Basics Of Search And Rescue Dog Training


Historically dogs have been used by men in a variety of roles. The primitive man considered the canine valuable to his own well-being in terms of subsistence gathering (as a hunter) and survival (alertness and protection from danger). Special breeding developed dogs that were adapted to their particular tasks. These included large working breeds for pulling carts, hunting dogs, herding dogs, barkless dogs for silent approach, and a multitude of other traits that allowed canines to excel in a given field. Man, for centuries, has perceived the diverse roles that dogs can perform.

          The traditional dog for Search and Rescue is the trailing or tracking dog trained to follow the missing person by scenting on or near the footsteps. Although many breeds are used, dogs from the hound group are the most prevalent and most successful trackers. In the past two decades the searching dog, trained to search the air currents for human scent, has grown in popularity. Again, several breeds were considered, but the Bloodhound and nowadays the Beagle are being predominantly used and established as especially suitable breeds.

          The single common ingredient of every SAR mission is a human being. It is therefore important to understand how basic body function is the link between SAR dogs and the subject of the search. The human body gives off a constant stream of scent, very much like a smoke grenade. The human body is comprised of nearly 60 trillion cells. It is constantly replacing and discarding cells, at a rate of nearly 50 million cells per day. Skin surface alone has some 2 billion cells, of which 40,000 cells are being shed each minute. These cells are shed from the body. carry along bacteria and a layer of body secretions, both very important ingredients of scent. The growth of bacteria on the cells produces a vapor that is the detectable odor of human scent. The bacteria count can approach 200,000 bacteria per square centimeter of skin. While these figures may appear ponderous, they are mentioned here to dramatize to what extent the scent is being transmitted to the environment..

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