Mid-Atlantic D.O.G.S. -- Dog Behavior Policy
During a long-ago discussion on the SAR-DOGS email list, Marian Hardy posted
Dog Behavior Policy for the Mid-Atlantic D.O.G.S. search group. With her
I converted it to HTML and made it available for all. It's not
only a sound
policy for the steps it lays out, but also the reasoning behind the rules.
Search and rescue dogs are expected to be friendly and non-aggressive
people and other animals. Any deviation from expected friendly behavior
poor reflection on all of us and volunteer search and rescue dog teams in
general. A dog curling its lip at a person or a dog jumping another dog
means only one thing in the eyes of the public - aggressive, "mean" dog.
Even the most laid back friendly dog can be aroused or startled for
unfathomable to the handler. Your state of mind, anxiousness, irritation,
frustration, or anger; is transmitted "right down the leash" to your dog
does not know the reason for your state of mind. It only knows you are
"uptight" and will alert accordingly and not necessarily the way or when
The best correction in dog training is the anticipated one that is given
before or just as the undesired action begins.
In training sessions we:
- Introduce our dogs to as many situations as we conceivably can in a
- Expose our dogs to off-leash play at training.
- Have other members handle our dogs during obedience sessions and in
field if the handler wishes to try the latter.
- Use training sessions as the place to retrain, correct, or discipline
with behavior problems.
- Create situations in which a dog that has displayed unwanted social
behavior can be corrected so that it learns acceptable social behavior.
- Train our dogs to come immediately when called from a distance when
lead and to down on recall.
- Handlers are responsible for the behavior of their dog at all times.
- Repeated acts of non social behavior by a dog that is not immediately
corrected by the handler will not be tolerated.
- Handlers will use regular training sessions as the opportunity to
- Each of us will notify a handler, if in the handlers absence, they
inappropriate behavior by that person's dog.
- Each of us will assist a handler in correcting or retraining a
- At non-training sessions, dogs will be kept on a leash, held at a
sufficient length so the dog is under control, until you are confident
your dog is relaxed and others do not mind dogs off leash.
- At searches dogs must be on leash when arriving and leaving base camp.
This includes returning from an assignment.
- Dogs will be on leash when people are eating.
Repeated incidents of non-social behavior by a dog will be called to the
attention of the Standards Committee. The Standards Committee will
the individual problem with the handler. In severe or repeated cases, if
handler, after it is called to his/her attention fails to recognize or
acknowledge a problem exists; an applicant or trainee team will be asked
leave the Unit; or in the case of an operational team, be taken off the
out roster until the problem is corrected.
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Text and photos copyright Dan Comden, 1995-2006
Seattle, WA U.S.A.
Email -- dan*@*comdens.com (remove the asterisks around the "@" symbol)