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Discussion Starter #1
I seem to have read that the police k9s will sometimes come out and help to locate wandering alzheimer's patients or other lost folks who aren't bad guys. Do they use the same dogs to track down this type of person as to track a bad guy trying to elude them?

If so, how does the dog know to act differently if he finds the person ahead of his handler?

I would think if someone was lost in a wildnerness area they would call SAR, not the police k9s, but I thought I had read that the actual police k9s sometimes help find lost people and was just wondering about it
 

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I would say the majority of missing persons are rapidly resolved by police both with and without k9s. Their tracking dogs are on lead and they can control before they get to the person. Not all police tracking dogs bite. Down here a lot of the bloohounds don't bite folks and are often used.

They have dogs loaded and ready to go at all times unlike SAR who may need to wrap things up at work, go home, get changed, get the dog etc.....Early in the incident is important for SAR but having LE as first line makes a lot of sense.

A primary difference is LE K9s typically train on fresher tracks than SAR trailing dogs so as the time goes on the SAR dog is often a better resource for figuring out a direction of travel to help direct the air scent dogs and ground searchers.
 

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I track quite a few missing / endangered persons each month. I am called out to track missing Alzheimer's / Dementia patients and autistic children that wander off. I respond to these calls while working my normal shift or get called out at all hours of the night to go and track missing persons.

I have had many successful tracks of missing alzheimer's, endangered, suicidal subjects or autistic children. The longest distance was over a mile and was predominately hard surface through neighborhoods and into the woods. The longest search was three hours for a missing woman with early on set dementia. 3 hours of tracking / trailing through a swamp, which turned into an area search, because I was determined to find this lady and wouldn't give up. She was missing for two hours before I was called out to search. It took nearly an hour to walk her 3/4 mile out of the swamp because of the tough conditions.

All of our dogs are "find and bite" as our primary objective is tracking felony suspects. Boomer tracked an armed robbery suspect Saturday night, directly to his car. He then alerted to the car for narcotics. A subsequent search of the vehicle based on Boomer's narcotics alert, led to us recovering Marijuana, two guns, the clothing worn in the robbery, the cash stolen from Papa John's and other drug paraphernalia. The subjects were ID'd in 2 other robberies, a 7-11 and a Church. Saturday was a good night, two apprehensions and 15 felony charges between the two suspects, based on Boomer's work.

When searching for an endangered person, I keep the dog close. I watch the dog and focus on the "proximity alerts." Obviously, tracking a missing person requires different tactics than tracking a violent felon. We use our Patrol Dogs for both, we just modify our handling techniques.
 

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The state police train their K9's around my area...different places every Thursday I see them somewhere. Usually 6 or more teams get together at the fire station before they disperse to train.
I would love to volunteer to be a 'victim' but my schedule doesn't allow it and approaching them would be odd. They were in my back woods a month ago, and dogs track other handlers...so I think they do need different people to "track".

If I were a victim, I'd be carrying a very nice tug toy/ball...lol

From what I know, we don't have an active SAR team within an hours drive.
 

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It is nice to hear that LE is training for trailing /tracking.. It isn't the discipline that most like due to the running and logistics in setting trails etc...

Great job Slamdunc!!!!!

I find it interesting how dome areas are all about the trailing /tracking and other areas (like a county near me) aren't at all... It, to me, is an important discipline and one that if neglected severely hampers the success a department can have..
 

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It is nice to hear that LE is training for trailing /tracking.. It isn't the discipline that most like due to the running and logistics in setting trails etc...

Great job Slamdunc!!!!!

I find it interesting how dome areas are all about the trailing /tracking and other areas (like a county near me) aren't at all... It, to me, is an important discipline and one that if neglected severely hampers the success a department can have..
Thanks!

I am running a patrol school now with 2 green dogs and 1 green handler. Tracking / trailing is a large component of my Patrol School. Tracking / Trailing is our bread and butter. You can't catch people if you can't trail them.

We do hard surface scent discrimination trailing training. We are in our second week of the school. All of our tracking / trailing training so far has been in Walmart parking lots or Mall parking lots. Traffic, and folks walking across the track creates a realistic environment for the dogs. Tracking / Trailing (we do both) on grass or vegetated surfaces is easy. I do not progress to grass or woods until the dog can follow a track for at least a 1/2 mile on asphalt. Then going to grass is super easy for the dogs. We knock out the hard surfaces first and lay a foundation in busy streets and parking lots.

