Doberman Pinschers have a long history of performing highly valued tasks such as protection dogs, guard dogs, war dogs and even service dogs. Yet another area where Dobermans can excel is in search and rescue, in an effort to help law enforcement to find missing persons. While Dobermans are not at the top of the list of dogs that we associate with search and rescue, they are certainly involved in this important service and some Dobermans have even claimed some notoriety from their success. In this article, we'll take a look at what search and rescue involves, pros and cons of Dobermans in the field, and how you can get involved in this important service.
What is search and rescue?
Search and rescue is an important part of any law enforcement's arsenal in the attempt to find missing persons. Dogs and their handlers work as a team in the field. While the handler directs the dog and makes sure the dog remains safe, the dog attempts to locate a person by detecting the human scent and directing his handler to the location. The main scenarios in which search and rescue dogs are used are wilderness, disaster, cadaver, avalanche and drowning.
Are Dobermans a good choice for search and rescue?
While it is true that Doberman Pinschers have found some success in this field, it should be made clear that they are not suitable for every search and rescue scenario. Because of their short coats, Dobermans should not be exposed to extreme weather for extended periods of time. Also, Dobermans must be very carefully trained. They are generally very sensitive to their handlers and any mistakes made in training could be difficult to recover once the behavior has been ingrained.
On the other hand, Dobermans have a lot of positive attributes that can make an excellent search and rescue dog. Thanks to its high intelligence, endurance, agility, very well developed sense of hearing and smell, bravery, very high rate of retention and love of learning and even its playfulness, Dobermans have the potential to become exceptional search and rescue dogs. Dobermans tend to be successful in a variety of search and rescue scenarios, especially wilderness SAR, where their energy level and strength help them to be able to search for hours, and their agility can be helpful in disaster scenarios. Plus, with their short coats, they are quick to be cleaned from the debris of searching in the field.
Training for search and rescue
What with training, certification and equipment, search and rescue is a very large commitment and it isn't for everyone, and not for every dog, either. Training can take as long as two years and the certification process is a long and grueling one. Not only is it a large time commitment, but it can be an expensive one as well. Once a handler and his dog are trained, calls for help can come in the middle of the night or at inconvenient times and searches are sometimes carried out in the worst of conditions.
But those that are willing to face these obstacles are in for a wonderful experience. Not only is it fascinating to watch a Doberman at work, but the feeling of helping a family in need is rewarding beyond measure.