Introduction to Search and Rescue Dog Training
Have you ever heard of man trailing?
This fun and active dog sport came to us from Europe. It is similar to the training that Search and Rescue dogs complete: We teach our dog to find hidden people by their scent.
We currently are the only dog training company in Albuquerque offering man trailing! If you like the outdoors and like to learn new skills together with your dog, this might just be the sport for you.
Which Dogs Can Learn Man Trailing?
Man trailing is an activity that is suitable for all ages and breeds of dogs.
Since it is a low-impact sport even young puppies can start to learn man trailing. There is no jumping, running or tight turning involved.
Instead, the dogs move relatively slowly – after all, they need to sniff as they are going along and make sure to follow the scent they are taking in.
It is not required that your dog completed obedience training before joining a man trailing class. Of course it will be helpful is he has already learned to pay attention to you around other dogs and people and to train together with you.
But even if you have not yet started to train with him, he can still learn to be a tracking dog!
One big necessity is that your dog is reasonably calm around other dogs and absolutely not reactive to people.
Since it will be his task to find hidden people, we cannot have him be stressed or uncomfortable around persons that he does not know. He will not be able to enjoy himself if he is worried about the person he is trying to find.
If your dog is struggling with reactivity towards humans, we can address this in a private training session first.
Which Equipment Is Needed For Man Trailing?
A Long Leash
This is not a walk “with” your dog, it is the scenting dog working and you just hanging on so they don’t get lost. Therefore we do not want to use a regular 6ft leash. These are too short and will be very inconvenient when your dog is guiding you around bushes and through the forest. In the above video you can see how useful it is to have a long leash.
I recommend that your leash is at least 20ft. A flexi leash does not work, it needs to be a long line type of leash.
If you are interested in a no-tangle one, we sell Biothane leashes in a variety of colors. They are a leather-like material that does not get dirty or knot.
Our dogs will navigate through bushes, around trees etc. If the leash gets caught in something we do absolutely not want to hurt their neck. Not having the leash attached to a collar will also help your dog to distinguish between loose leash walking during which he is not allowed to wander off by himself, and man trailing during which he is supposed to follow his nose and guide us!
If you use the harness consistently, putting it on will become a cue for your dog to go and look for the hidden people.
We will all take turns hiding for the dogs, so do not wear your best clothes. They might get dusty or muddy. Also make sure to always bring a little item that we use to let the dogs take in your scent when it is your turn to hide. You will hand it to one of the other dog handlers before you go to your hidden location.
Gloves, hats, scarves etc. work well for this.