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Canine Search and Rescue Finding a K9 that works for a living saving lives!

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Presentation on theme: "Canine Search and Rescue Finding a K9 that works for a living saving lives!"— Presentation transcript:

1 Canine Search and Rescue Finding a K9 that works for a living saving lives!

2 Before Starting Before you can evaluate you need to understand Dog may have evolved from wolves but they are not wolves They can not survive without humans We have bred the skills and instincts out of them so that they will be able to perform a specific task or serve a function such as being a companion

3 Before Starting A labrador can not kill the duck but it’s function is to bring it back to the human A border collie herds the sheep but has been bred not to kill the sheep The chihuahua is a companion but would be considered prey in the wilderness

4 Before Starting What we are going to be looking for is a dog with strong primitive instincts (drive) that bring us back to the days when the dog was closer to the wolf. The primitive instincts are what would have allowed it to survive in the wild.

5 Before Starting When it is all boiled down to the very essence what are we asking the dog to do when we are asking it to do Search and Rescue?

6 Before Starting We are asking the dog to hunt for the prey i.e. We are asking the dog to find the subject We are asking the dog to let the rest of the pack know (we constitute the rest of the dogs pack) i.e. perform a final response We are asking the dog to kill the prey i.e. receive the reward system (this varies for different dogs, but play tug would be an example)

7 Before Starting So if the dog doesn’t have strong instincts/drive then it will not be able to survive on it’s own i.e. the will not be able to find the subject reliably when we need it to

8 Team Training Officers If you do not have a evaluation process in place for your prospective handlers and their K9 partners GET ONE! Get it in writing and stick to it!

9 Team Training Officers It is better for the team as a whole to deal with the situation of an unsuitable k9 before they even start training. It never easy but it has to be done! A problem that is ignored doesn’t go away!

10 The Process We used FEMA CSST program for a baseline for this presentation – They had some good slide! But there are other evaluating methods with other specific tests and criteria that are just as good!

11 Good screening eliminates the mediocre dog Always re-fixing the same problems Trainers are working harder than the dog Does not want to do the job

12 We have NO RIGHT to train a dog unsuitable for a job that can result in a person’s life and death!

13 Screening does not guarantee success! It selects canine candidates most likely to succeed in the least amount of time with a regimented training program and dedicated handler

14 Drive K9’s inherited behaviors - relating back to survival skills Hunt – Find the prey Prey/Retrieve – Catch the prey Tug/Fight – kill the prey Toy/Possession – having the prey so it can be consumed

15 Drive What stimulates this drives? Hunt – the nose, smelling the prey Prey/Retrieve – the eyes, seeing it run Tug/Fight – biting and pulling, catching and kill the prey Toy/Possession – the mouth, chewing and pulling it apart, eating the prey

16 What drive do we want in our search dog? Hunt – definitely, the nose is what we have the dog for, they can smell better then we can Prey/Retrieve – great for using a reward system! But our subject are seldom running away from us!

17 What drive do we want in our search dog? Tug/Fight – great for using a reward system! But we don’t want the dogs biting the subjects! Toy/Possession – great for using a reward system! But we don’t want the dogs chewing or ripping apart our subjects

18 What drive do we want in our search dog? A combination of drives works best! A strong hunt drive is best when combined with another drive that can be used as part of reward system!

19 What drive do we want in our search dog? The dog has to want to and have the skills to find the subject! The dog has to want the reward enough to keep on working for it!

20 Why we need to evaluate the potential of the dog Select a canine candidate –Which will train to the operational level in least amount of time –With highest likelihood of success Don’t waste our time & money on a dog that will never be reliable!

21 Rationale for Selection Process Improves Certification Evaluation success rate Reduces training time Gives objective basis for selecting or rejecting a canine candidate Aids in maintaining a viable canine element at all times

22 Puppy Versus Young Adult

23 Puppy — Pros More options on breed, sex of dog if choosing from a litter Control of early training – dog starts training already trained in the basics!

24 Puppy — Pros Early exposure to unusual environments – this is an issue with older dogs sometimes Socialization – you control it so the dog will only have positive experiences

25 Puppy — Pros Drive and reward building – but this is strongly a product of genetics so even a dog can develop these quickly

26 Puppy — Cons Low prediction of success based on puppy tests – The drive just might not be there! Intensive training delayed until puppy is 6 to 12 months old – you now have year of time, money and emotion invested in a puppy that isn’t up the job!

27 Puppy — Cons Will take longer to train – you already have a year invested and you haven’t even started! Physical and temperamental problems may develop as puppy matures – Some problems are genetic and no matter what you do you are going to have these problems!

