Introductory, main, and final section of classes.


Depending on the experience of the supervisor, the scope of the issues studied, and the complexity of the subjects, a course syllabus or plan should be developed.

The difference between the course syllabus and the plan is that in the first case the supervisor describes in detail not only his actions and those of his students during a class, but also describes each technique or exercise from a theoretical point of view. A course syllabus is generally prepared for group classes.

Let’s examine how a course syllabus is constructed.

First we collect some background information:

1. Subject of classes: Working on Basic Trading Course techniques;

2. The group consists of 6 students. The level of training of the dogs and trainers is identical.

3. Define the goal of the classes: Develop the dogs’ conditioned reflexes in response to the “Come”, “Heel”, “Sit” commands. Teach the clients to correctly use stimuli when working on the commands mentioned above.

4. Class No.;

5. Training points: Define based on goals;

6. Duration of classes – 2 hours;

7. Location of classes;

8. Time classes begin:

9. Method used to conduct class: Discussion with demonstration and practical exercise.



Sequential content of classes





Class Syllabus 

for student group No. 1

SUBJECT: Basic Obedience Course Techniques

Class No. 2: Develop the dogs’ initial conditioned reflexes in response to certain Basic Training Course commands.


1. Demonstrate the sequence of practicing certain Basic Training Course commands.

2. Teach clients to correctly use conditioned and unconditioned stimuli when practicing Basic Training Course commands;

Method: Demonstration with brief explanation, group practice;

Duration: 120 minutes.

Location: Training center


Training points:

1. “Come”

2. “Heel”

3. “Sit”


Equipment required for classes:

* small flags – 4 ea.,

* short leashes – for each dog;

* long leashes – for each dog;

* first aid kid;

* treats.


Class stages Jobs of class organizer and students

Technique theory and execution

Organizational section15 min. 1. Put together a group (without dogs), check attendance and readiness for the lesson, availability of equipment, treats;2. Brief on subject of the class, goal, and training points;

3. Brief on sequence of practicing training points and training regime;

4. Brief on safety while working with dogs;

5. Verify completion of homework assignment with each client.

6. Identify area and time for walking and exercising dogs, identify assembly area.






Training regime is …….

Safety statement




During dog walks, I observe the trainers. Indicate areas that need improvement. Give command to put the dogs on short leashes and assemble.


Main section of classes

90 min.


1st training point: “Come” command

30 min.




2nd training point: “Heel” command

30 min.

3rd training point “Sit” command

30 min.

1. Assemble the group in a single line with a distance of up to 5 m between students;2. Check completion of trainers’ homework assignment.

3. Point out errors.

4. Point out common errors committed by group and how to correct them.

5. Announce the first training point and begin work.

“Come” command

To work on this technique I line up the group in a single row (or the group disperses across the site). Give command to put dogs on long leashes and instruct trainers to give their dogs the “Go Play” command. At my instruction the trainers recall their dogs with the “Come” command.

Monitor dogs and trainers to make sure their actions are correct.

Monitor each trainer separately. One trainer calls his dog, and all the other trainers follow his example. I point out the first trainer’s errors.

Define training regime. (Each trainer will perform 3 exercises; five pairings in each exercise; in all, the dog must “come” 15 times (during the entire class).  Allow the trainers to walk their dogs for 3 -4 minutes between exercises.

Call the group together. Summarize progress on the first training point. Indicate positive and negative aspects of each trainer individually and of the group as a whole. Analyze errors.

6. Announce second training point. (Methodology is the same)


Briefly give the theoretical basis of the technique (conditioned and unconditioned stimuli). Indicate what kind of reaction in the dog is used to develop the skill. Explain and then demonstrate (myself or using an experienced trainer) how the technique should be performed.


Final part

15 min.

1. Assemble the group without dogs;2. Review the subject, goal, and training points;

3. Indicate how the lesson objective will be reached;

4. Note the performance of each trainer, his mistakes and how they can be corrected;

5.Give each trainer his individual assignment;

6.Indicate time and place of the next class, subject matter to be covered and duration;

7. Announce end of class.


Distinguishing characteristics of group method

The primary distinguishing characteristic of the group class is that the supervisor prepares a syllabus or plan specifying the basic issues to be covered during the lesson. Students respond to the supervisor’s instructions. The supervisor is in complete control of the lesson beginning with the organization section to the final portion.

The more effective training method of the group lesson will be to give a practical demonstration with brief explanation at the beginning of the lesson.



1. Monitoring the group and correcting errors in a timely manner;

2. Teaching the dogs not to react to strangers and to calmly accept each other’s presence;

3. Ensuring that the imitative method is used in certain cases.

Various scenarios can be used during a group lesson, depending on the material being covered. For example, when working on the “Heel” command, the trainers can be deployed in two rows facing each other so the dogs walk by one another when they start moving. This will teach the dogs to heel in the presence of external stimuli. When practicing the “Stay”, the dogs can be left next to each other. The task of the trainer in that case is to focus the attention of his dog on himself, not allow the dog to become distracted, and to have the dog react quickly and precisely to his commands. The lessons will be that much more productive, if the supervisor prepares for the class thoroughly and with imagination. It is important to understand that outside of a training situation, a dog encounters a wide range of stimuli, but that in any situation the handler must be able to control the dog. Group classes provide the best opportunity to work on control of the dog in a wide variety of situations.


Conducting classes using individual assignments.

If more than one trainer is present, each class begins with assembling trainers and dogs and a thorough briefing. The homework assignment is reviewed. Each trainer’s individual work plan is defined as well as the work regime and practice time allotted. However, the class supervisor regulates the lesson, determines times for walking and exercising the dogs, assembling, etc. He approaches each trainer during the latter’s individual work and monitors his and the dog’s performance. This becomes the dominant method when the supervisor has confidence in the student’s practical skills. The advantages of the individual method become clear during work on specialized techniques. Before paying attention to an individual trainer, the supervisor clearly indicates to the remaining students what they are supposed to be doing.

Brief the students on the individual plan scenario and examine its main sections.


Individual classes

Individual classes are different in that the instructor devotes his entire attention to one trainer. The instructor must make the trainer understand the sequence of activities and the use of conditioned and unconditioned stimuli. He must give a precise description of each command and explain the different situations in which it can be used. For example, the “Sit” command – initially the dog sits at the trainer’s leg in exchange for a treat, but later it will sit at the trainer’s first verbal command or hand signal out of interest or as a game at a distance of 30 – 50 meters. It is important to cultivate the trainer’s interest in the result. Individual classes also provide the instructor with the opportunity to work independently with the dog, demonstrating and explaining different training aspects while working directly with the dog.

In preparing a dog for a test, it is better to conduct the final class individually.


Methodology. Attachment 1 – click here to download..

Methodology. Attachment 2 – click here to download..


Methods used to prepare working dog specialists


Success in the preparation of working dog specialists depends to a significant degree on the choice of training methods.

A training method is what the lesson supervisor uses, relying on the conscientiousness and energy of his students, to arm them with knowledge and skills, and to develop the necessary personal qualities as well.

The teaching methods used in classes on the various aspects of raising and training working dogs have been developed and assessed over the course of many years. The main methods include the following:

* lecture;

* discussion;

* practical demonstration with brief explanation;

* exercise (practice);

* practical work with dogs;

* independent work by the students.


Any training method is a way for the instructor and students to work together.

Lecture. Used both during classes on theoretical topics and during dog training sessions. But this method is most important in the study of theoretical topics. The lecture is generally used when introducing new topics. During the lecture the instructor has the opportunity to explain the new material in an easy-to-understand way. Moreover, he doesn’t merely restate the content of the textbook, but passes on his own knowledge and practical experience in working with dogs. Various types of visual aids are widely used during the lecture: diagrams, posters, mock-ups, slide shows, etc.

Discussion. The supervisor, basing his presentation on the knowledge and practical experience of his students, helps them to master the new material by the skillful use of questions. The discussion is a more interactive method of study than the lecture.

Depending on the level of the students, and the purpose and content of the material, the goal of the discussion can be to impart new knowledge, to review and reinforce material covered previously, and to assess whether the students have mastered the material covered in the topic or section.

