Don’t work a dog? Skilled back-up personnel are essential to maintaining a K9s safety while working.
This class includes a combination of lecture and hands on experience.
Register now, space is limited!]]>
Starts Sept. 8
$150/6 week session
Click HERE to learn more and register.
Starts Sept. 10
$100/4 week session
Click HERE to learn more and register.
Date: October 10, 2014
Time: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Location: Penn Vet Working Dog Center
Far too often officers are thrown together with minimal experience working with one another when the suspect clearly holds the advantage. In response, participants will be provided techniques critical to a high risk K9 deployment. The participants will have the opportunity to apply these techniques in practical scenarios.
Scenarios will combine factors including weather, terrain, communication, and decision making. K9 officers are urged to bring back-up officers from their department and neighboring departments that they often must rely on.
This training will also offer officers the opportunity to learn tactical veterinary concerns and practices as they relate to the real-world scenarios.
Download information flyer HERE.
Check out other classes at the WDC including
Puppy Socialization – starts Monday, September 8th
Basic Obedience – starts Wednesday, September 10th
Help raise money for the WDC and cheer on Pacy as she throws the first pitch!
Bring the whole family, including the furry 4-legged members, out to watch the Camden Riversharks face off against the York Revolution.]]>
Building searches provide different scenting conditions then what the dogs encounter on the rubble pile.
We expose our dogs to both types of searches to make sure they are prepared for any situation they may encounter in their career. The building we use is four stories tall which allows us to simulate single-story or multi-story search scenarios. Before the dog enters the building to search, we have a person hide in one of the rooms, somewhere in the building.
As the dog become more skilled in buildings searches, we increase the difficulty by adding more than one hidden person and making the person(s) more concealed. In the most advanced training scenarios, the handler is not told how many people are hiding, or where they are. This allows the dog and handler to simulate a real-world deployment and learn to work together to find the missing person(s).
We also use our building search scenarios to introduce the article search. Some of our puppies, including our dogs going into law enforcement, will have careers that require them to perform article searches as part of their job.
Another difference between the rubble searches and building searches is the type of distractions that the dog encounters. While on the rubble pile, there are often numerous spectators, including a few onlookers from the neighboring walking path. In the buildings however, the dog is often more isolated while they are searching. Buildings however, offer their own unique set of distractions. This includes closed circulation systems which move the scent of the hidden person around differently than in the open air of the rubble pile.
Stay tuned for future installments of our Search & Rescue blog to learn more about these talented dogs and their training.
Photo: John Donges, Penn Vet
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!
But this is the Working Dog Center, after all. In the fall, we’ll be bringing these nine pups into our Puppy Foundation Training Program.
In the interim, two of our college interns, Meghan Ramos and Patrick Robbins, have been doing some very specific exercises and tests with them.
We have been using the Customs & Border Protection Canine Breeding Program Detection Infant Puppy Testing Schedule, shared with us by Matt Devaney, Research & Development Coordinator for CBP. Assessment testing is done twice a week.This is a series of exercises that are designed to determine the level of drive and confidence the puppies have in certain areas relevant to their future working careers
The other exercise is a little more self-explanatory. It’s called Early Scent Stimulation, and it involves introducing scents to the puppies early in life. This is a tool introduced at the 2013 Penn Vet Working Dog Conference by Gayle Watkins. Every day, they are exposed to a variety of odors; the goal being that their sense of smell as adults will be more advanced if their neonatal growth is filled with different smells. This exercise involves 12 scents that each puppy smells for 5 seconds at a time. Thus, it lasts for just one minute, once a day. The odors our puppies are being introduced to include: low blood sugar saliva sample, human remains, black powder, narcotics, tennis ball, dirt, grass, lemon, pepper, apple, and orange.
Here’s a short video to give you a peek inside the testing process—
Keep checking back as we will be providing more updates on our puppies.
NOTE: The 2013 Penn Vet Working Dog Conference, including Gayle Watkins’s DVD, is available for sale HERE. Or purchase immediate streaming access using Tawzer Dog’s Video on Demand HERE.]]>
As soon as the puppies arrive, they are introduced to tug toys. We play lots of fun games with them to build their excitement for tugging.
Our goal is to build their prey and hunt drives, which are useful as we teach future skills.
We build their prey drive by moving the toy around and allowing them to chase and catch the toy, which simulates their natural predatory behaviors. We build their hunt drive by playing fun games of “hide and seek” which end in the dog finding their toy or their person and getting to play.
As their drives develop, we begin the introductory phase of Search & Rescue training. While the puppy is held by a handler, they watch as a person runs around a corner while holding their toy. The dog is then released to go find the person and play tug with their favorite toy. At this point, the dog is primarily using its eyesight to make the find.
The next step is to have a person run away from the puppy and hide behind a desk, or in a similar hiding space. This lets the dog use its sight, while they also begin to use their sense of smell to find the person and get the play reward. This changes however, when we graduate to the next step where we do not allow the dog to see the person hide. This makes them rely on their hunt drive and keen sense of smell to find the hider and their toy.
Once the dog is excelling at this level, we increase the difficulty again by adding the distraction of crowds of people. On the rubble pile, they must focus on finding the hidden person while tuning out distractions including spectators and loud noises. We intentionally have crowds of people nearby so that the dog can learn to work through these types of distractions which will be common in the environments they will work in.
The searches on the rubble pile get more complex over time and the dogs also learn to search in buildings, a process we start teaching in an abandoned building in our complex. We’ll talk more about building searches at a later date, so stay tuned for the next installation in our Search & Rescue dog series!
Click HERE to read our blog about how Dr. Otto was inspired to spend her career helping Search & Rescue dogs.
Heather’s love of dogs began at an early age, and she began handling the Bullmastiffs her family bred for show and. As an adult, she became more involved in dog training and became a student at WonderDogs in 2000, where she taught for several years, specializing in the Puppy Head Start program. In addition to dog training, Heather launched a line of fine jewelry in 2010 called BirthPaws.
Heather discovered a posting for a job at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center after its opening in 2012 and was hired in March 2013 as a part-time trainer.
Heather’s canine companions have included a Golden Retriever, Rusty, and a Jack Russell Terrier, Sparkle, who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Her canine family currently consists of 6 Jack Russell Terriers, Jack, Pearl, Fios, Starr, Iris, and Ziggy, with whom she trains and competes in various dog sports, including flyball, Jack Russell racing, lure coursing, Earthdog, and conformation.]]>