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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Finding a Lost Dog

Tips and Tricks for Finding a Lost Dog

Realizing your dog is missing is a horrible feeling. Finding your dog can be one of the most difficult things to do because dogs can cover a lot of ground in a very short time. 

Dogs are friendly and will get into a car with strangers or follow a stranger home if they can not find you. The fact that your dog will return to the spot they last saw you in greatly overlooked when a dog is lost. Here are tips for finding your lost dog.

Irish Water Spaniel Kelly

An old Hunting Dog Trick

Hunters who use dogs know to leave their jacket where they turned the dogs loose if the dogs have not returned from the hunt by the time the hunters leave the field. The hunter will return the next day to find the dogs sleeping on the jackets.

When you first realize the dog is missing place a piece of your clothing at the last place you saw the dog. If the dog escaped from the yard or house then place the dog’s bed or blanket where they can find it.  Place the bed outside of the yard or house with a bowl of food.

If the dog got loose when you were walking it in a public place then leave an article of yours at the spot you lost the dog and then begin the search. Chances are when you check back at the Last Known Location of the dog the dog will be there wondering where you are.

An old Dog Breeder Trick

If the dog has ran off from your home or yard put some of your dog’s food or snacks in the dog’s bowl. This works best with dry food so if your dog eats wet food but likes dry dog treats use treats instead.

The idea is to shake the food in the bowl so that the dog thinks you are feeding. The dog can hear the food hit the bottom of the bowl from a very long way away. Keep this in mind as you make the food hit the bowl sound like feeding time.

You can use your hand to drop the food piece by piece into the bowl as a tease to prompt the dog to come to you. Rocks and a tin can will work too if a bowl and food are not nearby.  This works great for horses that are hard to catch too.

Let’s Go Trick

If the dog has just now ran off or became lost try honking the horn on your car. Animals often come to noises to investigate what is going on. If your dog knows the sound of the horn they will come to the car. Starting the car can work the same way. 

Dogs learn how the cars in the family each sound like and they know when you are leaving you start the car. If the dog is lost in a strange place and arrived in the car when they hear the car start they will not want to be left behind and will return to the car. This works at home for dogs who like to go for rides in the family car. 

I hope these tips and tricks help if your dog is ever missing.

Sorry if we missed you at the Dec 12th book signing. The weather and flu prevailed. I look forward to meeting you at the soon to be rescheduled event as well as the upcoming book tour starting in February. Check back soon for updates or sign up for updates on the right sidebar.

If you would like to set up a book signing or dog training event feel free to use to contact box at right.

Happy New Year

Friday, December 11, 2015

Holiday Book Signing

Holiday Author Meet and Greet !

Book Signing !

Dec 12th 2015   Saturday  11am to 1 pm

Learn how your dog can Rescue You! 

Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters
1240 Bay Street (at the bridge)
Florence, OR 97439

(541) 997-3443

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How a Dog Follows its Nose

How a Dog Follows its Nose

Understanding Tracking Dogs

The most effective and quickest way for your dog to know who to look for is if you have the ability to tell the dog who the person is. Then the dog can go straight to the person.

Otherwise, if we can not tell the dog which person to look for, the dog can only work by finding any and all human scent in the area which is often contaminated with many other persons odors.

This is why there are different types of search and rescue dogs. Air Scenting Dogs do an Area Search to seek out any human scent in an area while a Tracking or Trailing Dog follows the exact path of only the one person they are told to find.

The family dog already knows the members of the household and friends by name who visit while the professional search dog is usually only called out to find strangers.
This difference is an advantage in training our pets for this job because the person's name can often be used to tell the dog who you wish to find instead of having to gather a scent article as outlined below.

You can teach your dog to know everybody's name by using the person's name when you talk to your dog and by reading many of the lessons here at Family Disaster Dogs.

To be on the safe side, it is always a good idea to Prepare to Train and Prepare to Use your Family Disaster Dog ahead of time by gathering "scent articles" in order for your dog to know exactly who to look for in case the odors from a disaster are overwhelming and confusing.

