papa bear on rubble pile

As we shared in our last Search & Rescue blog, all of the WDC puppies get SAR foundation training.

However, not all of our dogs will go on to make search and rescue their career.

So why do we do this? What’s so important that all we include it in all of our dogs’ Puppy Foundation Training?

Here at the WDC, some of our dogs will graduate and be medical detection dogs (that’s our Diabetes Alert and Ovarian Cancer Detection dog programs). We’ll also train dogs to detect explosives, narcotics, and human remains. In all of these fields, it is very important for our dogs to have a strong desire to hunt and use their nose. The search and rescue training provides an excellent foundation for these skills and serves as a baseline to help us determine which job would best suit the individual dog’s natural talents and abilities.

In addition to using search and rescue as foundation training for dogs in other fields, SAR itself can be split into two main categories based on the environment where the dog works: urban and wilderness. In urban searches, a dog must comb through the rubble of collapsed buildings to find the missing person. Urban searches are often the result of natural disasters including hurricanes or tornadoes, but can also be man-made, as was the case with the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9/11. Wilderness search dogs often work in parks, forests, and surrounding neighborhoods. Unlike urban searches where the missing person is trapped under the rubble and debris, wilderness searches are often locating missing hikers or children who wondered off and have gotten lost.

While their work environment may differ, both types of search dogs rely heavily on their ability to use their nose and hunt while staying focused on their task without distraction. This strong work ethic is required in all detection dog disciplines and is the reason all of our dogs receive foundation training in search and rescue.

Make sure to check in for more Search & Rescue blog posts!