, officials and certified SAR personnel can assess special drug company catalogs that make synthetic scents of many types for search dog training purposes. The catalogs are amazing; every scent imaginable is available, along with illegal drugs, why clearance is needed to order. 

Scent is so complex that drug companies have be able to make a scent similar to that of a person who has been drowned for a time limit, such as within 2-4 hours or 6-8 hours. They make live person scents that have the odor of fear included for searching for a person who is afraid like when they have wandered away in the woods or been kidnapped. Another scent might include an illness or age factor for searching for nursing home runaways which happens more then you might think. 

The average person can not gain access to these supply companies without authorization and it is against the law in the USA to obtain and possess a body or body parts of any kind. 

Then how do we get cadaver scent to teach the family dog? We collect our fingernails and toenails from friends and family members. We save only natural hair trimmings when somebody gets a trim or hair cut. No dyed or tinted hair or hair treated with gels or hairspray.

The nails and hair of a living person actually change from live to dead scent rather quickly once away from the living body.

For training your dog, the hair and nails are kept in a sealed baggie or container in a freezer until use to preserve and keep the scent fresh for the dog. Take the container out of the freezer before training and place some of the contents into the training toy. Afterwards, the toy should then be kept in the freezer between sessions.

Use the toy method for training your dog in this scent.

Dogs trained to search in water for a person who has been swept away in a flood or tsunamis are trained to find the cadaver scent along with live person scent. If you live in an area prone to tsunami or floods I would recommend teaching your dog the cadaver scent.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lesson 25: Area Search Training

Lesson 25
Area Search Training
Teaching your dog to do an Area Search

Now that you’ve learned the fundamentals of scent and how a tracking dog works you can train your dog to do an area search when the LKL (Last Known Location) of a person is not known.

You might have wondered when you read the tracking dog lessons, how do you start your dog on tracking a person if you do not know where the person was last standing or sitting?

This is where air scenting and area search can play an important part in tracking a person who is missing. Not only then but when you do not know for sure or from where they entered or even if they are in an area or building.  Sending a dog in to clear the area or building saves time.

You do not have to train your family dog to do tracking or trailing in order for the dog to do an area search. You can use this lesson to train your dog to only do air scenting without any tracking experience.

Many detection dogs that air scent or area search work off a leash to cover more ground. Obedience training and good response to your directions while off leash will help you and your dog work together better while doing detection or air scenting.

However, if your dog does not work well off a leash you can still train on a leash. The lesson is the same.

There are two methods you can use to train your dog for air scenting.

Hide and Seek Method

The Hide and Seek Method trains your dog to do air scenting and area searches without a scent article. You have your helper person hide from your dog in an open area then you ask your dog to search the area.

Your dog may or may not follow the person’s foot print trail; your dog’s nose may or may not go to the ground. Most often your dog’s nose will be held high seeking the scent in the air.

At first, the best place to train is in an open field with high grass. Have the person run off with the dog watching. The person sits down in the grass and holds still. You release your dog or run with your dog on leash asking your dog to find them.

Follow the dog, if the dog does not go then have the person make a noise and you tell your dog to find it again.

Continue making noise or calling the dog until the dog gets the idea.

Praise your dog in big ways and they will remember what to do next time.

This can be done indoors with family members running off to hide behind doors then asking your dog to find them. The dog usually will consider this a great game to play and learn quickly that when you say “find them” somebody is hiding.

The dog gets praise or a treat upon finding the person and will look over and over again until every person in the area is found.

The Second method is the Toy Method.

The toy method is used to teach a dog to find any live human scent or a particular scent such as the scent of a bomb, drugs or a cadaver (dead person). A toy the dog enjoys playing with is usually associated with that specific scent.

Police dogs and bomb detection dogs are generally chosen for training if they have a high play drive and desire to play ball or chase an object because this makes training the dog easier, saves time and funds.

If your dog loves to play with a toy then follow the instructions below to train your dog using the toy method of training.

If your dog does not care to chase a ball or toy then use the hide and seek instructions.

Toy Method 

In order for your dog to learn what scent you want them to find you have to associate the scent with something they enjoy, like a toy. In order to do this you have to make the toy smell like the scent first.

The toy has to be saturated in the scent of what you wish to find. The dog actually looks for the toy and not the person, drug or bomb. The dog is thinking about the toy and the play reward afterwards.

To make your dog’s toy smell like live human scent or one of your family members you will place your dog’s training toy in a sealed container with clothing from the person.

If you want your dog to find any live human scent then you can mix different people’s objects but if you want your dog to find a person by name then use only that person’s clothing. Dirty socks and hats work great.

Set the sealed container to soak up scent in a warm, dark place for 2 weeks. The store it in a freezer for future use.

When you are not using the toy for training, keep the toy in the sealed container or the toy will be contaminated with other scents. Only you can touch this toy. Do not let anybody else touch this toy.

Your dog can have other toys to play with; this toy is a training toy only.

After your dog has learned one person’s scent by name because you always used the name when asking your dog to search  then you can add another person to your dog’s memory by doing the lessons with the other person’s scented toy and using the person’s name. Be careful not to confuse your dog by asking them to find more then one or two people a day.

Once the toy is saturated with the scent you will hide the toy and ask your dog to find the toy. The dog naturally uses its nose to find the toy consequently finding the scent you asked for. You play with your dog with the toy as a reward.

After multiple lessons or play sessions of finding the scented toy, the toy is replaced by the person or object (drug or bomb smell) of scent the toy has been saturated with. The dog is asked to find the toy and uses its nose to find its toy thinking of the play afterwards.

When the dog finds the scent they find the person. You, the handler, have carried a toy to reward your dog with a play session after they find the person. An unscented toy is fine for reward and play, you can save the scented toy for training or to use if you do not have a person to hide.

The person who hides should carry a toy to play with the dog too. Especially if the dog is not on a leash because your dog will reach the person before you do and you want the dog rewarded as soon as possible upon reaching the person.

You can hide objects from the person who scent you are working if the person is not available to hide. This works well when you age the search area for training in case a person is missing for hours or days.

The toy and person can be hidden indoors and outdoors where you can play with your dog. A variety of locations and settings will teach you and your dog what to expect in different situations.

You do not have to make a training course as we did in the tracking and trailing lessons but doing so will make the training easier for you and build your confidence in your dog's ability.

You simply have a person run or walk swiftly away from you and your dog to hide then turn your dog loose or follow on a leash until you find the person.

At first, do this in a small area, making the area larger as you learn more.

At first, when the person runs to hide they keep your dog’s attention until they are out of sight.

Your dog’s nose will be high in the air or working the ground as they follow the person in pursuit. If you make this fun and enticing most dogs love this game.

Some dogs are hard starters and need more excitement to get going. Food treats might help if you have an older dog that is not interesting in chasing anybody. By using a command your dog is learning to do as you ask and not to chase but to follow.

After the first few sessions, once your dog has the idea, the person will walk to hide and hide without your dog watching. You do the lesson the same, tell your dog to find them and follow your dog. If your dog does not go then the person comes out of hiding to entice the dog until the dog does go to look.

With both methods, once your dog is finding the person, you will age the area after a person or object is hidden beginning with a 10 minute wait to begin the search then adding 15 minutes after a few sessions until your dog can find an object or person who is hidden 24 hours in different locations.

Be sure and read aging the training course to learn how your dog can find a person who is missing for days.

Always allow your dog to use its natural scenting ability to find the person. When your dog finds the person, play with your dog like they are the best dog in the world.
Cadaver Scent will be discussed in the next lesson.

Miss Lilly 

Be sure to read Lesson 24 before you do this lesson.

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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