The gathering of a scent article is usually preformed at the search incident by a search dog handler who speaks to friends and family of the missing person before starting an actual search. Sometimes this is done by incident command and the information is passed onto the search dog handler.

For family use, we will skip the middle man because you, the family, will have this information and the scent article ready ahead of time.

Keep in mind, a scent article is a life saver and if you ever have to call on a professional search dog team for a lost family member, critical time will be saved if you are ready when help arrives.

with your own dog and any other search dog who comes on-call to help you.

One of the easiest ways to find a lost person is to give a dog the person's scent and watch him find the scent.

The dog is only looking for the smell and not for the actual person. They do not necessarily associate the scent with the person unless the person is somebody they know very well with that scent.

When you are using a "scent article" your dog will be "tracking" or "trailing" the exact person.

One piece of information that is often misunderstood about a dog hunting with its nose is how the dog is using the nose, the dog has different ways it can use its nose.

These different ways are called, Tracking, Trailing and Air Scenting.

"Tracking" or "Trailing" are different forms of following the exact scent of one person.

The two ways are different because;

When a dog "Tracks" he follows the exact footprints of a person but when a dog "Trails" a person, they follow the scent cloud left behind by the person's footprint trail.

This scent cloud can drift away from the exact location of the footprint, therefore a "trailing" dog may be working a few feet away from the person's actual footprint spot in the dirt.

A dog that is, "Tracking", will work the exact footprints and often lose the "trail" if the person does certain things that confuse the dog and handler's ability to read the dog but the dog is smart and if allowed by its handler, the dog will switch to "Trailing" the person's scent via the scent cloud above ground when this happens.

Some trainers and most Tracking Show Dog courses do not allow the dog to switch methods. They want the dog to use one method or the other. When search dogs are certified to work they and their handler have to a pass test in whichever methods they specialize in.

We are going to disregard the show dog rules and save the advanced dog rules for the advanced lessons.

On this blog we are working with pets and we want to give our dogs the advantage of using whichever method that works for them to locate the person we ask them to find.

Bloodhounds like Bo pictured below, work by using any of these 3 methods that work at the time depending on the situation. The trailing Bloodhound may have its nose on the ground then 6 inches above the ground or a foot high in the air !! ...And they always find their man!

The other way search dogs find people is by air scenting the area for any person's scent, the dog works on eliminating all human scent in that area. Air scenting dogs work an area for any scent they are given or trained to find. Some are trained to find people, alive or dead and others are trained to find evidence or items.

Cadaver dogs are trained to find the scent of a dead body, and a dog trained for water rescue would have to learn how that same scent changes in a watery condition.

Air Scenting will be covered in separate and advanced lessons.

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Next you should Read How to Gather a Scent Article in the article called Gathering Scent Articles 4 Your Dog 2 Find You !
My "Wrinkledpups Daisy Mayham" AKC Bloodhound
Here is a great article about the science of smell from the Iowa State Univ.
Although the research and article is about a person's olfactory response, the knowledge can help you to have a better understanding of your dog's abilities which 

Olfaction, the sense of smell, is the least understood of the five senses.

An odorant is a substance capable of eliciting an olfactory response whereas odor is the sensation

resulting from stimulation of the olfactory organs.

Thank you Iowa State Univ. for providing this helpful article.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Thank You for your support !

Many Thanks to everyone for all your wonderful support.

I will be updating this blog over the next couple of weeks and adding new lessons, regular posts about dog and family disaster survival and preparedness, along with a monthly newsletter you can sign up for in the sidebar on the right.

Check out my book below and learn more about me.

 Here's some pictures of a few of my Bloodhounds.

The Family Disaster Dog Book

Easy to follow lessons you can do at home with your dog that will help you survive disasters

Print copy $10.00 from the author  

Click to go to All my books

click to go see the Family Disaster Dogs book at Amazon 
 Buy a E-Book Download or Print Copy Directly from Publisher

The Author with Incredible Sue

Sue was Incredible by all means and ways, she taught me much.
She  lead me on a successful 5 day old case down a busy highway
Another incident Sue and Amber hiked over 22 miles of mountains
and rivers overnight in 12 hours searching for a lost camper.
In her last official search Sue, at 10 years old after surgery 
in the heat of the day at 110 f degrees she indicated and found the location 
of an elderly man who fell from a boat dock 8 hours earlier and 
had not surfaced or been found by dive teams.

