Search dog training in lockdown

We’ve been in lockdown for over a month now and, like most people, we’re learning how to live with it. Thankfully, we’re allowed out once a day for exercise, which means that we get to give the dogs a good run around in the fields near our house. I take them in the morning and Natalie takes them in the evening, so we both get some time (a) playing with the dogs and (b) out in the fresh air.

When it comes to Ozzy’s search dog training, though, we’ve had to make few changes. Clearly, doing our usual training with friends hiding from Ozzy in the woods and other public areas would probably be frowned upon in the current circumstances. So instead of looking for people, I’ve got Ozzy searching for the residual scent on things I’ve dug out of the laundry basket. It’s human scent, after all… Continue reading

Trust your dog

We had a great search dog training session with Ozzy at the weekend. She’s picked up the ‘mechanics’ of the search, so we’re gradually increasing the size of the area to be searched and the time it takes her to locate the person who has kindly agreed to hide from her. It’s great to see her in action. But also a little bit terrifying. Continue reading

Everything travels down the lead

There’s a saying among dog trainers and handlers: Everything travels down the lead. Because working with a dog is about much more than the commands that we give them. It’s about the way in which we give them. About our tone of voice. Our body language. Even the mood we’re in. To work effectively with a dog, we need to be in the right frame of mind. And we need to put everything else aside. Continue reading

The control subject

While we had Molly out with us for Ozzy’s training yesterday, we decided to do a bit of an experiment. After we’d finished Ozzy’s searches, Ozzy and I wandered off to hide in a pre-agreed area and Natalie unleashed Molly to come and look for us. Would she find us? Would she find us before it got dark? Would an untrained but energetic and highly enthusiastic Labrador be able to do what Ozzy (with all of her three months of training so far) does seemingly without a second thought? Or would it all go terribly wrong? Continue reading