Rescue dog training, also known as search and rescue training, is a very specific type of performance based aptitude that is not right for every type of dog. Some dogs are simply not put together to be a rescue training dog. There are countless factors that go into what makes a good rescue dog, but many of them are common to certain breeds. German Shepherds and Labs are popular in these circles because they inherently have many of the things that trainers look for. Other breeds can certainly do the job, but these two are probably the most common. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if your dog would make a good rescue dog.
Rescue Dog Training: Is Your Dog a Fit?
Are they easily distracted?
Dogs that are easily distracted are not going to do well in rescue dog training. They will need to be razor sharp in their focus on a task and dogs that will become distracted will not be successful. Dogs that respond to every stimulus and then move on will often be too all over the place to do this type of work.
Are they good at zeroing in on a task?
For example, when you play with your dog do they stop in the middle of it and want to do something else? Or do they continue to play ball and catch for hours until you finally give out. The dog that will play the same thing endlessly without losing focus will be a great rescue dog in most situations. That type of single minded focus is what is looked for.
Is your dog easily scared or startled?
A dog can be made aware without being scared. For example, if you drop a shoe right next to them and they jump up, notice the shoe and give it a sniff and then move on, that is good. If you drop the shoe and they yelp and run off to another room, that is bad. If you drop the shoe and they bark and bite the shoe, that is the worst.
Does your dog have a good play drive?
To say that rescue dog training requires energy and drive is an understatement. You have to constantly be on the move and your dog has to be in the best of shape. Most of all, they have to be tireless in their pursuit of what is being searched for. Does your dog like to play for extremely long periods? Does he seem to never get tired and want to continue to play long after you are beat? If so, he might be a good rescue dog training candidate.
Is your dog highly trainable?
Before you even think about considering your dog for advanced training, you should be sure that they are easily trainable. Did they pick up the basics of training for you rather quickly? Do they know the basic commands? If not, then chances are you need to look into things a little bit more. Rescue dogs have to learn quickly and efficiently. They are extremely smart and intelligent dogs so make sure your dog fits the bill before enrolling.
If you think your dog is a good fit for rescue dog training, contact local search and rescue groups near you to find out how to get started.