Practical demonstration with brief explanation. This method of teaching is widely used in dog training classes. The essence of this method is simply, “Do as I do.” The method stimulates the trainers’ interest in working with dogs and ensures good results in educating dog trainers.

A practical demonstration with a brief explanation in preparing working dog specialists is used in the following cases:

1. At the beginning of the training course, to provide the students with a clear understanding of the capabilities of a well-trained dog, to stimulate their interest in working with dogs. A good demonstration promotes love for their chosen profession among young trainers and elicits the desire to achieve the same kind of results in training their dogs as they observed in the demonstration.

2. When teaching how to correctly execute a technique beginning with the first practice sessions.

3. When introducing new variations in each training technique in order to teach the correct methodology for introducing complexity in the training while taking into account the dog’s individual characteristics.

During each subsequent training class to remind the students how to execute basic and specialized training techniques.

Exercise (practice). The trainers’ practical skills are developed through exercises – numerous repetitions of dog training techniques. The link between the practical method and the method of using practical exercises with dogs is important. Therefore, the exercise, as a training tool, is used after a demonstration accompanied by a brief explanation.

Both individual and group exercises are used in training working dog specialists. For the individual exercises the instructor separates the students and situates them at specially designated sites and works with each of them – he both calls them to him and moves from one to another.  Individual exercises give better results in teaching training techniques although they require more time than group exercises.

During group exercises, all the students in the group (8 – 10 individuals) simultaneously practice the skills being taught. Group exercises are feasible during the dog’s basic obedience training, especially during the initial period. Group exercises make it possible for the students to learn the basic rules and methods of performing the training techniques in the shortest possible time. In addition, the students are able to observe each other during these exercises and benefit from each other’s experience.

To augment the knowledge and skills of the students as well as to improve the dogs’ working qualities after the dog training course ends, practice sessions are conducted. Practice sessions are held under conditions approximating actual on-the-job conditions.

Practical work of the students with dogs. In this method, the students train their dogs, using the theoretical knowledge and practical skills they have gained. This method helps to achieve two main goals: teach the students long-lasting skills in the training and utilization of working dogs; train dogs for utilization on the job.

The students’ practical work with dogs is carried out in groups of 8 – 10 individuals at designated sites under the instructor’s supervision.

At the beginning of the class the instructor presents the trainers with the overall task and then gives each trainer specific tasks based on the training level of their assigned dogs.

When assigning specific tasks, the class supervisor determines:

* who uses which techniques, how many, and where each student should practice;

* who works with whom in pairs on specialized training techniques, and who is the senior partner;

* sequence of basic and specialized training techniques to practice;

* time of beginning and termination of the session, especially the tracking class;

If required, assistants are appointed to help in developing aggression in the dog.

At the beginning of the class the students’ knowledge of certain theoretical training issues and their ability to perform techniques previously covered should be checked.

The instructor’s work during practical exercises with the students and their dogs depends on the goal and content of the lesson, the number of techniques to be practiced, as well as the training level of the trainers and their dogs.

At the appointed time, the supervisor gives a critique of the class. In doing so, he uses information obtained during his personal monitoring of the students and from the reports of the trainers themselves.

Independent work by the students. This is a method in which the instructor gives the student an assignment and monitors their work to expand their knowledge or to improve their practical skills. This has great significance in preparing specialists in training and raising working dogs. Independent work by the students has broad application, especially in classes on dog training theory.

First aid kit


A first aid kit is necessary to administer first aid to a dog prior to seeing a veterinarian.

This should include:

* thermometer;

* scissors, preferably curved to cut fur;

* syringe;

* eye droppers;

* rubber hose

* gauze bandages (2 – 3 packages);

* absorbent sterile cotton (1 package);

* cotton for heat compress (1 package);

* oil silk or paraffin paper for heat compress;

* 5% alcohol-based iodine solution (20 – 25 ml);

* potassium permanganate (10 g);

* 10 % synthomycine liniment (25 g);

* boric acid (20 g);

* castor oil (100 mg);

* brilliant green (20 ml);

* 3% hydrogen peroxide solution (50 ml).



Infectious diseases


Rabies. Infectious disease caused by a virus transmitted in the saliva from bites by infected animals. Infection is also possible from contact of infected saliva with the skin and mucous membranes that have small wounds, cuts, and other injuries. Primary symptoms:  in the furious form of rabies the dog’s behavior can change – some dogs become sluggish; they try to hide and only reluctantly respond to their masters’ call or not at all. Some dogs become markedly affectionate; they try to lick their masters’ hands and face. The infected dog has difficulty taking food and water, and later is unable to swallow due to muscle paralysis.  The dog’s lower jaw hangs open, and foam comes out of its mouth. It becomes cross-eyed. A general state of excitation (fits) is observed; the dog attempts to run away and bite both other animals and people (aggression). Then, excitation and aggression are replaced with apathy and severe exhaustion. Gradually, increased paralysis of the rear extremities and tail accompanies muscle paralysis in the throat, tongue, and other organs, and on day 6 – 11 the animal dies.

Excitation and aggression are not observed in the dumb (paralytic) form of rabies. The primary symptom of the disease is muscle paralysis accompanied by drooling and difficulty in swallowing. Consequently, the owner might suspect that the dog is choking on a bone. Death occurs 2 – 4 days following the increase in paralysis and loss of energy.

There is also an atypical form of rabies that does not have the excitation and aggression stages but is accompanied by emaciation and sometimes gastroenteritis. In the abortive form, the disease symptoms disappear at the beginning of the excitation and aggression stage (this form of the disease has not been thoroughly studied), but in its recurring form, after an improvement in the dog’s overall condition, the disease again begins to progress and the animal dies.

Prevention. Strictly comply with the established rules on dog care and vaccinate dogs against rabies.  Immediately notify a veterinarian, medical facility, and the police in each case that a dog has been bitten by a wild animal, dog, or cat, or if there is any suspicion that an animal might have rabies. Isolate suspicious animals or any animal bitten by a stray dog, cat, or wild animal.


Distemper. Acute, infectious disease caused by a virus. Puppies and young dogs are most susceptible to the disease. The disease may take several forms: hyperacute, acute, and abortive. In its hyperacute form distemper is characterized by a temperature spike (up to 41°C), refusal to eat, comatose state, and death within 2 – 3 days. The primary symptoms of acute distemper are the following: initial loss of appetite, overall malaise, fever up to 41°C (over the course of 10 – 15 days), fatigability while working, vomiting in some dogs, slight diarrhea, and mucous discharge from the nose. In some dogs a drop in body temperature may be noted, and the animal may begin to recover. However, subsequently the temperature will again increase and an abundant mucous and later a pus discharge from the eyes (eyelids become encrusted) and nose around the nostrils appears (dried pus). The nose can become blocked with pus (the dog sneezes and rubs its nose on objects). Gradually the symptoms increase: a cough appears; some dogs develop diarrhea. Red spots and pimples may appear as well as dried crusty areas that slough off. Overall weakness of the animal increases; the dog refuses to eat, and then symptoms of damage to the nervous system appear (seizures, muscle paralysis).  Some dogs exhibit paralysis of the hind legs (the dog is unable to rise), tail, and extremities. If the dog continues to weaken, the animal can die. In puppies up to two months of age distemper can progress without a fever and can be atypical (low-grade disease development). In the abortive form, the animal recovers after 1 – 2 days of general malaise.

Prevention. Make sure the dog does not have contact with stray dogs or dogs belonging to strangers. At the direction of a veterinarian, vaccinate annually against distemper.


If the dog has distemper – like symptoms, see a veterinarian immediately.


Infectious hepatitis. Acute infectious disease caused by a virus. Primary symptoms: fever up to 41.5°C, progressive malaise, loss of appetite, and then refusal to eat, vomiting mixed with bile, dullness or yellowness of the mucous membranes in the eyes and mouth; dark brown urine; the animal lies and stands with its front paws spread apart.

If these symptoms are exhibited, see a veterinarian immediately.

