The hardest lesson…

Posted: February 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

It's all about PATIENCE!

Several of you have messaged me with questions about how to get your puppy started training for Search & rescue work…Which thrills me to no end! Most of the requesters have puppies from 8 to 15 MONTHS of age, and they have an air of “Oh no! it’s too late for my puppy to start!!” Please, please understand, the HARDEST lesson we have is to be PATIENT! Most training programs for S & R don’t even allow dogs under 1 year old. I told that to an enthusiastic person familiar with Omorrow, and with myself and my pup Hans. She said, “But you and Hans started when he was 3 months old!” But thats not accurate…I AM IN TRAINING, and my puppy is accompanying me and helping to train ME! Hans REAL-WORLD training will start at about 1 year of age, as is generally recommended. The advice I have been given and will pass on here is this: For the first year, SOCIALIZE your pup with people, dogs, cats, wherever you can find them! Train your puppy in BASIC obedience to a high degree of immediate response, with a knowledgeable Trainer. IT WILL COST YOU A BIT OF MONEY, but it is essential for your dogs development! PLAY WITH YOUR PUPPY EVERYDAY!!!! A pups playdrive is all-important! Get him a ball, teach him to fetch…teach him to swim…play hide and seek with his toys, BUILD A BOND WITH YOUR PUPPY!!! One day, he will look you straight in the eye, and you will FEEL his attachment to you…Scritch him between the ears when this happens, because that means the world to him (or her). Allow him his puppyhood…
As for you as the Handler? You have alot of work to do on yourself! Read books, meet other Handlers/Trainers, Join Groups like the National Association of Search and Rescue of America and Search & Rescue Dogs Association. They have many seminars and materials to help train YOU! I’ll get more in depth about these organizationsin the coming weeks. And I’ll gladly help anyone here as Hans and I make mistakes and progress ourselves. Thats really my main ambition…
Give your puppy time to develop into what you want him to be…But be forewarned. Most dogs don’t make it to certification or ever get “sent into the field”. Thats Okay too…That dog is a beautiful furry soul that would give his life for you and your family members without hesitation. Cherish him or her.

Tracking is a satisfying job for you AND your dog!

  1. Melissa Kelley says:

    Thank you for this piece. I have been agonzing over whether it was too late for my boy, Bodie.( He is 18 months. ) I am enrolling him in a nosework class in the fall , and cant wait to start him. He does have double dysplastic hips, but doest seem to be in pain , and he NEEDS to do some kind of work, but didnt know what would be good for him with his physical limitations. I hope that the nosework will be something that he is truly interested in . Time will tell……..

  2. Robert says:

    I’ll be happy to help you out in anyway I can Bertha…Thank you for reading!!!

  3. Bertha Maglott says:

    Thank you for this well written piece. this already answers some of my questions about SAR dog training. My husband Ed may be interested in pursuing this path related to his fire & rescue and law enforcement background. We are so excited to be getting our puppy and I have been watching your posts. As a result I am learning more all the time.