We are in the holiday mode this week. Here is one of my favorite posts from July 2014. Hope your holidays are going well. See you next week with our New Years update and resolutions.
Okay, this week is a topic that I have been wanting to blog about for some time. I have kept saying to myself this will be fun, interesting and easy to do. Yes, it is with the exception of the latter. I have not found this topic easy at all. But, here goes… Indications.
The alert or indication in simple terms is the signal that our K-9 partner gives the handler that it has found someone. It is as simple as that. I wish. Now, I must remind the readers that we have only been going over “live” find dogs so far in this Search and Rescue Saturday series. Someday we will get into human remains detection but for now we are all live find.
It’s All About Communication
No matter what discipline you are working your dog in search and rescue, the indication is one very important part of how your dog communicates back to you. While training our K-9 partners we try to use the most natural thing that our dog does when he has has found his victim. Also, since searches happen at night we need to find something that we the handler will understand in the dark when our partner has found the victim. Handlers also need to consider noise levels whether it would be machinery, other ground searchers, or even just the wind.
Find and Re-Find
This type of alert is mainly used in wilderness searches. The find and re-find is considered a bark alert. A K-9 trained in this type of indication is sent out to find the victim. Once the K-9 has found the person it will return to the handler and bark. The K-9 is given another command to “show me”. The dog returns with the handler running behind to show the location of the victim.
The Bark Alert
This indication is exactly what it is named. Go figure. This alert is typically used in disaster searches. K-9’s trained in this method are sent out to search for the victim. When the dog has found the victim it will stay in that location and bark until the handler comes to the area.
A Bringsel Alert
A bringsel alert is one that I have never seen personally. The K-9 is first taught to hold something in his mouth. Then the search the dog is given the command to find. The dog is sent out with a piece of leather or a small bite stick attached to his collar. The dog will return to the handler with the item in the its’ mouth if the victim is found. After, both the K-9 and handler return to the victim.
Finally there is the Physical Alert. This indication is also what it sounds like. It is physical. Usually part of a find re-find indication the K-9 returns to the handler and makes physical contact with the handler. This contact could be pulling on a tug toy attached the the handler’s belt or actually body checking the handler by jumping on them. Although, this indication is easy to read, it is not without drawbacks. First, an eighty pound dog running and body checking you can hurt. Also, the handler needs to know their surroundings. Standing by the ledge of a cliff could become problematic.
This was a quick overview of the most common types of alerts or indications.