Simple search of a buried person

A simple debris search is considered one that takes place in a debris field no more than 50 square meters and is located in a leveled area. It is very important the dog always gets plenty of affection and praise before going on a search and rescue mission as this provides fundamental stimulus. The dog will need to be let off the leash at a distance of no more than 25 meters from the scene. The first area of the "disaster scene" will need to be covered by a partition fragment with debris over it so that the dog is not able to see the "victim" or have access to him or her. You will also need to avoid the possibility of any distinctive traces that could favor any type of visual discrimination of the person that is buried.

Something that could be harmful to the dog is if the buried person hits the dog with some debris and this could cause the dog to condition itself negatively to the training. This type situation should be prevented and controlled by previous rehearsals. The dogs should be placed inside their respective crates, which can be considered their "waiting spaces" without access to seeing the work area. The people helping and acting as the victims will still need to be people the dogs or dog knows during the development of the introductory debris search and first job, then this will be practices with complete strangers.

The dog or dogs should not be allowed to become familiarized with the work zone; this will enhance the dog's ability to adapt to the environment right off the bat. The dog needs to learn to feel attracted to the simple sight of the debris that will have been previously taught through predictive stimulus. It has been observed that some dogs urinate or even defecate once they have perceived the smell of a buried human body due to the inevitable sense of relaxation this emotional state causes. In other cases it has been observed that dog's voluntary control becomes disturbed when smelling human odor and this can become a harmful obstacle to the way the dog barks.

Another way you will be able to notice if the dog is becoming frustrated or anxious if it starts to show signs of biting strands of grass or other elements around the area. The dog or dogs that are able to successfully locate and signal the person buried in debris, will then pass on to working in larger debris filled areas. Little by little and progressively the dog will be required to search more and in larger areas. All of this training will cause the dog to progress and the odor of a human body underneath debris will become a potent predictive stimulus for the dog. In this phase of simple search the following techniques will need to be applied:

  • Progressive autonomy by action of the mannequin effect.
  • Innocuous reestablishment by applying sounds.
  • Feasible localization by previous compensation of factors set in front of the dog.
  • Support without demand by limited approximation.
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