Helminthoses: Infections caused by parasitic worms.

In the majority of cases, the diseases occur in chronic form and are characterized by digestive disorders, a perverted appetite, emaciation of the animal, degradation or loss of working capacity, in some cases vomiting, intense itching in the anal regions (the dog scoots his rear end across the ground and surrounding objects) and other disease symptoms. Worms can slow growth and development in puppies and in cases of severe infestation can lead to death (blockage of the intestinal tract by parasites, general intoxication). Some worms infecting dogs can be the source of infections for other animals and man.

The most common worm-related illnesses in dogs include:


Trematodosis: (opisthorchiasis, alariidosis, etc.) Caused by small trematodes – flukes living in the bile ducts of the liver, pancreas, stomach, and small intestine in dogs.

An infestation of trematodes in the dog occurs primarily from eating raw freshwater fish, which is a carrier of trematode larvae.


Cestodiasis (dibothriocephalus, teneasis, echinococcus, dipilidiose, etc.). Caused by cestodes – tapeworms, that can reach several meters in length. Adult (sexually mature) worms reside in the small intestine of dogs, and their larvae reside and develop in the bodies of fish (intermediate hosts – small crustaceans, cyclops crab, etc.), in various animals and in humans. Dogs can become infected with cestodes by ingesting infected raw freshwater fish, the raw internal organs of domestic and wild animals, as well as infected fleas and lice.


Nematodiasis (toxascaridosis, toxacarosis, toxocariasis, uncinariasis, etc.). Caused by roundworms – nematodes varying in length from several millimeters to 18 and more centimeters. The adults (sexually mature) live in the stomach and small intestine of dogs and other animals, and their larvae develop externally in eggs which are expelled in the dog’s stool. When dogs eat food and drink water infested with nematodes, the larvae develop into sexually mature nematodes inside the body of the dog. Some larvae (toxocara) undergo a complex developmental cycle during migration inside the dog’s body. Other larvae (toxascaris) complete their development cycle in the dog’s small intestine. Intrauterine infection of the puppies is possible.

If the dog exhibits symptoms of worm infestation (loss of weight despite normal feeding, undiagnosed vomiting), or has worms or their segments in its stool, see a veterinarian for a laboratory exam of a stool sample and deworming.


To prevent helminthiasis, have a veterinarian conduct an annual analysis of the dog’s stool specimen to determine whether worm eggs are present and to deworm the animal. Make sure that the dog does not eat foot scraps and garbage during walks. Do not feed the dog raw freshwater fish.


As long as these rules are followed, dogs will not present any health hazard for other animals or people.


Ringworm. A disease of the skin and its derivatives cause by dermophytes (fungi). Primary symptoms: initially, hair fragility may be noticed; round and later oval areas without hair appear on the skin covered with gray scales and incrustations. Pus often appears, which forms crusting and scabs when it dries. In contrast to mange, ringworm causes only slight itching or none at all.

Scarcoptic mange.  Disease of the skin caused by sarcoptic mites. Primary symptoms: at the point the scarcoptic mite enters the skin, pimples form first, then blisters filled with liquid. Because of itching, the dog scratches these areas and opens the blisters. Liquid from the blisters makes the dog’s hair clump together. When the liquid dries on the skin, it forms incrustations and scabs. The hair falls out; the skin thickens and wrinkles. In severe cases of mange, the dogs loses condition, becomes lethargic, and unable to work. In neglected cases, the dog may die from malnutrition.

Ear mange. A disease of the skin on the inside surface of the earflap, in the outer auditory canal and the eardrum, caused by ear mites. Primary symptoms: the dog rubs its ears on objects, shakes its head, and scratches its ears with its claws. Subsequently, serous liquid is discharged from the ear. Later purulent ichorous liquid is discharged, which covers the lower portions of the ear. Crusting and gray or brown-colored scabs form on the skin of the ear. In neglected cases, the eardrum can burst, and the middle ear can become inflamed.

Demodectic mange (red mange). Disease of the skin caused by a parasitic mite living in the sebaceous glands and hair follicles. Several forms of red mange are recognized: scaly, impetiginous and non-symptomatic. Primary symptoms: skin on lips, eyebrows, around earflaps, on extremities, and occasionally on the body is damaged. In the scaly form of red mange, hair will fall out in these locations. The skin thickens, acquires a bluish-gray or copper-red color, and crusting (scaling) forms. In the impetiginous form, hair also falls out; pimples form that later turn into pustules that discharge liquid. The skin thickens and acquires a reddish color. Some dogs may exhibit both the scaly and impetiginous forms of red mange. The non-symptomatic form is characterized by the presence of demodectic mites in the skin without causing any apparent symptoms. In neglected and severe cases the dog can die without treatment.


Fleas, lice. Parasites that live on dogs if the animals are not regularly treated against these insects. Primary symptoms: itching, presence of cuts and abrasions from scratching; sometimes loss of hair in certain areas. If fleas are present, the dog will attempt to catch them with its teeth (characteristic clicking). Fleas can move from dogs to humans causing the skin to itch. Sometimes it is not possible to locate fleas on a dog despite clear evidence of their presence: the dog is fidgety and chews at its fur. There are dark dried-up particles (dried excretions of fleas and blood) on its skin and in its hair. To check for the presence of fleas, these particles can be placed in a test tube or other glass container with a small quantity of water. If the water turns a reddish color, the dog has fleas.

If the dog exhibits symptoms of ringworm, mange, or demodicosis, and insects are found, see a veterinarian. An effective measure to deal with an infestation of parasites on dogs is to bathe the dog with a medicated shampoo.


Ticks. In some places, especially in the South, ticks attach themselves to dogs during warm weather.

Ticks attach themselves to dogs’ bodies, pierce the skin and suck blood. A massive tick infestation can cause the dog to become exhausted (dogs lose condition and their ability to work). In milder infestations the dog becomes restless and agitated. In addition, ticks can be carriers of certain infectious diseases. Usually, ticks attach themselves to the area around ears, eyes, in between toes, and on other parts of the body that the dog cannot access.

The main way to control ticks is to examine the dog daily during tick season and remove and destroy the ticks. If a tick is deeply embedded, do not pull it off, since the tick’s head will remain in the body and can cause infection. It is better to apply an iodine solution or mineral oil to the tick, which will lead to its death and falling off. In cases of severe infestation, the dog is treated with products that kill ticks.

During tick season it is better to keep the dog out of infested areas (bushes, etc.).


Paroviral enteritis. Acute infectious disease caused by a virus. Primary symptoms: severe vomiting, then diarrhea over the course of several days. The stool is runny and yellowish gray to bloody with a sharply foul odor. Some individuals exhibit a fever at the beginning of the illness up to 39.5 – 41°C. Subsequently, the fever subsides.

Puppies often suffer from a virulent form of the disease, in which the dog quickly becomes exhausted, exhibits vomiting and bloody diarrhea. The puppy may die after 1 -2 days.

If these symptoms are noted, see a veterinarian immediately.

In concluding this brief description of the main diseases in dogs and their first aid measures, we need to call the attention of dog owners to the following.

During treatment, a sick dog needs proper care and feeding. The dog cannot be required to work; it must be closely monitored; and a special diet is administered in the case of certain diseases. Following the treatment plan is an essential part of caring for a sick animal. Therefore, when turning to a veterinarian for assistance, also take advantage of the opportunity to clarify how a sick dog should be treated and kept; when and what kind of food it should receive, and whether the dog is able to work (participate in training).

We note as a reminder that when a dog is ill, it is not advisable to rely on one’s own experience and the advice of other dog owners. It might be better to see a veterinarian sooner rather than later.

Internal non-infectious diseases




Rhinitis. Inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose. May occur from the inhalation of smoke, hot air, and various irritating agents; hyperthermia, entry into the nose by plant particles and other foreign bodies, and as a consequence of infectious and other diseases. Primary symptoms: the dogs shakes its head, scratches at its nose, sneezes, frequently licks its lips, mucous or purulent discharge from its nose. In severe cases the dog may experience difficulty in breathing.

