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Tracking, Trailing & Trapping: Non-Interchangeable Approaches to Finding your Missing Pet

Updated: Jan 1, 2019

There are a variety of ways to find missing pets across different terrain. There is off-leash trailing, city-tracking, suburban tracking, and even the use of drones. We have perfected these methods by using trailing dogs that are provided with a specific scent to follow in search of a lost pet. These dogs are cross-functionally trained, specializing in remains detection, and scent-specific trailing. Trailing means the dogs pick up the scent regardless of where it is - on the ground, on a building, on bushes and trees, or even in the air. Off-leash dogs can cover more ground and navigate more challenging terrain than a search dog tethered to a human; this is ideal for suburban and wilderness tracking.

City searches can be more challenging because the scent does not last as long due to scent contamination; as a result, posters and well-positioned cameras can be useful tools. However, searching for a pet in the city means there likely will not be predators such as coyote, and stray dogs often attract much attention. This can be a good thing. The problematic aspect of searching for a lost pet in the city is that the pet is more inclined to encounter people, some having less honorable intentions. But it can be done, successfully.

It is essential to keep in mind that everything in a dog’s home smells like all of the humans and animals who live in that home. Any scent article presented to the search dogs from that home is going to smell like all the people and animals who live there. If there’s only one missing animal from the house, my dogs utilize the scent article to find that one lost dog’s track off of the property. If you have used another dog from the same home in an attempt to find your missing dog, you have most likely left an additional scent trail and we may choose to introduce the dogs or pick another approach.

In addition to being an experienced search and rescue K9 handler, I 'm also experienced in drone technology and piloting. Drones can be especially useful to look straight down into overgrown fields, or checking lakes and ponds. They are also useful for mapping areas and spotting tracks in snow and mud. Each geographic landscape presents unique advantages as well as challenges – none of which are insurmountable.

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