Georgia K9 is literally pacing new ground in the areas of assistance dogs. Jeff and Kelli’s experience in law enforcement working dogs of all disciplines has translated to service dog training without peer. Jeff and Kelli have pioneered trailing work in this arena.
Currently, Jeff and Kelli are working on a trailing program for Assistance dogs to Autistic Children. The K-9 serves a threefold purpose:
- Monitor and Companion to special needs children
- Tethering for for safety
- Search dog should their child go missing
Traditionally speaking, trailing work is often confused with “tracking”. The difference is that Tracking K9 work is indiscriminate and the dog is not scent specific. In other words, the dog is looking for the freshest track out of an area by any human. Tracking programs are now being applied to Assistance Dogs. Unfortunately, the average Tracking Program is simply ineffective because the freshest scent out of the area is generally not the child’s but another family member or a searcher.
We are also very concerned about the reality of any dog training program designed specifically to find a child. Regardless of the methodology, we believe that there are certain inherent complications that make it difficult for any dog, (no matter how good), to find people. Those factors include but are not limited to:
- Total time missing
- Distracting odors
- Distracting people or situations
- Various environmental factors such as heat, wind, etc.
The problem we have seen is that parents are often under the false assumption that their assistance dog WILL locate their children in the event they go missing. This is simply not always true. A properly trained, scent specific trailing dog will enhance search efforts and more than likely establish a good direction of travel. However, they do not find what they are looking for every time. There are too many complicating variables that create problems for the dog to make this true.
The second problem is we do not believe that a tracking dog trained in traditional methods can be brought into the family environment post factum. To begin with, the dog was probably never trained to follow just the children they will need to look for. Furthermore, they were probably never trained to find any specific person, simply the freshest scent available.