Search & Rescue Saturday — Games Puppies Play

by Mr. Taleteller on

Got Puppy, Must Play!

I’ve been asked on many occasions, when did you start training Küster.  Truth be told from the time we picked him up.  We did the things that everyone does with a puppy.  Do we let our puppies explore?  Do we allow people to pet and hold our puppies? The answer is, yes.  I think the main difference between the working dog and a pet as puppies is the end motivation. I need Küster to love people.  So Houndstooth and I went out of our way to introduce him to almost everyone that would make eye contact.  The end result, he is not shy, loves people, and according to him his poo doesn’t stink.

Küster at Saint Louis Canyon -- Tales and Tails

Küster at Saint Louis Canyon

Exploring we will go.

Küster was allowed to explore and get on things in his surroundings.  We encouraged it.  Let him learn about different surfaces and that sometimes things move from under your feet.  Everything was controlled so he wouldn’t get hurt. Everything was fun, exciting and had a reward at the end.  The end motivation was helping him gain confidence on unstable surfaces.  One puppy game we play is chase.  Puppies love to chase.  We let Küster chase us around. Once he was little bigger we would put something in his way.  Let him think about going over or around it.  The bigger he grew physically the larger the obstacle.  These types of games help to build a foundation of training and rewards.  I feel they were key to helping me learn how he works, reacts, and learns.  I’m sure he was also taking notes on how I work.

Küster's Paycheck -- Tales and Tails

Küster’s Paycheck

We have created a monster.

I’ve always found the first year or so during a dog’s life totally fascinating.  They are all go, all fun, and take in everything.  Many of our regular subscribers to Tales And Tails know that another K-9 handler started a puppy at the same time.  I believe that their birthdays are only a week apart.  It was interesting to watch the differences in their personalities.  K9-Buzz, a Golden Retriever, was the type of dog to jump straight onto everything.  K9-Küster, well, he would put on the brakes.  Make sure it wasn’t going to kill him, then jump in.  Different breeds take to things in different ways.  It’s our job to make sure they are learning and having fun.


Buzz Climbs on the

On It!


 Here, this is how it’s done

I was also lucky enough to have a “retired” area search dog named, Taeryn as part of our group.  Taeryn was really good with the puppies.  So a few times after all the adult dogs were finished training we would bring out the puppies and let them follow the Taeryn around.  It was good for them to learn not to be afraid of climbing on things that might seem scary.


Boys Come Over Here.  Get A

Boys Come Over Here. Get A Reward


 A good foundation

Raising a search and rescue dog from a puppy is in reality a gamble.  But, we try to set that good foundation with games and lots of fun.  This continues throughout a dog’s life.  Once, we find the discipline that we feel the dog is best suited for, the games continue.  Yes, Küster is now two years old and finding people is one big game with a reward if he finds the correct person when he is trailing.


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  • Sue Dyer

    Golden Receiver ??? 🙂

    So glad that Kuster is doing so well. When do you take the exam?

  • genjiscorner

    With so many strangers loving in him, and telling him how cute he is, why would he think his poo stinks? 🙂 We have been following Kuster’s progress, and think he’s ready to pass the test and make it official.

  • Reilly & Denny Cowspotdogs

    We agree – go for it and if he passes brilliant and if he doesn’t – well there is always the next time right? Do you know Bert? He is also an amazing search and rescue dog as well as a therapy dog. He doesn’t post much anymore dur to internet issues but is truly amazing.

  • Sara Blair

    You did a wonderful job raising Kuster! He’s confident, inquisitive and takes everything in stride. Love him!

  • Jen

    It’s unbelievable that Kuster is 2 already, I don’t know how that happened 😉

    I’ve been fascinated with Search and Rescue work since I read Susannah Charleson’s “Scent of the Missing”. I know i personally don’t have that level of dedication, but I admire the people who do. I think it’s a wonderful work for dogs, and the training (and their abilities!) are just so interesting.

  • harrispen

    Of course Kuster’s poo doesn’t stink. Mine doesn’t either.


  • SGilbert

    Thank You for your blog with a Search & Rescue Dog. I find it very interesting.

  • jan

    In my fantasies I think about training my little guys to do S&R. It looks like such a rewarding way to work with your dog.

  • Great post! I love reading about what you’ve done with Kuster! Thanks for these Saturday posts, Mr. Taleteller!

  • Dory and the Mama

    Another informative post, thanks so much for sharing Kuster’s training with us!!

  • Michelle Ridlon

    Great post! All good training tips. 🙂

  • Amy Boyer

    Another interesting post, it sounds like you did a lot of exploring but not necessarily specialized training as such in the puppy months. Also I think it was cool to expose the puppies to an older, experienced dog.

  • Jodi

    Very interesting, we did most of those things with Sampson as a puppy too, although we weren’t training him for one thing in specific. The one thing I discouraged him from was climbing a ladder. I don’t know why but I thought he couldn’t do it. Silly me.

  • Lori – What Remains Now

    I learn something with every one of your posts, Mr. Taleteller.