How to Train a Cadaver Dog?
How to Train a Cadaver Dog? (Experienced Trainer Reviewed Guide)
There have been a lot of crime thrillers movies and web series where you have seen dogs helping police find dead bodies. These dogs are called cadaver dogs and are trained to locate human remains by detecting their scents.
Now you must be curious about how these dogs are trained to perform these tasks. And believe me, you are not the only one! Many people want to train their cadaver dogs. But the question remains: How to train a cadaver dog?
In this article, I am going on a journey to explain all the steps necessary to train a cadaver dog. Want to join me on this eventful journey? Keep reading.
Basics of Cadaver Dog Training
The training process typically involves a combination of basic obedience training, scent introduction, and search and alert training. During this time, the dog will need to learn to associate the scent of human remains with a reward, and to search for and alert their handler to the scent. This can be a complex process that requires a lot of patience, consistency, and repetition.
8 Steps to Train a Cadaver Dog
Becoming an expert in training cadaver dogs is a demanding process that involves a lot of hard work and dedication. The training process requires regular contact with human blood, decaying flesh, and bones. Here are the basic steps involved in training a cadaver dog:
1. Choosing the Right Dog: Choosing the right dog for you means selecting a dog that loves to engage in play constantly, rather than focusing solely on the dog's intelligence.
Experts recommend it is best to avoid clever dogs, as they can get easily distracted due to their curious nature.
2. Teaching Basic Commands: As with any dog training it is advisable to begin with basic obedience training. And before cadaver dog training, make sure your dog knows basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel.
3. Introducing the Scent: After completing basic training, it's crucial to familiarize your dog with the scent of human remains, as cadaver dogs must be able to identify this specific smell. This can be achieved using a scent kit designed for this purpose or actual human remains, where legally and ethically permissible.
4. Exposure to Different Scenarios: Expose your dog to dead bodies with different decaying conditions. Your dog should get used to finding different types of dead bodies in various conditions, whether it is day or night, regardless of the weather.
5. Associate the Scent with a Reward: Once your dog is familiar with the smell of human remains, associate it with a reward, like a toy or treat. This helps reinforce their ability to detect the scent.
6. Teaching Scent Detection: Train your dog to actively search for the scent by hiding it in different places and encouraging your dog to find it.
7. Teaching the Alert: When your dog finds the scent, teach them how to alert you. This could involve barking, sitting, or scratching. It is important to remind your dog that every place could be a crime scene until proven otherwise. Train them to sit or lie down calmly when they detect the scent and avoid behaviors like digging, urinating, or playing that could disturb potential evidence.
8. Continuous Practice: Cadaver dog training is an ongoing process, so keep practicing regularly and conducting real-world searches.
9. Professional Guidance: Even after following all the steps above, there is a possibility that you may not attain the desired results. In such cases, it is a good idea to consult a professional cadaver dog trainer. They can evaluate your dog's aptitude, trainability, and suitability for this kind of work.
5 Mistakes to Avoid
Everyone, including experienced trainers of cadaver dogs, makes mistakes and learns from them as they progress in their training journey. Cadaver dog trainers have identified the following mistakes that should be avoided to effectively train a dog. Here are the major mistakes that you should avoid:
1. Rushing the training process: As I have already mentioned earlier, training a cadaver dog is a complex process that requires time, patience, and consistency. Your dog needs some time to understand what is the purpose of the training. If you rush the training process your dog may get distracted and confused. He will not be able to understand what is going around. It can lead to mistakes and may result in an ineffective cadaver dog.
2. Punishing Your Dog: Punishment-based training methods can be harmful to a dog's mental and physical well-being, and can also lead to a decrease in their ability to detect the scent of human remains. In my previous articles, I have strongly emphasized utilizing positive enforcement when training a dog. Research has proved that positive reinforcement is a more effective and humane training method.
3. Failing to socialize the dog: Cadaver dogs need to be socialized to a variety of people, environments, and situations. Failing to socialize the dog can lead to fear, anxiety, and aggression, which can negatively impact their ability to perform their job.
4. Ignoring the dog's health: Cadaver dogs need to be in good physical health to perform their job effectively. An ill dog with a runny nose may not be able to fully smell the scent of a dead body. Neglecting to maintain the dog's physical health can lead to a decrease in their ability to detect the scent of human remains.
5. Failing to continue training and reinforcement: We all know practice makes perfect. The same is true for dogs. Remember, training a cadaver dog is an ongoing process, and it is important to continue practicing and reinforcing the dog's skills even after they have been fully trained. This includes regular training sessions and real-world searches. Failure to provide ongoing practice will affect your dog's ability to find human remains.
How long does it take to train a cadaver dog?
The length of time it takes to train a cadaver dog can vary depending on several factors, including the dog's breed, age, and temperament, as well as the trainer's experience and training methods. Generally, it can take anywhere from several months to a year or more to fully train a cadaver dog.
Cadaver dog training is all about familiarizing your dog with the smell of human remains. For this training, you do not need a highly intelligent dog but a dog that loves to play all day. Follow all the steps mentioned above, be consistent, and use positive enforcement during the training process. And you will have your fully trained cadaver dog in 2 years.