Sue  is the mother of several highly talented Mantrailers in several 

U.S. States, Canada and South America
Incredible Sue's Grandson
Carried on the Bloodhound Tradition in Florida
The author's Bloodhound Lilly
with new owner/handler Tammy
who also owned and trained
Puppy Burt from Incredible Sue
(pictured above)

Tammy and Bloodhounds are credited with finding on their very first search
an elderly couple who were missing several months.
These amazing dogs and handler found the remains in a wall and under the floor.
North Dakota USA

Way to Go Dogs!!!!

In Dog We Trust
Dog was sent by God to be by our side
As a reflection of Grace
God spelled Dog backwards
To remind us
We never have to walk alone
In God we Trust

Another Book for you by Amber Higgins

Coming in 2019
My Puppy Can Find Me children book with UK cartoonist art work,,,follow us to find out more :)

find me at

twitter @URDogCanRescueU

Look for Family Disaster Dogs on Facebook

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book Release Family Disaster Dogs

Get the book! 

Pre-Release Special

Click Here to buy a Limited Number and Signed Copy from the Author for only $9.99

Please allow 4 weeks for shipping from the publisher to author to you! Thank you! Be Safe!

 (2018) Available on Amazon see a free preview below

visit Family Disaster Dogs   for more lessons and articles

Monday, July 6, 2015

Interesting Search Dog Facts

Did you know 1 dog equals 100 humans ?

Interesting Search Dog Facts

Did you know 1 trained search dog equals 100 trained human rescuers?

That's right one well trained search dog can cover more ground in less time then one hundred highly trained and skilled human searchers.

Plus we humans cannot use our nose to help  :)

Did you know a dog can learn to find a person who has enter a car and driven down a highway for many miles ?

Here's how,

*I am writing this in simple terms for an easier understanding as this subject is very complex.

When a person is in a car, the person's scent particles are in the air inside the car.

All cars have air vent systems that recirculate fresh air from outside of the car to the inside of the car.

When the air is recirculated the scent particles are carried out of the car and come to rest along the roadway.

A dog can find the scent particles and follow the trail of the car as easily as if the person was walking

Another Interesting Fact

My "Rea Valley's Incredible Sue" Bloodhound

Search dogs and Bloodhounds in particular will take the shortest route to a person and the way the dog goes may not be anywhere near where the subject actually walked.

How is this possible?

Here's how,

Air currents can carry a person's scent over valleys and hollows, through openings in brush or into impressions in the earth's surface as well as indoors or around a house. Wherever the wind currents can reach so can the scent particles.

A person might walk all the way around a valley or a low spot in the country side because they do not want to climb down and back up the other side and if a dog is sent to find them, the dog might cut across the valley or low spot making a straight bee line for the subject.

Or, a short cut because the person is on the other side, much closer actually to the dog as the fresh scent is coming to the dog across the way or as the crow flies.

One More Great Fact

The fresher the scent the faster a dog will work when trailing or tracking ( yes there is a difference read about it on the tracking page). The closer they get the more excited the dogs are because the scent is fresher, closer and more enticing.

Happy Trails, Amber & Family Disaster Dogs  

Sign up for more interesting search dog facts and information at the new site where I will be posting search dog stories and dog training tips ! 

Click to go to

Monday, June 29, 2015

How to Train Your Dog to Find You

How to Train Your Pet Dog To Find You in a Emergency

This Family Disaster Dog lesson will tell you how to teach your family dog to find you during or after a natural disaster or emergency. You do not need to be a dog trainer or attend class to teach your dog to find you. Any dog owner can easily train their own dog to do this at home without any help. Read on to find out how.

A few of the dog training books on the market recommend to begin training a search and rescue dog, air scenting dog, tracking and mantrailing dog to find their handler or owner first as a way to start the dog in scent work. 

