We have very limited search and rescue dog resources in my area and I was wondering if a tracking dog has to be trained in either live scent tracking or cadaver tracking. Ideally I would like, if possible, to train my dog for both.


  1. b.w.

    Yes, dogs can be trained for both. It is not as common but doable. I have recently read a book “Hero dogs of 9/11” and several of those dogs were trained for both…

  2. varuncoo

    yes.!!! dogs are one of the most intellegent species dogs can automatically know and sense fear and danger

  3. nellana

    I have read what Dogjudge has said, and this is contrary to everything I have heard and read of S & R dogs. S & R dogs are taught to *ignore* the scent of cadavers, because they are looking for survivors in disasters. They are taught to ignore the scent of clothing, food, and suchlike because precious time would be lost in digging up clothing or the dead. (Pork is usually used to simulate the scent of a cadaver.) Cadaver dogs, on the other hand, are taught to *look* for cadavers, and the scent they have.

  4. koehlerdogtraining ©

    Oh my, there are several discussions possible with this question, but this is an answers forum … aw shucks.
    To answer your question: yes, you can train for a dual purpose dog.

  5. hanksimo

    Yes. You can train for both. Which is probably fine in your situation.
    I think trainers prefer to focus on one or the other, depending on the dog.
    Interesting anecdote – in disasters, some dog handlers notice that their search/rescue dogs seem to get disappointed and depressed when the dogs “rescue” a body… after it is too late. When this happens a lot, they switch to cadaver dogs.

  6. Pete B

    yes but with Professional Dog Trainer. Usually He takes a puppy then trains it for over a year.

  7. Spark of Insanity

    It is possible to do both, all that is needed is to train the dog to track a certain scent. In S&R ops, it is ideal if the K-9 unit has an article of the victims clothing. The same general principle applies to training a K-9 in cadaver search. Although it easier (if possible) to train a dog by sight rather than by smell as to accomodate an easier search and differential between the scent of a struggling body and one that has begun to decompose as in cadavers.

  8. Dogjudge

    First of all. I’m a tracking judge for the AKC and ASCA. I have quite a few friends in search & rescue. I’ve taught tracking for AKC, ASCA and Schutzhund for over 20 years.
    There is a variety of “tracking” out there. The ones that I judge for are one type. Dogs follow a path that has been put down by another person. There isn’t a human at the end. Dog is taught to follow the exact path.
    Mantrailing is very similar, but the dogs are allowed much more latitude, they don’t have to stay exactly on the track, and there is a human at the end.
    Search & Rescue and Cadaver work is a different type of tracking. In both the dog is most concerned about getting to the human as soon as possible. Following a specific trail is inconsequential.
    Imagine a U track. Each leg being 60 yards long. The Search & Rescue dogs would go from the start and right to the person. All of the other tracking dogs would follow each leg of the U to the end.
    Many of the “search” dogs used by police departments are really tracking dogs (I know I’ve trained some of them).
    Most of the search & rescue people end up specializing in various parts of search & rescue, cadaver training being one of them. The dog’s can be trained to do both.
    Yahoo actually has a tracking discussion group. You can join at http://www.tracking_dog@yahoo.com.
    By the way, a friend in Florida was the first to use one of his tracking dogs to become the first cancer detection dog.
    Sorry about going on so long.

  9. Cindy

    I believe it’s possible to train for both but honestly the answer depends more on your dog than what we say.
    I think it would be a very unique dog that could focus on both of these tasks equally and do equally well at them.
    I think you start down a training path and see where it leads you. Your dog’s natural abilities will tell you he or she has the talent, the drive and the focus to work at all, let alone at either or both of these jobs. Both are extremely demanding.
    I wish you luck and hope you are successful at one or both. With either, your dog will be a wonderful help to a person or family in need.

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