How and why, you should teach your dog to play hide and seek with your children.
Protection dogs with the right personality can be trained to work in more than just protection. They can also function quite well doing Search and Rescue or even Emotional Therapy.
On average, 2,000 children go missing each day in the United States. Some of these cases are related to child custody issues or domestic disputes, but many simply involve a child running off or getting lost.
In contrast, considering how many dogs and kids spend time outside together on a daily basis, there’s no reason not to give your canine companion some scent training to help you in case your child ever goes missing. Here’s how the hide and seek game can save your child's life.
Hello, my name is Amy Arthur. I breed, train, and sell, purebred Doberman Pinscher puppies for service or protection work and as excellent quality family pets. Our dogs are personality tested and certified under Tackleberry Solutions and recommended for specific tasks depending upon their individual score results.
What Happens When Help is Not Available?
Naturally, when a child is lost, the first thing that you're going to want to do is call emergency services for help.
However, this game can not only help you for those few precious moments when you're waiting for aid to arrive.
But what happens when you're talking SHTF and help can't or isn't coming?
What is Hide and Seek with Dogs
To start, when training your dog basic manners, it’s easier if you focus on making them fun with classic games. Examples of this would be fetch, tug of war, or even just performing tricks.
However, I'm going to give you a different kind of game to play – one that will help keep your child safe from harm and potentially save his or her life.
The Hide and Seek Game is designed to get you and your dog working together in a specific manner. Not only is it a super fun way to bond with your canine, but it also develops a potentially life-saving skill.
How Hide & Seek Can Save Lives
For one thing, dogs have an impressive sense of smell and can follow their noses to the scent of a person—even if that person is no longer around. If your child goes missing, you can use your dog’s nose to help search for him or her. This is especially applicable if you're in a public location (like a park) and you've lost sight of your child.
Keep in mind that with missing children, time is of utmost importance.
The national child safety organization NCMEC advises that after an hour has passed since a child went missing, search time becomes exponentially harder for law enforcement to carry out effectively. (NCMEC notes that only 10% of abducted children are recovered within 72 hours). By two hours, the chances of finding your child alive diminishes substantially. And by four hours, it is pretty much impossible.
Recommended Reading: 5 Brutal Truths About Socialized Protection Dogs
How To Teach Your Dog to Play Hide and Seek
In short, the game is fairly simple. One person acts as it, or the seeker, and the others hide with a treat (start out with something that smells really good, like freshly cooked bacon.) The seeker (or the handler) then encourages the dog until he finds those that are hiding.
To start, it is important to begin very simply when introducing your canine to this game. Let them see where the children are hiding at first. Then show him if needed where they went. Follow up with lots of praise and treats every time he finds a participant.
Obviously, the more you play this game, the better your dog will get at it and the harder you can make it. Your goal is to continue working with him until he can play the game with only a footprint to start with.
Side note: With time, you can even train your dog to search for a specific person just with a command and the name of that person - no clothing articles needed (they already know the scent.)
Once your dog has mastered finding children in hiding, practice hiding them in different rooms of your home or even outside in bushes and trees. This way they are familiar with their scent no matter where they are hidden.
Side note: It’s important that you keep training sessions short so as not to confuse or overwork your pet. (Always end on a successful find, so stop before your dog gets too tired or loses interest.)
Keeping Your Child Interested in Playing with Their Dog
In conjunction with developing life-saving skills, having a fun game for your children to play with your dog will keep them interested in their pet. Furthermore, it will help them to continue to grow and nourish a strong bond between them.
Not to mention, knowing that their dog has the knowledge to find them should they get lost can also be very comforting for you and your child.
Side note: Use this as an opportunity to enforce basic obedience. For example, have your dog sit while the children hide. Have them sit after the child has been found. And work with them on the leash while they're searching.
Parents Need Training Too!
Parents can also benefit from training on how to perform a search-and-rescue operation when their child is missing. It may be a little much to ask that every parent learn search-and-rescue techniques, but it’s not at all unreasonable to expect them to know basic things about staying safe and looking for loved ones in an emergency situation.
When A Child Is Afraid to Be Found
Children who are scared to be found will often hide (especially after a traumatic event), which can result in tragic consequences if they are not located.
Police and fire departments across America train police dogs to help find missing children—but these specially trained canines are expensive. The average cost of training one dog is around $12,000.
Fortunately, you can use your own pet to search for lost children quickly and effectively. Even more fortunately, you can do it for free.
Side note: As you play Hide and Seek with your canine, you will find that they'll tend to get super excited and love all over the child when they've found them. (This is even true for children that they've found who they've never met before.) Which is especially beneficial when you're faced with a scenario of a child who is scared - the love of a dog can be very soothing.
Safety Tips for Kids Who Get Lost
Since search and rescue missions can be tricky, it’s important to have a plan in place ahead of time. Talk with your kids about what they should do if they ever get lost, like how to use apps to find their location or where to meet up with friends or family members.
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If possible, make a game out of it—this will help them remember what to do if something happens. This also helps families work together so everyone is on board when an emergency occurs.
Most importantly, playing hide and seek with your canine can help your child learn how their dog uses their nose. This way, they'll be familiar with using scent as a means for being located.
Furthermore, having your dog work in an enclosed space (such as a large room) can help your dog get used to having their family's scent surrounded by scents that aren’t theirs—like furniture or even other people—so that when it comes time to use them in real life, they’ll know what smells are important.
Disclaimer: This article is written as an opinion piece only and is not to be taken as fact, legal or medical advice. Your results are in no way guaranteed and will depend on several factors including your willingness to plan ahead, study and train.
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