First aid: clean the nostrils with a cue tip, apply a 1 – 2% solution of menthol ointment to the dog’s nasal passages.

In the case of infectious rhinitis and other severe cases, see a veterinarian.


Stomatitis. Inflammation of the oral tissues. Caused by eating hot food, dental disease, infectious and non-infectious diseases. Primary symptoms: initial redness and edema of the mucous membranes in the mouth followed by the appearance of liquid-filled blisters, ulcers, bleeding of the gums, and halitosis in prolonged stomatitis.

First aid: flush the inside of the mouth using a syringe and a weak (pale pink) solution of potassium permanganate or a 2% – solution of boric acid; apply a solution of iodine to the ulcers. Put the dog on a minimal diet for 1 – 2 days. Then give the dog a thin soup for several days. If this does not cure the stomatitis, see a veterinarian. In severe cases of stomatitis (ulcers on the mucous membrane, poor appetite, bad breath), see a veterinarian as soon as possible.


Gastroenteritis. Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Caused by giving excessively cold, hot, or spoiled food, salt poisoning (from feeding too much salt) and poisoning by other substances, infectious diseases, especially distemper. Primary symptoms: acute gastroenteritis is characterized by a loss of appetite, overall sluggishness, and lethargy. Later, vomiting will appear. On the 2 – 3rd day the vomiting may have blood in it. A lack of energy is evident. If diarrhea appears (sometimes with blood), there will be a sudden decrease in body temperature. In cases of chronic gastroenteritis, the dog will exhibit a poor appetite, belching, vomiting, foul-smelling stool with remains of undigested food.

First aid: put on a minimum diet, induce vomiting by flushing the stomach with an excessive amount of water; cleanse the intestinal tract (give 2 tablespoons of castor oil, administer enema).


Bronchial pneumonia – inflammation of the bronchial tubes and lungs. Occurs due to severe hyperthermia (swimming in cold water), prolonged inhalation of dust, smoke, and accompanies severe infectious diseases (distemper, etc.). Primary symptoms: exhaustion and fatigue, poor appetite, unproductive cough – dry and shallow, fever up to 40 – 41°C. Subsequently the cough becomes productive or “wet”, and lingering. Mucous or mucopurulent discharges from the nose appear; the pulse and breathing become more rapid, and the overall condition deteriorates. In the absence of timely and competent treatment, the dog could die.

First aid: clean nasal passages of mucopurulent discharges (as in rhinitis); give sulfadimine or norsulfazol internally (1 g three times per day), warm milk, beef broth, and boiled meat. See a veterinarian.


Rickets. Impaired metabolism, accompanied by a softening and incorrect growth of the bones. Caused by a lack of vitamins D and A, calcium, phosphorous, or their incorrect ratios, as well as insufficient ultraviolet light (kenneling dogs without access to the sun). As a rule, puppies and young dogs are affected by rickets. Primary symptoms:  bowing of the bones, their swelling, especially in joints, increased tendency to fracture, dysorexia or unnatural appetite (eating dirt, licking plastered walls), disruption of digestion (constipation, diarrhea).

First aid: begin treatment immediately under the supervision of a veterinarian. A primary goal of the dog owner is to prevent rickets since in a number of cases treatment does not result in complete recovery.


Obesity: Excessive fat in subcutaneous tissue and internal organs. Caused by feeding products containing a large amount of carbohydrates (bread, potatoes) and sugar (liver, bread rolls, etc.) and a sedentary lifestyle (lack of regular exercise, training). Most often observed in older, indoor dogs. Primary symptoms: large belly, thick folds on back, rapid fatigability and labored breathing during light exercise, frequent constipation.

First aid: Sharply reduce food rich in carbohydrates; eliminate sugar and sweets from diet. Feed raw lean meat, gradually lengthen walks, conduct regular training sessions.

Ask your veterinarian for advice on feeding and keeping a dog.


Poisoning. Serious illness caused by toxic substances or by excessive salt consumption with food. Primary symptoms: overall exhaustion and fatigue (in some cases of poisoning – general agitation), vomiting (often bloody), refusal to eat, foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, strong thirst, convulsions, paralysis. Sudden death is possible.

First aid for poisoning: elicit vomiting to empty stomach. Then, give a glass of laxative salt solution (one tablespoon of magnesium sulfate or sodium sulfate – to a glass of water). Give the dog milk, water, and strong cold tea. See a veterinarian as soon as possible.

First aid for salt poisoning: give the dog milk, water, strong cold tea. Force it to drink 2 – 3 tablespoons of castor oil or liquid paraffin (laxative), administer enema. See a veterinarian as soon as possible.

First aid for snake bites: squeeze out the poison from the wound as much as possible; if the snake bite is on an extremity – tie a tourniquet above the bite. Give the dog strong cold tea. See a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Infectious and non-infectious diseases of the dog


Diseases of the dog, which cannot be transmitted to other animals, are called non-infectious. The primary causes of non-infectious diseases are violations of the rules for the care, feeding, and utilization of the dog. For example, keeping dogs in cold, damp places can cause respiratory diseases and giving them rotten food will cause digestive problems.

Diseases of the dog, which can be transmitted to other animals, are called infectious (invasive). They can be caused by various bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites and worms. The sources of infectious diseases can be other sick animals and their feces, urine, sweat, saliva or pathogens discharged directly from the dog’s skin. The infection of healthy dogs by diseased animals occurs through direct contact, disease vectors (insects, etc.), as well as by infected dog care equipment, soil, water, and food.

The incubation period is the time between infection by the pathogen and the appearance of symptoms, which can last from several days to several months. The duration of the incubation depends on the type of infectious disease, the number of pathogens that entered the body, and the organism’s resistance.

After recovery from an infectious disease, the organism becomes immune to further infection for a certain time. This is the basis for preventative vaccinations against rabies, distemper, and other infectious diseases. The vaccines introduced into the body do not cause diseases, but ensure the development of immunity to them.


Non-infectious diseases include the following surgical diseases:

Wounds. Open wounds of tissue and organs accompanied by loss of integrity of the skin or mucous membranes. Primary symptoms include bleeding and open wounds (puncture wounds can have small openings).

First aid: if there is no bleeding (bleeding from small wounds can stop by itself), clean the skin around the wound with a cotton or gauze pad, saturated with a 3% – solution of hydrogen peroxide or a 2% – ammonia solution. The area then can be clipped or shaved without prior soaping. Clean the wound of dirt, hair, and caked blood by wiping carefully with sterile gauze wetted with alcohol and then apply an iodine solution. A protective bandage made from sterile gauze is then placed over the wound. An iodine solution can be directly applied to small, clean wounds and adjacent areas and then covered with a protective bandage.

A pressure bandage is used to stop bleeding. A bandage keeps a wound clean. Apply it carefully with the correct tension. This creates pressures on the wound and keeps the bandage in place. However, excessive pressure from the bandage is not acceptable, since this could disrupt blood flow in the area of the wound. The ends of the bandage should be tied with the same pressure as the rest of the bandage. Do not tie the bandage above the wound since the knot could irritate the wound when the dog moves. Do not place a wet bandage on the wound, since it might shrink when it dries and put too much pressure on the wound.

When bandaging the body, neck, or head, use a bandage with numerous ends. For this purpose, several holes are cut in a wide bandage folded in 3 – 4 layers or in clean fabric. A narrow bandage or strip of fabric of the required length is inserted through each hole and stretched and then tied. Using these ends, the bandage is secured over the wound.

In the case of severe bleeding, a tourniquet (rubber tube, string, belt, rolled-up fabric) should be applied for up to 2 hours. If wounds with severe bleeding are located on the body or other parts of the body where a tourniquet cannot be applied, a pressure bandage should be used. In order to apply even more pressure on a bleeding wound, a hard object (piece of Styrofoam, wood, etc.) wrapped in a bandage or clean cloth can be placed on top of the wound. If none of these items is available, apply pressure on the wound with your hand and hold it in position until the bleeding stops.

When the bleeding stops, treat the wound and the surrounding area according to the method described above. To keep the dog from ripping off the bandage, put a muzzle over the mouth and put boots made from a thick material over the paws.