28 Other then just evaluating at the Puppy Look at success and quality of both parents Look at the success and quality of previous same parent litters

29 Young Adult — Pros What you see, is what you get High prediction of success Reduced training time Can screen for physical problems

30 Young Adult — Cons Limited selection of qualified dogs and those available are expensive!

31 Young Adult — Cons But when you add it up the overall cost of raising a puppy for a year, the time you spend in training, medical expenses, etc. it really is a not more expensive but the initial cost up front can be prohibitive.

32 Young Adult — Cons Dog should be at least 12 months old and less then 3 years old Unknown early socialization and exposure May not have access to dog’s genetic history (pedigree) if wanting to breed dog

33 Breed Selection

34 Standardized screening will select best candidate of any breed or mixed breed dog

35 Screening and Selection Process

36 Screening Process Dog is at least 12 months old In good physical condition Performed in an unfamiliar area

37 Selection Process Components Drive Nerve strength Sociability Physical screening

38 Drive Innate impulse that prompts a canine into action The more instinctive, the more reliable Desire for the reward

39 Measuring Drive Play drive and toy possession Prey drive Hunt drive

40 Play Drive and Toy Possession Test Play with any reward and with any person Initially plays with handler and familiar toy Plays with handler with unfamiliar toys Plays with unfamiliar person with favorite and unknown toys One minute observation of dog with toy

41 Select canine that Plays vigorously with toys Maintains focus on toys Presents toy to play or self- plays with toy

42 Prey Drive Test Assesses desire to pursue and capture prey Repeated ‘retrieve’, toy is thrown 10 times Dog is released after toy stops moving Dog must hold toy until return to handler May be lured back to handler

43 Select canine that Runs to toy Carries toy or returns with toy to handler Stays focused on toy, not distracted by environment Maintains or increases enthusiasm with each throw

44 Hunt Drive Test Assesses dog’s willingness to search for non-visible toy Performed in the type of environment where you want the dog to search

45 Hunt Drive Test Handler holds dog while helper throws toy Process is repeated and dog is released after varying delay times, from no delay to 1 minute Start point is relocated at least one time

46 Select canine that Runs up on and navigates rubble with little or no hesitation Hunts out of sight of handler for at least 1 minute on at least one hunt test Will run directly on rubble from any start point Maintains focus on search Holds toy until returns to handler

47 Nerve Strength Emotional stability in uncomfortable and unfamiliar environment

48 Surface and Sound Sensitivity Unstable Rough Slick Lights/sirens Loud noises

49 Confined Space Dark Lighted

50 Nerve Strength Test Helper works dog with handler nearby Each test is performed twice to measure recovery and reaction

51 Select canines that Demonstrate no anxiety on each element May show some mild anxiety on first experience but recover and show none on second pass

52 Sociability Comfort around dogs and people Critical for dog’s ability to cope with the pressures of deployment “A Friend in Need” by Cassius M. Coolidge circa 1870

53 Sociability Test Around people –1 minute tie out with person walking by –Stranger retrieves dog Around dogs –Person and handler walks by

54 Select canines that Attempt to greet or ignore stranger and canine

55 Physical Screening Screen for –Hips –Elbows –Other breed specific issues (such as cataracts in Labradors)

56 Other Screening Considerations Trainability of dog –Focus on handler –Makes eye contact –Reacts to handler commands

57 Specific Screening Tool Disaster Canine Qualification Screening –Developed by D. Brownell, M. Marsolais, and P. Kaynaroglu –Successfully used by many federal and state US&R teams –Available on Disasterdog website (

58 Other suggestions Stick to breeds or mixes of breeds that are already successful Stick to breeders that have a proven history of success and know what to look for in a SAR dog Have somebody else do the evaluation for you – especially first time handlers!

59 Other suggestions Take your time and look at a number of dogs. Don’t be afraid to walk away if it doesn’t feel right. All puppies are cute, don’t take one home because you let your emotions make your decision You are going to spend thousands of dollars and countless hours, make sure you are investing in the right dog!

60 We want The dogs that most people hate as pets.

61 Don’t believe it There is absolutely no reason to have a dog that is your “training dog” or a dog that is the one you learn how to train your next dog on! This is an excuse for continuing with the wrong dog or poor mentoring from the senior handler you are learning from!

62 Acceptable Excuses for the rest of the day! My dog is not capable of doing this because he is not a good candidate for being a SAR dog I am an idiot and I messed it up. I do not understand what I am suppose to be teaching my dog.

63 Rest of the Day What skill level are the participants? Beginner? Intermediate? Certified? Trained in other disciplines? Particular problems that participants are looking for help with?

64 Apologize Up Front Participants out number the instructor so one on one help will be limited There is a variety of skill levels here so some of this maybe too simple for some people and other parts too advanced. We will try to answer all the questions you have in class so everybody can share but you can also ask after the class is over.

65 Next class, you will need Your dog Your dog’s reward system A way to restrain your dog (crate, leave in car, tie down) Water ?

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