The Puli as a Search and Rescue Dog – A Basic Overview
The Puli is an extremely intelligent, energetic, highly motivated, inquisitive, and high drive breed that requires mental and social stimulation. Among the many creative challenges available to the Puli is Search and Rescue, also known as SAR.
Training a Puli for SAR begins at the age of ten weeks when the puppy begins socialization and obedience training. As the puppy masters these skills, it incorporates scent training into the training regime. Scent work is multi-faceted and the Puli may train for certification in specialized areas such as cadaver, narcotics, or explosives detection. Additional options include arson investigation or tracking and trailing to locate persons who have gone missing due to a variety of circumstances including, but not limited to, major emergencies or national disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes.
Search and rescue is a team effort between the handler and his Puli and while the team trains a minimum of three days/week in urban, simulated disaster, or “natural” environments, the handler takes additional SAR seminars focusing on search and rescue and disaster preparedness. These seminars are offered by local law enforcement or an office of emergency preparedness. The handlers must also pass a course in blood borne pathogens as well as introductory FEMA Homeland Security courses that are available online. Finally, the handler must pass introductory tracking and trailing courses that include learning scent patterns and the effects of weather and terrain on scent patterns. He must also become proficient with GPS equipment, learn to properly fill-out activity logs, and master the proper handling of evidence.
Once the team, handler and Puli, meets the basic training requirements it is eligible to field test for national certification. When the team is certified it becomes eligible for service in its field of certified proficiency. Below are three certificates belonging to Judith Roush and her female Puli, Noe Sophia.
Expenses include: a SAR vest or other protective clothing for the Puli, handler clothing that’s appropriate for the working environment, a travel dog crate, portable water and food bowls, first aid equipment, long leads, instructor fees for initial and ongoing training and skill maintenance, GPS equipment, and annual renewal or membership fees for professional organizations. During training and work situations the SAR team is protected by insurance through the team’s professional organization.
For additional training information contact: The National Search Dog Alliance (NSDA);
or Michelle Denton, certified trainer with Extreme K9s International