While I’m sure this method works fine, I believe like many other dog trainers do, that dogs naturally find or return to their handlers without any training. This natural trait of a dog to return to its owner is reenforced and "trained" as recall or return to handler through praise and repetition whenever the dog comes back to you. Therefore, most of this lesson is apparent in any dog training session if the handler pays attention or reads their dog they will see the dog completing this lesson when the dog returns to them without being told.


Our dogs come to us often during the day, they find us no matter where we are when it’s feeding time, bedtime or walk time. This natural instinct to find us when they want us can be used to our advantage during an emergency or disaster situation.

There’s two ways you can teach your dog to find you, one is without any other tracking or search dog training and the other way is by adding this lesson to your dog’s tracking, air scenting or trailing lessons. You can also take a look at my most recent book "Start Mantrailing-Train a Dog to Find People"  Step by Step For Fun, Work and Sport. (Pub. 2020) 

For those of you wish to train your dog to find you without using any of the other lessons on this site you can follow the directions below. Other dog owners who have been following the lessons here at Family Disaster Dogs can add this lesson into any of their training sessions.

This lesson can be taught to any dog at any age, even young puppies, on and off a leash.

Fred, who I have Groomed is happy to find his owners!

The easiest way to train your dog to find you is to play hide and seek whenever the opportunity comes along. For instance, your walking your dog off-leash on a hiking path. You can quickly and quietly hide behind a tree or other obstacle and wait for your dog to realize your missing.

Do not make any noise unless your dog is in danger.

Most dogs will not take long to notice you have disappeared and they will start looking for you on their own. Some dogs will take longer then others to notice or look for you while other dogs get anxious very quickly when your out of sight.

Once your dog starts looking for you, you can make a few little noises to encourage and direct them or you can wait.

As soon as your dog finds you, praise for a job well done.

You can use this same idea with a long light weight leash on a walk with dogs who will run off without a care in world about where you are. If your dog is this type, they will come back sooner or later to find you. Especially when they get hungry or tired of running.

All the leash does in this training situation is speed things up in training your dog to notice you by limited the area they can work but this can be dangerous if you do not have experience with using a long training leash.  

A fenced yard is safer and works well to keep the dog in an area if they are not trained to stay with you. You can learn how to teach your dog to pay attention on the obedience page.

If your dog  has any trouble finding you at first then make a few noises or call them in an exciting way to encourage them to come to you, praise them for a job well done. If you make the lesson fun the slower dogs will get faster at finding you.

After a few times of playing hide and seek, then remain quite and let your dog realize you haven’t called them and they will start wondering why and see what your up to. Praise them with petting, say “good dog” and play with them to encourage them to look for you anytime your out of sight.

Another way to show your dog to find you can be done at home, anytime you want to play with your dog you can hide in the house and make noises or use a dog toy to make noises to get your dog’s attention and when they find you , praise them. After a few times then stop making the noise and wait.

You can do this in a fun way by running away from your dog all of a sudden indoors or out, call them and then hide. They will be looking for you quickly if you make this a game. You can throw a toy for them to fetch and you can hide while they go out to get the ball or toy.

Another method is to use a tracking course you make yourself. AKC and other tracking dogs going for titles in tracking often learn to track their owners first or as practice in learning how to follow a course.

This is done by you making the trail or track course yourself. You act as the “trail layer” leaving a path of scent on a mapped course for the dog to follow. You can learn more about how to make dog tracking courses on the Lesson Links Page in the page menu at the left.

An easy way to do this is without your dog present, or your dog can be held by somebody else, tied or in the car. You’ll need a couple of items of your clothing you have wore recently that has not been touched by another human.

You will start the path for your dog to follow to you by dropping a item of clothing and walking slowly in a straight line for about 30 paces where you will place another item of clothing along with a dog treat to reward your dog, scruff your feet as you walk another 20 or 30 paces and leave another scent article or item of clothing at the ending of the course or path with a dog treat.

Go get your dog and let the trail of scent settle without anybody else walking over or around it.

