I’m asked a lot by dog owners whether their dog could be a search dog. Many times they seem genuinely interested in the process, until they learn the training requires about 300 hours per year for two years to get that first dog mission-ready.
The American Kennel Club has an outstanding option for those whose dog needs a job, or in this case, a hobby. K9 Scent work (sometimes called Nosework) is an AKC competitive dog sport that very closely replicates the world of cadaver dogs (or drug or bomb dogs). Instead of finding dead humans, the dogs are trained to find the odors of three different essential oils.
Here’s a link to the AKC page on Scent Work https://www.akc.org/sports/akc-scent-work/.
You can also find instructors in your area by Googling “Scent Work” or “Nosework.”
Can your dog do this? Of course. Some of the pug-nosed dogs might struggle, but pretty much every other breed can handle this. Some individual dogs won’t enjoy the game, just like some people don’t like tennis or Monopoly.
So get out there and have a good time with your dog, and Stay Found!
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There are lots of good reasons to avoid leaving your dog in your car, but there are lots of good reasons why it happens. In SAR, we get our dogs used to being in the car because we might be given a task that doesn’t require the use of a dog. For example, helping to carry an injured subject out of the woods is an all-hands drill, but you don’t want a dog running around underfoot.
So if your dog is going to be in the car for an extended period, it’ll need potty breaks. Will you be around to do that?
Some dogs consider a car their “territory” and will defend it even if they’d welcome burglars into the family home. If yours is one of those dogs you should desensitize it to having strangers get it in and out of the car.
Start out by having a friend with whom the dog is familiar get it in and out, with you present. Have them (not you!) provide lots of treats as they go. Then move up to a stranger, but again with you present. Finally, have a stranger go up to the car with you nearby but out of sight.
If your dog just won’t accept a potty break from a stranger, that’s OK. At least you know. And if it will, all the better. It’ll put your mind at ease in situations where you might have some bigger issue going on.
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