I know that some day I am going to wander off and I want these new guys to track well, so they can find me. :grin2:
 

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Hineni7,
You have to keep in mind all the tasks that a Patrol Dog must do and tracking is just one of them.

Our Patrol dogs do:

Building searches
Obedience
Agility
Article / Evidence searches (mostly for other cops keys or cell phones lost in the woods.)
Aggression work and control
Area Searches
Apprehension work
Vehicle takedowns
Officer Safety
Tracking / Trailing

Our Narcotics dogs do:
trained in Marijuana, Meth, Heroin, Ecstasy, Cocaine and Crack Cocaine.
Search vehicles, buildings, luggage, lockers and boats and ships.

Our Swat dogs:
Perform Covert searches and guided searches of high risk warrants and high risk subjects.
Cover Perimeter and are exposed to Flash Bangs, gas and the LRAD
specially picked to search confined spaces like crawl spaces and attics.

Boomer is a Dual Purpose Patrol / narcotics and SWAT dog. He does all of the above and then some. He waves to kids at demos while wearing sunglasses, opens the car door (a very bad trick) and has entertained thousands of people.

It is hard to be proficient in everything we do, but tracking is super important. If you can't find em; you can't catch em.
 

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Whether or not LE dogs are trained scent discriminating seems to very by department from what I have been seen.

I know one department who said point blank - GSDs cannot discriminate, only Bloodhounds can. Even after they tested a GSD who flawlessly worked a very complex urban track with contamination. This was a friend's dog (she eventually became LE for another department) and they set up the problem to mess up the dog but it did not.

Do you also worked aged tracks? How tight are you on trailing when it comes to allowable distance from the footfall track? We have had great arguments on that one with one group allowing fringe scenting the other wanting the dogs truer to the track.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I track quite a few missing / endangered persons each month. I am called out to track missing Alzheimer's / Dementia patients and autistic children that wander off. I respond to these calls while working my normal shift or get called out at all hours of the night to go and track missing persons.

I have had many successful tracks of missing alzheimer's, endangered, suicidal subjects or autistic children. The longest distance was over a mile and was predominately hard surface through neighborhoods and into the woods. The longest search was three hours for a missing woman with early on set dementia. 3 hours of tracking / trailing through a swamp, which turned into an area search, because I was determined to find this lady and wouldn't give up. She was missing for two hours before I was called out to search. It took nearly an hour to walk her 3/4 mile out of the swamp because of the tough conditions.

All of our dogs are "find and bite" as our primary objective is tracking felony suspects. Boomer tracked an armed robbery suspect Saturday night, directly to his car. He then alerted to the car for narcotics. A subsequent search of the vehicle based on Boomer's narcotics alert, led to us recovering Marijuana, two guns, the clothing worn in the robbery, the cash stolen from Papa John's and other drug paraphernalia. The subjects were ID'd in 2 other robberies, a 7-11 and a Church. Saturday was a good night, two apprehensions and 15 felony charges between the two suspects, based on Boomer's work.

When searching for an endangered person, I keep the dog close. I watch the dog and focus on the "proximity alerts." Obviously, tracking a missing person requires different tactics than tracking a violent felon. We use our Patrol Dogs for both, we just modify our handling techniques.
Thanks Slamdunc. Amazing work that you & your dogs do.
 

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Nancy,
We do more "trailing" than tracking with our K-9's. There is no doubt that a good single purpose Bloodhound with an experienced handler can trail better than a dual purpose dog. Those dogs are built for it. I don't think that a GSD can't do an excellent job, it is just training time allocated to tracking vs other disciplines.

If all I did was track with Boomer he would be an outstanding tracking dog.

We allow our dog to trail and go where ever the scent takes them. As you know, many factors affect the scent or trail, wind, rain, temperature, terrain, time of day, humidity, etc. The rafts are often carried off the actual track and our dogs are allowed to cast and work the scent cone as the dog sees fit. He has the nose and the super senses. I simply follow the "compass." Many of our dogs will short cut a track and may be a good distance off the actual track, but hot on the odor and working. Our dogs can fringe and we will follow them as long as they are working the odor.

