Training CaNine to Five (and quite often until a lot later!)

When dogs help us to search for missing people the standard is for one Dog, one Handler plus one Support member to go out as a team (two Support members are used if a trailing dog is searching in an urban area, to allow one person to focus exclusively on traffic and keep everybody safe). The Dog does its job, the Handler focuses on the Dog and interprets its body language so that we know when the dog has picked up a scent and is working it, whether trailing or air scenting. Everything else is done by the Support member: Communicating with base, via radio; navigation and (should it be needed) 1st aid. It’s a big role and we are lucky to have dedicated people who are prepared to take it on.

This month, three of our four handlers took a course in K9 1st aid. Alongside us were other team members (Supports) plus two guest Handlers. Gaining an additional qualification in K9 1st aid shows the high regard our Support members have for our dogs. Thanks guys. You are wonderful and you know how much we value you.

It was an enjoyable course with plenty of hands on experience, practical assessments and a written test. I’m happy to tell you that we all passed.

How did you enjoy the warm, sunny bank holiday weather early in the month? Trip to the seaside? Barbecues in the garden? Picnics in the park?

Sue and I attended a three day trailing workshop with Jeff Schettler, a respected dog handler from the US, and his associate, Alis Dobler. The workshop was organised by Astrid Lowe of Enjoy Your Dog. We both learned loads. The dogs found it very difficult to pick up scent in the hot conditions as UV light in sunshine destroys scent. So, we learned how to help them find productive scent sources in scraps of vegetation, along the edges of buildings and kerbs and any surface the trail layer had touched. We also learned that we both need to use longer lines in order to let the dogs discover the trail without putting pressure on them. Of course the lines can be shortened for safety.

Added to our wish list are 10m tracking/trailing lines, a new harness for V like the one she’s modelling in the photos, gel-filled cool mats and aluminium sheets to cover our cars and help us keep our dogs cool whilst they wait their turn for training. If you wish to contribute towards these purchases please use the ‘donate’ button on our home page.

NOTE: Our dogs are NEVER left unsupervised in cars. We always have someone present, supervising the dogs, checking they have sufficient ventilation and water, and prepared to remove them from the vehicle should it become necessary. Dogs die in hot cars.

Sue and V also attended another 3 day trailing workshop over the last bank holiday. Is she dedicated, or what?

The photos of V were taken by Steve Jarrett (

If you want to meet some of our team, we will be at The Dogs Trust Open Day, Hatton World, CV35 8XA on Sunday 10th June 2018 and Stratford Racecourse, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 9SE on Tuesday 19th June 2018. We would love you to come and say Hello, and maybe put a coin or two into our bucket!

Blog Author: Donna – Search Dog Lead for Warwickshire Search & Rescue.