Take your dog to the starting clothing item, point to the item and along the path of the scent to the other item.

 Encourage your dog to go forward by starting to walk in the direction of the next item as you tell your dog to go find. Go to the next item of clothing and let your dog find the dog treat, then point and encourage them to go to the next and last item.

After you do this a few times, you will be able to point to an item of your clothing and your dog will follow your scent trail to every item and place you have been in the order that the scent was laid out.

Wrinkledpups Daisy Mayham (the author)
The nose knows

If you are ever missing; another person can ask your dog to find you by giving your dog your scent. 

If you say your name at every item then your dog will learn your name and find you by name if another person ask them to. (more on this below)

You should use an area you have not walked on in the last 24 hours and leave the trail once it is laid by walking straight ahead away from the last item.

Do not cross the scent path you just made or else your dog will be going in circles confused following your steps. You have to walk the long way around or have a car pick you up then drive you around to the beginning of the course.

 I will be writing more about advanced search and scenting methods your dog can learn in coming lessons links. Such as a missing member search or following people’s scent that have traveled by car or  horseback and motorcycles.

After you practice teaching your dog to find you in several ways, you can hide and have a helper release your dog to locate you either by name or showing the dog your clothing item.

Area search dog lessons can be set up using yourself as the subject or lost person where you go out into a field or area and hide with a helper releasing your dog.

Anytime you get the chance to play with your dog in this way they will be learning to find you in an emergency or disaster. You will be reinforcing the natural instinct in the dog to find and join their family pack if they are separated.

Children can learn how-to with my children's picture book called "My Puppy Can Find Me" . Find it at my author page below. This book is a great gift! 

Visit my Author Page on Amazon where you can find all my books for free on kindle or listen to them on Audible and get a paperback. 

Thank yo for sharing this article so others can learn to be safe with a dog's help! 

chloe n mijo
Family Disaster Dogs
Chloe and Mijo can find you !!!!

Get over a 160 pages of lessons in the Family Disaster Dogs ebook or paperback
Teach your dog to help your family in emergencies

click book cover for free preview below

Includes Pet CPR , evacuation laws, shelter info and updated bug-out supply list

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dogs as Team Players

How to Encourage a Dog to be your Team Mate and Partner 

Washee Thunderfoot 

Learn to love and watch a dog accomplish what they set out to do. Capture that moment that resides in all of us. The moment of accomplishment of though, focus, action and movement in perfect harmony.

This harmony in nature is what brings into creation the art of being able to put in motion a single thought transformed in real life from the joy of the moment.

Dog love to please us, they have proven time and time again throughout history that they will do for us anything we ask or need with tail wagging joy and total commitment.

They learn early on to come to us and ask us to take them for a walk, to feed them and to love them.
They know how to get our attention and we've all heard about how well our dogs train us.

A well trained dog is actually a partnership built on trust and love with its handler. Dogs that are trained to fear being wrong are not working with their handler as a teammate, as a partner. They are reacting from fear of punishment and have learned that the handler will scare them if they do that behavior again.

They have not learned to think of the performance but of the punishment. Even the slightest punishment puts the dog's attention on what you are doing "to" him and not what you are asking them to do at the moment "for" you.

We want your dogs to be thinking of what they can do for you instead of what you might do to them.

Training dogs with food rewards can bring on a similar response as punishment where the dog is only working for the food or for what you will do to them or give them and not with you as a team member.

Food therefore, is only recommended as a way to motivate the dog to begin to pay attention to the handler's clues and once this is established, the food should be withheld and replaced with praise and encouragement that leads to teamwork.

As a team player your dog will be a reliable and trustworthy partner working with you toward a common goal instead of working in response to fear, punishment or food.

2 generations of Search and Rescue Dogs
Akelia and Chaos- mother and son 1997-2009
 Raised by us with the parent dogs, Nikki and Shotgun (1990-2003)

All rights reserved including photo
Amber S Higgins 2015

Author Amber Higgins

Author Amber Higgins
Click Pic to Visit my author page

Welcome UK and Worldwide Visitors

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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