If the wounds are deep and extensive, see a veterinarian after applying first aid.


Contusions – closed wounds to the tissue. Primary symptoms: soreness, swelling, localized elevated body temperature (result of damaged blood vessels).

First aid: apply  an iodine solution on the bruised area (shave the hair in case of severe bruising). Ice the bruise for 1 -2 days (use an ice or snow pack, cold compresses). If swelling does not go down after two days, see a veterinarian.

It is a good idea to ice and wrap joint contusions.  If the dog is limping badly, put a split on the extremity and see a veterinarian.


Dislocation – an injury to the joint, with separation where the two bones meet. Primary symptoms: sudden pain, swelling in the joint area, deformity in the appearance and function of the joint, shortening or lengthening of the extremity, limping.

Bone fractures – a break in the continuity of the bone. Primary symptoms:  Incomplete fractures are characterized by loss of mobility and function and intense pain when pressure is applied to the fracture location.  Complete fractures are characterized by intense pain at the site of the fracture (the dog is unable to put weight on the extremity and holds it in the air), by the lack of stability and scraping sounds of the bones when moved. In compound fractures the bone protrudes through the skin, damaging muscle tissue and skin.

First aid: after ensuring that the bones are in the proper position, thoroughly bandage the area of the fracture. Wrap a layer of cotton around the area and then place the splint (strong sticks, shingles, firm wire mesh, etc. and bandage. The splint needs to be long enough to cover the length of the fracture, as well as the adjacent bones.

In open fractures the wound must be treated. In order to leave access to the wound for subsequent treatments, place the bandage so as to leave an open section (window) next to the wound.

After administering first aid, see a veterinarian immediately. In order to prevent the dog from removing the splint in the case of fractures and removing bandages covering contusions and wounds, a protective halo should be fashioned from cardboard or other strong, flexible materials.

Limping caused by splinters and long toe nails. Caused by small, sharp metal and wooden fragments (nails, wire, pieces of wood, etc.) entering the soft tissues of the paws as well as allowing the toe nails to grow too long. Primary symptoms: varying severity of limping from pressure on the injured paw. Examination shows symptoms of inflammation around the splinter and elongated toe nails (swelling, sensitivity around the splinter and nail wall), and occasionally bleeding or discharge of pus.

First aid: remove the splinter, trim the nail, and apply an iodine solution to the wound or an antibiotic ointment. In the case of severe limping, see a veterinarian. Do not allow the dog’s toe nails to grow too long.


Eye injury. Caused by contusions, punctures, foreign bodies, etc.

First aid: flush the injured eye with clean water using a syringe or cotton gauze. Remove any foreign bodies with the gauze and cover with a bandage. Take the dog to a veterinarian.


Conjunctivitis. (Inflammation of the conjunctiva). Occurs when dust, hair, insects, or other foreign bodies, as well as smoke and disease causing microbes get into the eye. Primary symptoms: the dog is afraid of light (the affected eye is closed or partly closed), redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, watering of the eyes, and sometimes a pus discharge. Often the eyelids becomes crusted with mucus or pus (eye is closed, the dog cannot open its eyelids), and the dog scratches at its eye.

First aid: Carefully clean the conjunctiva and adjacent area and remove the mucous and pus with a cotton or gauze pad soaked in a 3% – solution of boric acid. See a veterinarian.


Burns: Damage to tissues caused by exposure to high temperatures or chemicals (acids, alkalis). There are three different degrees of burns. First degree burns cause a reddening of the skin, swelling, and slight pain. Second degree burns cause blisters filled with a watery liquid (serous exudate). A third degree burn involves tissue death or charring of the skin and underlying tissues.

First aid: to treat burns from exposure to high temperatures (boiling water, etc.) thoroughly wet the burned area 5 – 6 times in a row with a 5% – aqueous solution of potassium permanganate. Repeat 3 – 4 times after 1 – 2 hours. If potassium permanganate is not available, apply a 5% alcohol solution of tannin, vegetable or fish oil. To facilitate the discharge of tissue decay products, water the dog more often. For an acid burn, wash the injured area for 5 – 6 minutes with water. Then apply a napkin soaked in a 10% – aqueous solution of baking – soda. For alkali burns flush for 5 – 6 minutes with water and apply a napkin soaked in a 3% – solution of citric acid or a 2% – solution of acetic acid. See a veterinarian.


Cold injury – injury to tissue caused by prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures. There are three degrees of cold injury. The symptoms are almost identical to the corresponding burn degrees.

First aid: take the dog to a warm place and vigorously rug the affected area. If an extremity or the dog’s tail has frostbite, place them in warm water and gradually add hot water. Take the affected extremity or tail out of the hot water, dry with a cloth, massage, and wrap with gauze. If no warm enclosed area is available, massage the affected area vigorously and at length with a wool mitten to reestablish blood flow.

After administering first aid to the dog, see a veterinarian.

Eczema – a skin condition. Eczema can be acute or chronic, dry or oozing. It is caused by irritation of the skin (scratching and other mechanical impacts on the skin, frequent washing, especially with detergents and subsequent insufficient rinsing with clean warm water, prolonged use of creams and liniments, etc.) and various internal diseases (gastritis, enteritis, and other diseases of the intestinal tract, liver, kidneys). Primary symptoms: acute eczema – red discoloration (noticeable in dogs with non-pigmented skin), appearance of blisters, pustules, oozing scales and flaking which later fall off. In the majority of case the affected areas itch intensely (the dog scratches and chews these areas).  Chronic eczema – formation of papules, scaling, and sloughing of the epidermis, hair loss, intensive itching in the affected areas. The course of the disease is lengthy.

First aid: Clip the dog’s fur in the affected area. Wash with soap and wipe with a dry, clean cloth or pad. In the case of acute eczema, apply a 1% – alcohol solution of brilliant green. In the case of chronic eczema apply a zinc ointment. See a veterinarian.


Inflammation of the outer ear can be caused by cold water, insects, mites, and other foreign bodies entering the auditory canal as well as by an accumulation of wax. This can also occur as a complication of distemper. Primary symptoms: itching and sensitivity in the ear (the dog will scratch the ear, hold its head in the direction of the affected ear and shake it), excretion from the ear of a bad-smelling dark or yellowish brown discharge.

First aid: remove foreign bodies and wax from the outer auditory canal using cotton cue tips, slightly wetted with hydrogen peroxide. Then dry the outer auditory canal with dry cue tips. See a veterinarian.


Examination of a sick dog. Basic first aid.


Examination of the dog.

It is best to examine the dog during daylight hours in good natural light, which will make it possible to identify insignificant abnormalities that in poor lighting might pass unnoticed.

The examination should begin with general observation of the dog, preferably in the same area where it is normally kept. Pay attention to the dog’s behavior, its reaction to the approach of its master, to the position of its body when standing, lying, sitting, and in motion; and its appetite when given food. Only after forming a general picture of the dog’s condition, should you begin to examine its individual organs.


  a. proper muzzling; b. improper muzzling

Without muzzling as shown above, the dog could bite if any part of the examination causes pain or the actions of the examiner elicit suspicion in the dog. With the jaws reliably immobilized, the dog can be quietly and carefully examined for the presence of skin abnormalities, swellings and wounds, joint mobility, pain, and tendon condition. Mucous membranes of the eyes of mouth cavity are examined. Pay attention to the condition of the dog’s stool and urine and note how the dog urinates and defecates, as well as the condition of its sensory organs.

Under no circumstances should the examiner place unprotected hands in the dog’s mouth if there is any suspicion of rabies.

Taking the dog’s temperature. The dog’s nose can give a rough indication of body temperature. If the dog’s temperature is normal, the nose is usually moist and slightly cool to the touch, which can be determined by touching it lightly with the back of the hand. If the dog has a fever, the nose feels dry and hot to the touch. However, only a lengthy and significant fever can cause these symptoms. In addition, one must also realize that after a lengthy illness, for example; pneumonia or an acute form of distemper, the dog’s nose will remain dry even though the body temperature might be normal.

