Is my puppy right for Wilderness Search and Rescue?

Nearly every pet dog is skilled at finding his owner and your basset hound might follow his nose to the ends of the earth. However, there are many things that make a dog a good wilderness search dog.puppy

  • Loves people and likes to play with them
  • Confident
  • Likes to play fetch or tug
  • Curious
  • 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:

National Association for Search and Rescue: Dog Fact Sheet

American Rescue Dog Association Page

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

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