The quality of the dog describes the essential nature of dogs, the characteristics of a dog is used here to describe the dog’s traits, which may vary according to the particular dog. The dog’s breed, early socialization, responsiveness and reliability and love of work are characteristics that all contribute to make a good search dog.
- Breeds. Search and rescue dogs most commonly come from the herding, hunting, or working breeds or from mixed breeds with the characteristics of these groups in their bloodlines. The dog adult size and weight needs to be appropriate for the situations in which it is expected to work. In addition, dogs from these breed groups are generally predispose to working with people. This is important because the dog works directly with the handler, but also works hard to find strangers. Finally, when selecting a breed for search and rescue, a handler must be aware if his preferences. Compatibility is the key with close partnership, and handler should select a breed in which he can work well.
- Socialization. In addition to the stable temperament already mentioned, a search dog must be very well socialized. The dog will spend all of its working life among people, both familiar and unknown, so socialization must be a priority. Socializing a puppy can include taking it into stores where dogs are allowed, to playgrounds, parks, airports, dog shows, mall and other public places where the puppy can have safe contact with many people and dogs. It’s vital to give the dog in training a great deal of contact with children and other animals while maintaining its sense of security.
- Responsiveness and Reliability. Search dogs must be responsive to their handlers. When dogs are responsive to their handlers, they are reliable partners. Reliability means the behavior of the dog is consistent with the handler’s expectations in any situation. For example, people are often reported missing during bad weather, so it’s not unusual for a dog team to work during thunder and lightning storms. Under such conditions, the dog needs to stay calm. Listen to and remain with the handler, and go back to work after the storm passes. It’s important to train under diverse condition so that the dog team can learn to work efficiently in any unusual conditions.
- Love of Work. One reason a good search dog continues to work under stress is that, quite simply, the dog loves to work. Anyone who has an opportunity to watch a search dog do what it’s trained to do immediately impress by the dog’s focus. A dog that loves to work does so willingly and happily and doesn’t need to be forced. Such dogs also work well under pressure and for extended periods of time. Search and rescue missions often last throughout the night and sometimes even days. For this reason alone, the dog needs to be eagerly anticipating working when it’s responding to a mission. The dogs love and desire to work is reinforced through positive training experiences and lots of play reward. Ideally, a search dog’s training is built on successful experiences and reward with praise, play and food.