A dog’s temperature is taken rectally. The normal temperature of an adult dog is 38 – 39° C. and up to 39.5° for a puppy. The temperature will increase during a serious illness. The temperature will also be elevated during intense muscular activity. Therefore, in such cases the dog’s temperature should only be taken after rest.


Taking the dog’s pulse. A dog’s pulse can be taken by counting heartbeats by placing the palm of the hand directly on the left side of the chest behind the shoulder blade or on the femoral artery in the groin area. The femoral artery feels like a narrow cord constantly pulsating under the fingers of the examiner. The normal pulse of an adult dog is 70 – 100 beats per minute, while the normal pulse of a puppy is 100 – 120 beats. Usually, the pulse is counted for 30 seconds and the result multiplied by two, resulting in the number of heart beats per minute. If the dog recently engaged in muscular activity, it should be allowed to rest for 10 – 15 minutes before taking its pulse.


 During illnesses accompanied by fever, the pulse will be quicker, and the beats are not regular or identical in strength, which is especially notable if the dog suffers from coronary disease.


Rinsing the mouth.

Rinse the mouth with a syringe, inserting the tip into the corner of the dog’s mouth. Hold the head down so the dog does not swallow the liquid.



The nozzle of the enema bag or the tip of a large syringe is lubricated with vaseline and carefully inserted into the rectum. At the recommendation of a veterinarian, 400 – 500 g of water or other liquid are used.


Methods used to administer medication.

If the medicine does not have an unpleasant taste or smell for the dog, it can be mixed with the dog’s favorite food – meat, milk, etc. Small doses of medicine can be given inside a piece of meat, cutting a small pocket in the meat and placing the medicine inside. However, most of the time the medicine has an unpleasant taste or smell to the dog, or the sick dog has a poor appetite which makes the forced administration of the medicine necessary. For this purpose, the assistant firmly takes hold of the dog’s collar with his right hand. He grabs hold of the snout with his left hand so the thumb of his left hand is on the back of the dog’s nose and the remaining fingers are around the bottom of the jaw. He raises the dog’s head upwards at a 45 degree angle. Then the person administering the medicine pulls back the corner of the dog’s lips with the fingers of his left hand and pours or places the medicine in the opening. It can be useful to add powdered sugar to improve the taste of the medicine. If the dog stubbornly refuses to swallow the medicine placed behind his cheek, gently rub the dog’s throat or block its nostrils with your fingers. This will quickly elicit a swallowing reflex.

Do not administer medication by opening the jaws of the dog and pouring or placing the medicine in its open mouth. This can irritate the dog’s air passages and even cause inflammation of the bronchial tubes and lungs if the medicine enters the respiratory system.

Teaching the dog to search an area and enclosed premises.


To learn to search an area, the dog develops the skill to perform a weaving search pattern in the target area. When the target article is located, the dog brings it to the trainer. Conditioned stimuli include the “Search” command and gesture – right arm extended with palm down in the direction the dog should go to begin the search and then arm dropped to right hip and body leaning slightly forward. Auxiliary conditioned stimuli – the “Fetch”, “Out”, “No”, and “Good Dog” commands. Unconditioned stimuli – treat, petting, retrieval objects. The retrieving skill must already be developed from the Basic Training Course. Lessons should be conducted in a 240 square meter area of open terrain (field, clearing, vacant lot, yard) in a light head wind. There should be as few distracting stimuli as possible (strangers, animals, vehicles). Without entering the training area, the trainer throws 3 retrieval objects so that they are located in a triangle 15 – 20 m from one another. Then the trainer stands with the dog at the middle point of one of the sides (boundaries) of the site that will allow him to face the site with the wind blowing towards him. After the trainer allows the dog to sniff his article or hand, he gives the “Search” command and a hand signal and sends the dog to search the area. Following the dog, the trainer controls its search, encouraging the dog to follow a zig-zag pattern. For this purpose, besides the “Search” command, he uses gestures with his right hand. The “Fetch” command should only be used in those cases, when the dog does not pick up the item it locates. When the dog gives the article to the trainer, it is rewarded with exclamations of “Good Boy” and a treat. The exercise is repeated 2 – 3 times, preferably each time in a new location.

If the dog executes all the trainer’s commands and performs an eager search in a zig-zag pattern, the trainer continues with the lesson using the assistant, who throws out not 3 but 4 articles. He leaves the last article close to the location from which the trainer will send the dog on the search. The trainer allows the dog to sniff the article and sends him on the search. Then, he walks in a line running through the middle of the site, controlling the dog. If the dog goes by target articles without noticing them, the trainer uses a hand signal to help the dog locate these items.


           Teaching the dog to search an area:

                                                         ……..   – route of assistant

                                                         ____ – route of dog

                                                          —— - route of trainer

                                                          .  – location of articles

                                                          —-> – wind direction

Teaching the dog to search an area:

Training conditions become more complicated during the next lessons. The area of the sites to be searched increases to 420 square meters. The dog is taught to work off the leash. The time between when the articles are placed and when the dog is sent to search for them is increased (from 5 to 30 minutes or more). As a result, the human scent on the articles becomes weaker. Finally, the search is conducted without prior sniffing of the trainer’s or assistant’s article. Then, corners of the pattern are set up without retrieval objects so the dog does not change direction only after it locates an article.

In order to teach the dog to bark when it find articles that it cannot carry to the trainer, the assistant leaves heavy articles at locations indicated by the trainer or camouflages articles with grass, leaves, and covers them with dirt (snow), coats, etc. The assistant hangs some articles on tree branches, bushes, or on a fence. During the first lessons the trainer points the dog towards these articles and gives the “Speak” command to encourage the dog to bark and then rewards it for barking with “Good Dog” and a treat. Later the dog is taught to search independently for the articles and bark when they are found.

In order to teach a dog to find a hidden human subject, the assistant throws out articles for the search and then hides at the end of the search area. On the “Search” command and hand signal, the dog first locates the articles and then finds and detains the assistant, who is then guarded and escorted.

A dog is trained to search enclosed premises in the following manner.

The assistant, standing near an enclosed area (shed, or other building) suddenly attacks the dog and trainer and then runs inside the building where he carefully hides. The trainer and dog enter the building.  The trainer gives the “Search” command and with a hand signal sends the dog off to search. When the dog locates and detains the subject, he is turned over to a second individual (assistant). During subsequent lessons the assistant not only hides in the building, but also hides the articles the dog is supposed to search for and find.


The following basic errors are possible when teaching a dog to search an area and a building.

1. The lessons always takes place in the same location. As a result, the dog becomes accustomed to conducting a search under specific conditions and works poorly under other conditions.

2. Using the same location to train several dogs. In this case, the dog can become distracted by scents left earlier by other dogs (especially male dogs in response to the scent of females).

3. The consistent use of very similar articles, which will inhibit the dog when it locates objects that differ significantly from the usual ones.



Teaching the dog to select objects


The article selection skill is necessary to recognize the subject based on the target scent.

Selecting articles helps to develop sensitivity of the dog’s sense of smell. It facilitates the improvement of the dog’s scent discrimination skill and is the foundation for teaching dogs to select a subject by an object’s odor. Conditioned stimuli – basic: the “Sniff” command and hand signal in the direction of the objects; auxiliary command: “Fetch”, “Good Dog”, “Out”, “No” (with calm intonation), etc.

Unconditioned stimuli – retrieval object, treat, petting.

The skill is developed based on the olfactory-search and food behavioral reactions and the retrieving skill.

The dog is ready to select objects only if it will sniff an object offered to it with interest, actively search for it among a large number of similar unscented objects using its sense of smell, and bring the item to the trainer and sit in front of him. For this purpose the following preparatory exercises are used:

* teaching the dog to calmly sniff an object on the “Sniff” command;

* retrieving unfamiliar objects that vary in shape, size, and material;

* retrieving unfamiliar scented objects from among 50 – 70 items and among unscented small objects up to 1 x 10 centimeters in size.


In order to develop the dog’s olfactory-search reaction, the following retrieval exercises should be performed: retrieving sticks and stones from the large number of similar items, etc.; searching for a pine cone, an acorn with the trainer’s and assistant’s scent among a large number of unscented acorns.

