Person search is both a good and fun activity training for your dog. During the search, the dog must find and mark people who are more or less hidden in the terrain.
How do I and my dog start person search?
It is best to sign up for a course, we have collaboration with the Swedish Dog Club, SHK, in Södertälje and the instructor Britty Andersson, as we have arranged a course for podengo Friends members. That’s why we describe SHK’s courses here. Britty has also brought the instructor Carina Ahlin.
How to teach the dog to search for people?
You can do this in a different ways. Sometimes you need to start by teaching the dog to carry things in his mouth because it is one of the ways the dog marks when it has found the figurant. You also need to be several persons who are helping you to be figurants and hide themselves in the terrain.
During the beginner course, you go through how the search functions, what a search area is, the driver’s role during the search, marking of the search area, the figurant’s role, reward, etc. You teach the dog to mark by sitting still and barking when it has found the figurant, or by taking a marking roller that hangs in the collar and carrying it in its mouth back to its handler.
Are there different levels of search courses?
There are 3 levels; Beginners, continuation and advanced cours. The beginner course is suitable, for example, for you who want to apply for ID with your dog as an everyday training.
Can all dogs participate in person search?
As long as they can get through in difficult and inaccessible terrain, which the very youngest may have difficulty with, all dogs can participate in the course.
Does the dog have to be able to be loose in order to take the course?
During a person search, the dog seeks loose, you must also be able to keep it loose during a test. But for a beginner’s course, SHK has a large fence to train in, and you can have a leash on the dog when you search in the forest.
Can you compete or take tests in paging?
Yes, you can do tests in paging. The dog must be at least 8 months old and the driver at least 12 years old. In person search, the crew is tested in test form and receives a passing or failing grade and then in several classes: Start, Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold.
For those who aim for a championship together with the Swedish Dog Club, it is required that the dog is registered in SHK, that it has approved results in gold class and received the assessment Very good at SHK show. Rules for tests can be found on the Swedish Dog Club’s website.
What equipment do I need to start with?
For the beginner course, you need a necklace (a solid necklace) and / or harness as well as a rope / leash without a loop, which is a maximum of 5 meters long. The dog must also have a service mark on it, which means that the dog is on duty when it applies. It is a small blanket marked SHK, which you can borrow during the course, but for exams you must have your own.
If you want to do a test, you should also have a search roller that you train the dog to retrieve to then be able to pick up at the figurant, it is a must on the test.
Is there any book I can read about person search?
The Swedish Dog Club trains based on the book Sök- & Räddningshunden (Search & Rescue Dog) by Anita Leander Mellin. The book can be purchased from SHK.
Judgment from some of the participants
In the course evaluation afterwards, we could read that the course leaders were nice and pedagogical, that it was fun with the search exercises, difficult retrieval, a little mixed level of prior knowledge in the group, etc, and that most of the participants could recommend others to take the course.
How did it work to have podengos loose on the course?
Britty and Carina, the instructors at SHK Södertälje, were warned that it could be tricky to have podengos loose because of their hunting instinct. This is how they tell about how they experienced having a course for podengos, a new breed for them:
We have had the honor of having five different podengo dogs with owners on a course in paging at SHK in Södertälje.
It started with a request from my friend Lena Lundin, who is an instructor and judge in blood track, if I could imagine holding a course in person search for podengos. I was told that most large and some small podengos can be difficult to have loose in the forest, that they can ignore their job due to too much hunting instinct, and then do not listen. The breed is known to be difficult to keep loose, especially the larger sizes, but some succeed with the dogs of the smaller size.
I brought Carina as co-instructor as it makes it easier to be more instructors who can give tips and advice to the the participants. We therefore started by training to call in and retrieval in a fenced area at the dog club. Then we went out into the forest and had a long line on those who felt like they did not want to come back when being called in. Most of them, however, were very good at getting back to their handler, so the fifth time we left the fence completely and went out into the forest.
The sixth and last time of the course, all the dogs were loose in the forest during the search and in the retrieval exercise and came directly back to their owners. The search conditions also went well. The dogs have been allowed to search independently for figurants in the forest and fetch if they can, and then called back to their driver who then connected them and made a demonstration to the figurant where rewards in the form of play and sweets was given. The dogs have handled their task very well and have not run offfrom the selected search box. We have had a very positive experience with a new breed for us and their owners.
Britty Andersson and Carina Ahlin
Instructors in Person search at SHK Södertälje