The different search disciplines we train:
Rescue dogs learn to track missing persons in woods/landscapes (AREA SEARCH), earthquake-/debris fields (RUBBLE SEARCH), under the snow (AVALANCHE) and under water (WATER SEARCH). Also rescue dogs learn to trail a track on a long leash (TRACKING/MANTRAILING)
During his areasearch the dog must notify the doghandler all sitting or lying persons he has found. The people, for example, can be sitting in a tree, lying under a pile of branches, rolled in a camouflage net or located in a building. If the dog founds a victim, he can indicate in different ways, we call alerts:
This is a way of indication which is very reliable, especially for dogs that love to bring. While searching the dog will have a stuffed leather tube (bringsel) attached to his collar. If the dog has found a victim he takes the bringsel in his mouth and thus return to the doghandler. The doghandler disconnect the bringsel and goes after the dog which returned to the victim. The dog must bring the doghandler along the shortest path to the victim.
I the dog has found the victim he must thereby remain persistent and keep barking until the doghandler has come. For this type of alert it is important that the dog naturally easy barks.
Way of searching:
We learn to move the dog in a left-to-right movement through the area. The doghandler remains on the imaginary centerline of the searcharea, and sends the dog from one side to the other side of the area. The dog will make wide turns with a bend forward. The doghandler pays attention if the dog has searched the area well, taking into account the terrain, weather and wind direction.
Area search is teamwork, with sufficient independence of the dog to search new places and difficult vegetation, and start the alert if he finds a victim.
The reward is a ball to start his prey-game!
RubbleSearch is of course, "searching the rubble", where rubble is the situation which remains after an earthquake, collapsed buildings, bridges etcetera.
The dogs have to search to missing persons in the rubble. They have to do this with a certain calmness and own discretion to keep safe, but also agile and without fear.
The doghandler takes care of the safety of the dog, and judges the rubble of danger as risk of collapse or shifting.
The dog will be sent over the rubble pile and smells if persons are under the rubble. If he smells somebody he has to find and decide the spot where the most scent is coming out, so where he is as closest at the victim as he can be. The doghandler cannot help him with this find, but observes the behaviour of the dog and judges the winddirection, airstream and other extern influences.
The spot where the dog has the strongest scent, he lets his handler know by scratching and barking. By pawing/scratching the rescueworkers know at what place they can start digging carefully. Sometimes another dog will be started at this findingplace to be sure about the rescue place.
AvalanchSearch is, of course, searching after the avalanch, so searching in the snow.
The dogs have to search to missing persons who came under the snow after an avalanche. The way of searching is actually the same as in area search, the dog had to search the area on signals of the doghandler.
The airstream is totally different as in open area. The dogs have to search deep and with the smallest scent out of the snow they have to determine where they are above the victim.
The spot where the strongest scent comes out of the snow, the dog has to bark and scratch. By the scratching the rescue workers know at what spot the can start digging carefull.