During the preparatory exercises the dog must be trained to search in a calm but interested manner for its own as well as unfamiliar retrieval objects and then bring them to the trainer and sit in front of him. Practicing these preparatory exercises is extremely important, especially during a 5 – 6 month – long training course for search dogs.

The main thing here is to teach the dog to be interested in retrieving unfamiliar items since the end goal of the technique is to be able to select unfamiliar objects.

Teaching a dog to be interested in retrieving items belonging to the assistant can be accomplished in the following ways:

1. The assistant agitates the dog with a retrieval object and throws it to where other similar objects are located. The trainer sends the dog after the object. For each object the dog retrieves it is rewarded with a treat. The exercise is repeated 10 – 15 times during one lesson.

2. The trainers put 10 – 15 items in plastic bags and exchange the bags with each other per the supervisor’s instruction. Then, each trainer works with his dog, teaching it to retrieve unfamiliar objects.


Methodology and training techniques. First phase. Task: develop the dog’s initial conditioned reflex to select an object from 5 – 6 similar scented objects.


For this purpose each trainer must perfectly understand the rules for organizing and conducting exercises to select objects.



Layout of Site for Object Selection

Rules for preparing the site for object selection. Lessons on object selection are conducted in surroundings familiar to the dog with the least possible number of distracting stimuli (especially odors) at a specially prepared site. In this way, the dog will become accustomed to the environment, all the odors, i.e. the orienting reflex in response to the new situation will weaken, which will help the conditioned reflex to form rapidly. Likewise, just the opposite will occur if each lesson is conducted in different surroundings. The dog will be distracted by unfamiliar odors and the new environment. This will slow the development of the conditioned reflex of object selection.


The special area for object selection consists of the following elements. A 1.5 X 1 meter site is prepared for object placement. It is leveled, cleared of grass, and if necessary, the upper layer of soil is removed (No. 1).The location for the sitting dog (No. 2) is one meter from the placement site. The distance is determined based on the ease of controlling the dog on a short leash (1.5 meters in length), and so the dog can see the retrieval objects on the ground. One step to the right from the location of the sitting dog is the site for objects belonging to the main assistant (No. 3). The site for reserve objects (No. 4), both scented and unscented, is one step from No. 3 (to prevent the dog from becoming distracted by objects located at the main assistant’s site (No. 3) and at the site for reserve objects (No. 4). It is a good idea to locate the sites slightly below grade. The site for placing used objects (No. 5) is located 1.5 meters behind the dog’s location.


Rules for selecting and storing objects for use during the object selection exercise. Before beginning the object selection exercise, retrieving exercises should be conducted to develop the dog’s olfactory – search reaction. Therefore, all objects should be relatively small, about 5 – 10 centimeters long and 1 – 1.5 centimeters wide and of varying shape, color, and composition. The scent concentration on small objects is weaker, and it will be difficult for the dog to locate them in grass and bushes.


The initial object selection exercises should use triangular, rectangular, and circular retrieval objects fabricated from hard cardboard that have already been bent in half  (to make it easier for the dog to pick up from the ground). The cardboard is excellent for absorbing odors, convenient to carry in pockets, and it is only used one time. This ensures the purity of the subject’s individual scent on the objects, which has a decisive significance in object selection.

If one object is used several times during the lesson while searching an area, retrieving, selecting objects, and if several dogs pick up the object (each dog will leave the scent of its saliva on the object), then the retrieval object absorbs a combination of multiple odors. This will lead to the dog’s developing an undesirable conditioned reflex – instead of selecting an object based on the subject’s individual scent, it will use an integrated scent, which will have a negative impact on search dog training.


In order to maintain the purity of the subject’s individual scent on an object, the following rules should be followed:

* all retrieval objects of each trainer must be labeled and numbered to avoid mixing them up;

* the trainer must have a personal pair of tongs, throw-away gloves, or simply a plastic bag, which he must use when picking up objects, arranging them, or giving the dog to sniff;

* every day after each lesson, objects should be aired out on special racks. They should be replaced every 3 – 4 lessons;

* objects must be kept strictly in one place during lessons: in a satchel for retrieval objects, a plastic bag, or pockets in clothing where other scented objects cannot be placed;

* use treats correctly (offer only with the left hand), prepare them ahead of time, cutting them into small pieces;

* if wooden objects are used for object selection exercises, they need to be made from different varieties of wood in order to avoid the dog developing an undesirable association with a specific wood scent;

* items used for article selection must be varied in shape, size, color, and material.


As the dog’s conditioned reflex for article selection strengthens (at the end of training phase 2), it will become necessary to use items that will be encountered on the job such as brushes, knives, pistols (mock-ups), keys, notebooks, handkerchiefs, belts, socks, pens, gloves, etc.

Rules for placing article selection items.

The arrangement of objects at the site can either facilitate the dog’s work or make it more difficult. How fast and how well the conditioned reflex forms depends on the correct arrangement of objects (scent carriers). Thus, in the preparatory training phase the objects are scattered around in order to inhibit the visual-orienting reaction to the object’s location and to force the dog to locate the article among other similar (color, size, shape) unscented items using his sense of smell. The number of objects should be at least 50 – 70.



 Arrangement of objects for selection. a) in a row, b) scattered


In subsequent phases of object selection, the items will need to be arranged in a row with the distance between them at least 30 – 50 centimeters. This is because the odorous substances are very volatile and are constantly discharged into the environment and dispersed through the air. They can be absorbed by retrieval objects: fabrics absorb odors most of all (wool, silk), and paper and wood products absorb to a lesser degree. Arranging the retrieval objects in one row helps to preserve the scent and facilitates correct scent discrimination by the dog. In addition, it learns to sniff all objects in an organized and orderly fashion.


When objects are scattered, they absorb a variety of odors, especially if they are located at the site for an extended time. The dog has difficulty choosing the target object in this type of environment and usually makes errors, which negatively impacts conditioned reflex formation for article selection.


Rules for introducing the dog to the target scent. One of the most important aspects of successfully training a dog for article selection is the trainer’s ability to correctly introduce the dog to the scent of the target article. For this reason the trainer must be familiar with the structure of the olfactory analyzer and the physiology of the dog’s sense of smell.


During the preparatory phase the dog needs to develop a conditioned reflex to accept pressure on its muzzle, since when the dog sniffs, its mouth must be closed. It must also learn to be interested in and calmly sniff an article the trainer shows it. Initially, the object should be swabbed with an odorous substance, which will attract the dog’s attention, such as fish oil, beef broth, or juice from a canned product, etc.




Introducing the dog to the target article scent

Give the dog the object 2 – 3 times to sniff for 3 – 5 seconds, each time with 3 – 5 second pauses in between.

If the dog spends too much time sniffing (more than 10 – 15 seconds), adaptation may develop, i.e. the sense of smell becomes accustomed to the strength of the scent (stimulus), which can lead to a loss of sensitivity. In order to sense the odor again, its concentration must be increased, or the dog must be temporarily rested.

To introduce the dog to the scent of the article, first of all the dog’s muzzle needs to be set: squeeze the upper and lower jaws together with the left hand so its mouth is closed or push up just on the lower jaw.

While introducing the dog to the scent, the article must be located in a stationary position in front of its nose, since moving the object will distract the dog, and it won’t be able to imprint the scent.

The position of the dog (sitting or standing), while it is getting to know the article’s scent, depends on the dog’s individual characteristics: it is not necessary to make excitable and intense dogs sit, but less intense dogs should be held longer in the sitting position to build their interest in article selection.

The characteristics of the dog’s scent memory must be taken into consideration during article selection. Studies have shown that after sniffing an article, a dog’s normal scent memory lasts a maximum of one minute. Therefore, during the training process the time between sniffing an article and releasing the dog for article selection must be gradually increased to 3 – 5 minutes.