The oldest track that I have run is 8 hours, in a torrential downpour. It rained about 2" that day and poured for most of the track. It was a burglary where the suspects fled out the back door of an apartment. I figured it was a zero chance of tracing anything. But, I felt really bad for the victim and just wanted to try everything. The track was about 2/3's of a mile through a heavily populated apartment complex. Boomer tracked to the building the suspect lived, the track ended there. I checked the next 4 buildings on that street with a negative indication. Through some additional work I was able to determine that the suspect lived in a apartment on the 2nd floor. Normally, for criminal tracks I don't do aged tracks. Everyone has a cell phone and most suspects that do run from an unplanned event "phone a friend" and get picked up. Even in our rural areas.
 

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Thecowboysgirl,

Thanks!

Most days it is a really fun and a very rewarding job.

Other days, not so much. When the job stops being fun I will be out. Going to work now and I will be seeing where I stand in our State Retirement system.
 

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So do you have an outer limit on fringing? I know the further they fringe the harder it is to recover a lost track. I know some who have gotten off 100-200+ feet but then some old bloodhound handlers who only allow 2 leash lengths in training. Perhaps on older tracks (ours are normally 12-24+ hours) the trail gets broken up even more over time.

In all fairness, I work a cadaver dog and am training and air scent dog so am not expert on trailing and tracking :).
 

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Jocyon said:How tight are you on trailing when it comes to allowable distance from the footfall track? We have had great arguments on that one with one group allowing fringe scenting the other wanting the dogs truer to the track.


I have a (personal) issue with this line of this thinking (not saying that you believe this or aimed at you Nancy :) ) .. I am of the opinion that those that try to be so astringent in their 'trailing' and their dogmatic insistence that the scent MUST be within a certain amount of distance from 'actual track' (and who knows for sure unless only working known tracks in training) have the wrong mindset... Whether it is LE or SAR, we are trying to save people's lives by finding them, or for apprehension... Why are we using the dog if we 'know' where the scent is???

ASCT has done alot of research through well known universities about scent and how far it can blow... For instance: For each mile per hour of wind odor can drift 10ft! For every degree of a slope odor can drift 14ft! Now add aging, contamination, bldgs that 'breathe in and out', rain, heat, humidity or lack of, cars, terrain which can 'allow or encourage' scent drift (like asphalt, concrete, open fields, large bodies of water, rivers, etc) or be caught and held, etc...

When we as humans interfere with our interpretation and assumption of where scent is and then restrict the dog to that limited scope, we substantially limit the chances of success... Personally, I think it is arrogant of us as humans, although natural to do... It takes faith and proven success in trainings and actual deployment to 'blindly' follow your dog.. But if you can read the dog well, you will know if he/she is working the scent or not...

Yes, sometimes air currents can reek havoc on the scent picture.. The dog gets a waft of fresh scent and follows it only to be led into a scent pool, or nothing, BUT, that is where reading your dog comes in, and knowing where the last true 'trail' marker was at so you can get back to it and on your way... I know that if I was lost and scared, hurting and cold I want the dog that trails and uses ALL of their abilities (including air scent when appropriate) to shortcut the trail and find me, rather than the overly astringent dog team that follows my crazy 5mile trail within 6ft of my actual footfall... Lol..

I am not saying I expect to say a trail dog air scenting and griding for a scent cone.. I will give an example : a few days ago I was working a 17hr aged double blind trail.. It was in the wilderness with mtn rises on either side and a river in between.. A fire road cut in between the mtns and river... My boy worked the trail mostly on the river side even though the subject had crossed the river (which we did too about 150ft down stream of her crossing) and worked the hillside across the fire road... We found our subject.. The hillside she worked was sloped, the scent drifted down the hill, skated across the gravel road, rolled down the hill across the river and settled in the flat and heavily treed area (which also gets a ton of fog in the night and morning hours).. When we compared gps trails, he was mirroring her movements parallel to the trail the whole time... This was a double blind trail. I had no clue where she was or how she got there and was done solo...

Anyhow, just my thoughts and perspective on being to scripted on trails... IPO, definitely, SAR or LE, absolutely not, trust the dog he knows his nose and the scent..
 

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I think some of these questions arose from those we have had concerning air scent dogs. We train scent specific on the air scent dogs but setting up solid double blind problems and getting reliability statistics is more of a challenge due to the many problems with having consistent studies.

