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Monday, March 19, 2012

Advanced Alert to Danger

Advance or Follow up Lesson
 Teaching your Dog to Alert you to Danger

In Search Dog terms "Alert" and "Indicate" have the same meaning.

Moses finds man in water
This lesson is a follow up to the two previous lessons that teach your dog how to alert you to danger, such as fire or smoke, an earthquake and when the emergency warning sirens sound off. In the previous lessons we went over how to teach your dog to wake you and other family members whether they were sleeping in bed or unconscious under pretend rubble.

In this lesson you'll learn how to teach your dog to "Alert" you when you are awake and how to continue improving these skills and use these lessons with other disaster or survival dog skills.

After you have read lessons 26 - 27 and  followed the instructions you will continue to work with your dog whenever possible and in different settings or locations. With each different setting change the material you use to make the training set-up look like a disaster scene or rubble pile. 

Get creative, bury yourself under cardboard boxes or let your children make forts out boxes when your dog is sleeping or outdoors then let your dog in to find you or the children. Use the garage next time or a friend's house. Each time you play these games it teaches you and your dog new skills and scenarios.

Encourage your dog to paw and wake up the pretending to be unconscious person in different locations and times of the day.  When your dog does respond in a way that attempts to move or nudge the person, praise them to do it again.

Use your dog's toy and treats to get them motivated and looking for the person. After your dog is looking and has the idea then gradually use the toy or treat less and less until your dog no longer uses the toy or treat to find the person or you.

Replace the toy or treat reward with talking and petting your dog when they do this incredible feat. Always trust your dog and guide them without punishment and with praise.

Teaching your dog to alert you to different odors and items is the same as teaching them to find a person, except you use the odor as the scent article and the odor in a container as the hidden item in training.  You can read the lessons here at Family Disaster Dogs about training your dog to trail and track or area search for a lost person for further details.

When you are working with your dog to find the hidden person or odor, you can teach your dog to go ahead of you and look for what you seek then return to you when they find the scent by teaching them "Refind" which will be covered in the next lesson. This is like sending a scout ahead of you.

You can also teach your dog that you will be following them to the missing person on or off a leash by going along with your dog each time. If your dog moves to fast or slow then talk to your dog to slow them down or speed them up and develop a speed of working which is more comfortable for you as a team.

With each lesson you and your dog will find a pace that is comfortable for both of you. When you reach this point in training you will feel a great satisfaction in knowing your communicating with your four legged best friend.

This feeling is the bonding you often hear of search and rescue dogs sharing with their handlers. It's a natural teamwork sense of confidence that comes with practice. Practice makes perfect.

Once your dog is going to a person and pawing them or waking them, then you do the same lesson but you are the person hiding so your dog learns to alert you to danger by waking you up.

After your dog is waking and alerting a sleeping person then your dog is easier to teach how to to alert a person who is awake by simply asking your dog to go to the person and paw or bark or sit at that person to alert you of the person. Again this is similar to your dog finding the person but the dog makes sure to "alert" you with pawing, nudging the person or barking to "Indicate" which search dogs also do.

By using the person's name the dog learns to go and alert on that person only. 

This is helpful in case the person is somebody you know who is buried under rubble or missing.

To teach your dog to alert you when you are awake and not in rubble or a dangerous situation but pending danger you will ask your dog to alert by coming to you and barking,pawing,rubbing on you or however your dog likes to get your attention. Some dogs will come and sit to look at us, this is the dog's "alert" to you.

Learn to "Read" your dog to find how they naturally alert you to what is going on. Many dog's nudge us with a nose to get us to notice something they see. Use this as an indication or an alert by encouraging the behavior when the warning sirens sound or when the weather turns dangerous and whenever you can do a fire drill with your pets and family.

When you feel danger or get the chance to practice this, then you'll include your dog running to you by you calling "come" and say "alert" or "speak" or "give me your paw"..whatever..then praise your dog and go together to do the evacuation plan that is in place. 

By doing this over and over you'll teach your family dog to do this for you when the time comes.

Good Luck and Be Safe!

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UK Visitors

Welcome UK visitors 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 Search and Rescue Dog "Amber" on the cover and her teammates in the book, plus American dogs training that I know. A portion of the sales of the Start Mantrailing book or copies are 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 visit my book page above to order from me.

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Author Amber Higgins

Author Amber Higgins
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