Is my puppy right for Wilderness Search and Rescue?
- Loves people and likes to play with them
- Likes to play fetch or tug
- Is young (it can take an average of 2 years to train an SAR dog. A 7 year old dog may have to retire soon after being certified.)
- Is extremely physically fit and has excellent endurance
- Is of a breed appropriate for the work. These are typically “working dogs” such as German Shepherds, Labradors, Belgian malinois, and Golden Retrievers. Although other similar medium to large breeds are sometimes used.
- Is easily trained. (Dogs who habitually have more interest in the gross smell in the corner rather than the treat in your hand, aka selective hearing, need not apply)
How a puppy plays with a stranger is one of the key tests in evaluating a good search dog. What does good play look like? Here is a video of a puppy we just met yesterday. See how happily she plays with a complete stranger in a place she has never been before. This is an example of a great prospect.
For more information on Search and Rescue Dogs:
Read, Search and Rescue Dogs: Training the K-9 Hero by ARDA
Building a Basic Foundation for Search and Rescue Dog Training by JC Judah