Our observations have been that as as distance increases discrimination seems less reliable. The scent picture would have to change as distance increases by the sheer fact that heavier parts of it would travel less far than the lighter components. The raft theory, I understand, is less accepted though still the volatiles remain. Of course it is all fascinating. At which point is the dog just finding any person out there and not the specific person? Of course even discriminating human vs non human is a form of discrimination and upon the find there would be some matching-or could the dog possibly say "not me person" and reject if it was the wrong person.

I have certainly had distance alerts on cadaver at greater than 1 mile distance ....... Deb Palman had an interesting paper on that. But cadaver is less differentiation than specific human scent (though maybe not-just a different kind of differentiation. Rambling on........sorry don't mean to sidetrack......

I was just wonder Slamdunc's perception as most LE I have met tend to be more on the gradient of track-sure vs trailing on even their scent discriminatory trailing dogs-though even they argue back and forth on that.
 

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Jocoyn said: ".... Our observations have been that as as distance increases discrimination seems less reliable. The scent picture would have to change as distance increases by the sheer fact that heavier parts of it would travel less far than the lighter components. The raft theory, I understand, is less accepted though still the volatiles remain. Of course it is all fascinating. At which point is the dog just finding any person out there and not the specific person? Of course even discriminating human vs non human is a form of discrimination and upon the find there would be some matching-or could the dog possibly say "not me person" and reject if it was the wrong person. "

I would agree, in general... But environment, terrain etc while track is being laid and up until track is run and completed play a huge part in the actual trail outcome... I've watched my dogs run almost dead on footstep for footstep (Comparing gps tracks post find), and if watched them work trails parallel to the laid track but well off the actual foot fall... These trails are almost always laid in well contaminated areas (the trail I posted about earlier started in a campground area went deep into woods and back into busy campground area and along well traveled gravel fire road) so it is scent discrimination or my dogs would 'find' anyone who had crossed over their trail... This would include urban trails as well..

I run blind (single blind for me is when I know some component of the track, be it general area of ending, a landmark that is passed, or I have to 'break the blind' on a double blind... Double blind for me is just that, I have zero knowledge other than PLS of where subject is, often who it is, nor any other component of the trail) trails 40% of the time, double blind 40% and known/technical 20% on average with negatives thrown in the mix several times a month ... I have 2 dogs and both are run on separate trails.. So I personally believe, I get a good idea of how my dogs (not saying all dogs) run, and the distance they can operate in given conditions from the actual track...

I think alot of confusion comes from the difference between tracking and trailing.. Tracking is very close to actual track if not on top of it.. Trailing is recognized the dog can use whatever resources he needs to find the person, be it air or ground scent... My job as a SAR handler is to find that person and helpy dog however they find the strongest source of scent.. If that means while on the trail of the person the wind suddenly blasts them a whiff of the person and my dog pulls off the track and beelines to them because of that air scent, then that is what I do... Many strict tracking handler's would call that a fail, as would some organizations that certify dogs.. I call that an epic win and success.. I'm not tracking in sport (I do know this isn't what is being suggested, I'm just clarifying my perspective and reasoning)...

I certify through ASCT and IPWDA, as well as in house... I am both exhilarated and terrified when I get a call... I am not successful in all my trails, I have to break blind at times and I record most of my trails for reevaluation afterwards... I personally believe it is easier to train a trail dog before it becomes air scent as opposed to air scent before trail for the very purpose of the dog learning to lock down the specific scent on the ground, as opposed to riding air currents solely.. But again, these are just my personal observations and opinions...

I also often have 2 people hiding in their end spot, about 20 to 30ft away, the subject is the only one to socialize with the dog IF, they are chosen... Time and again my dogs will run to the correct person, even over a cherished person... Have they made mistakes? Absolutely.. Are they pretty consistent about whom they find? Yes..

I too am fascinated by scent and it's way of flowing and the dogs way of detecting it and following it... Also very curious as to Slamdunc thoughts on this matter :)

Great article reference Karin!
 

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The RCMP are freaking awesome at trailing /tracking (although that article wasn't about trailing specifically, it was an air scent find) and I use a similar style of training for my dogs... So glad that lady was found, great news
 

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Think I should have clarified a similar style of training that the RCMP use for teaching trailing.... Reread what I typed and it could have looked like I used helicopters, lol!
 
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