Basic requirements for organizing and conducting initial lessons:

* article selection exercises are practiced at the beginning of the lesson when the dog is fresh. The conditioned reflex develops more rapidly if the lessons are conducted 3 times per day (morning, afternoon, evening, and, as a rule, prior to feeding);

* prior to the article selection exercises, other complex specialized techniques should not be practiced;

* articles (scent carriers), prepared for selection, must be present at the site for 2 – 2.5 hours prior to the beginning of the lesson, in order to intensify the purity of each individual scent by exposing the articles to the wind, which will blow away household and other types of odors.

* each trainer conducts the exercises independently or under the instructor’s supervision. The lesson supervisor helps them, if necessary, and periodically checks their readiness to deal with unknown conditions;

* articles used for selection must remain in the pockets of the assistant’s protection suit for twenty-four hours;

* the following work regime is followed during the lessons: the dog will make 1 – 2 selections following each approach to the site;

* 6 – 10 exercises with two pairings each with 5 – 10 minute breaks will be conducted during a 2 – 3 hour lesson;

* do not have the dog retrieve articles while walking during breaks in the article selection lesson;

* handling of the dog before and during the article selection phase must be calm and friendly. Avoid the use of loud commands and strong mechanical stimuli;

* the dog must be rewarded with treats and petting for each selected article.


By the beginning of article selection training, the trainer’s level of preparation must comply with the following requirements:

* is familiar with the methodology and techniques for training dogs to select articles and has experience in organizing article selection lessons and handling dogs as both an instructor and trainer;

* knows how to arrange retrieval objects at the site, familiarize the dog with the target article scent by using a special pair of tongs;

* must be skilled at controlling the dog with commands, gestures, and the leash;

* knows when and how to give a treat;

* can confidently execute all actions in their proper sequence that are stipulated by the methodology and training techniques for teaching a dog to select articles.


Methods of training a dog to select articles. They depend on the dog’s individual characteristics (training level, intensity of the olfactory-search behavioral reaction, age), training course duration and trainer readiness.



First phase. First method – selection of unfamiliar article from a group of unscented articles with gradual transition to the selection of scented articles. The trainer arranges 5 – 6 unscented articles in a row, that have been kept on racks to air out or in a special box (for every 6 – 8 trainers one portable box is fabricated). Another 2 – 3 similar articles are placed at the reserve object site (No. 4). Simultaneously, the assistant leaves 10 – 15 scented articles at site No. 3.  The exercise is conducted as follows: 1.5 – 2 hours after preparing the site and after exercising the dog, the trainer approaches the article selection site (No. 2), gives the “Sit command, and has the dog sit at its left side. Then he picks up a scented article belonging to the target assistant with a pair of tongs and places it at site No. 1 next to the unscented articles (each time the location of the target article must change). He picks up a second scented article with the tongs, extends his left leg in front of the dog, and with his left hand adjusts the dog’s muzzle (the dog’s mouth must be closed). Using the tongs with his right hand, he brings the article to within 1 – 2 centimeters of the dog’s nose while giving the “Sniff” command. While the dog is actively sniffing (inhaling through its nose), the trainer encourages it with the “Good Dog” and “Sniff” commands given with approving intonation. After familiarizing the dog with the scent, he places the article one step to the right. Then he gives the “Sniff” command and a hand signal and sends the dog to select the article.

While the dog is sniffing objects lying on the ground, the trainer carefully observes the dog’s behavior and stands calmly without giving any commands. If the dog becomes distracted and does not sniff the objects, only the “Sniff” command can be repeated.

When the dog brings the target article and sits down in front of the trainer, he takes the article and rewards the dog with a treat. In case of a mistake, he gives the “No” command (in a soft tone of voice), takes away the article and puts it at the site for used objects. The trainer must clarify the reason for the dog’s error. If the dog was too excited, it needs to be exercised. If it did not memorize the scent of the target object, let the dog sniff the article again and continue the selection exercise (Figure 65).

It is prohibited to prepare (to hold in your hand) a treat ahead of time, give the “Good Dog”, “Sniff”, or “No” command when the dog is sniffing objects at site No. 1, move, or tug the leash since that leads to the dog forming undesirable associations with the trainer’s behavior, i.e. in the future the dog will select objects based on the trainer’s signals and not by scent. After the selection is made, the dog is allowed to rest for 5 – 10 minutes, and then the exercise is repeated. The exercises should be repeated up to 6 – 10 times which will facilitate the formation of the conditioned reflex.

The target article is selected from 5 – 6 unscented objects only during the first three lessons, since the dog quickly develops an undesirable conditioned reflex to the scent strength, i.e. the dog in the future will choose any article with a scent. Subsequently, it is very difficult to teach such dogs scent discrimination. Therefore, it is necessary to switch the dog gradually over to the selection of scented articles. At first, select articles with the scent of the target assistant from among 3 – 4 unscented and 1 – 2 lightly scented articles handled by the supplementary assistant. This exercise is practiced for 2 – 3 lessons in the following sequence.  When the selection articles are being arranged, the supplementary assistant or the lesson supervisor walks to the selection site (No. 1), and at the trainer’s direction, picks up 1 – 2 unscented articles with his right hand. He holds them in his hand for 1 – 2 minutes and then returns them to their previous location. As a result, there will be 3 unscented articles and 1 scented article previously handled by the main assistant and 2 lightly scented articles previously handled by the supplementary assistant.  Besides that, it is a good idea to keep 2 – 3 articles previously handled by the supplementary assistant in reserve in case the dog picks one of them. In the event the dog picks up an article by mistake, the object must be removed from the site and replaced by one of the reserve articles.

If the dog confidently selects the target article, the selection conditions become more complex.

At each lesson the supplementary assistants are rotated, and gradually the scent concentration on the articles handled by them is increased until it reaches the same intensity as the target article. For example, 2 unscented and 2 lightly scented articles from each assistant (one of them being the target article, the other with the scent of the supplementary assistant) – a total of 6 articles.

On subsequent days all the articles will be arranged simultaneously (including articles handled by the main assistant). Do not move the articles from one place to another since the article’s scent remains behind, and the dog might make an error. Only the location of the target article can be changed.

As the dog’s conditioned reflex for article selection develops, the number of scented articles is gradually increased and the number of unscented articles is decreased.

For example, 1 unscented article, 3 equally scented articles, and 2 lightly scented articles can be placed at the site. By the end of the first training phase, the dog must confidently and eagerly select the target article from among 5 – 6 scented articles having the same scent concentration.

In order to evaluate the dog’s training level and identify possible trainer errors, the exercise needs to periodically include the selection of articles that are not familiar to the trainer. Additionally, the dog should also be sent to the selection site when the target article is not there. These exercises should be performed carefully and not more than once per lesson. After the dog sniffs all the articles and approaches the trainer without having picked up anything, the trainer should reward it. Then an article with the target assistant’s scent is placed at the site. The dog is then introduced to the scent, and sent to make the selection.


Second method: selection of an unfamiliar article from a group of objects with old scents. Subsequently, the strength and age of the scents will be matched by intensity and freshness. This exercise is conducted with the participation of 5 – 6 trainers, who have 15 – 20 articles (scent carriers). The trainers help each other during the exercise: each of them simultaneously plays the role of the main and supplementary assistant during an exercise with a dog.

The lesson begins with planning and preparing the environment for the selection exercises. The group is broken down into pairs, in which one plays the trainer, and one plays the main assistant. Then, under the direction of the group instructor, the trainers proceed in a line from one site to another, arranging articles for each trainer. This is done in the following manner:

At the direction of the lesson supervisor, everyone except the trainer and main assistant place 1 – 2 articles, and the trainer arranges them in a row at site No. 1. He then places one article in the site for reserve objects (No. 4). The remaining articles are arranged for each trainer in the same order at the remaining sites. After 1 – 2 hours the main assistant places 10 – 15 articles at site No. 3, which stand out because of the strong intensity of their scent. This will facilitate the dog’s work.

After that, the trainers and their dogs complete the article selection exercises in the same way as the first method.


After 2 – 3 lessons, the difference in scent freshness of the articles assigned to the main and supplementary assistants is decreased by 15 – 20 minutes and eventually equalized. This needs to be done carefully, taking into account the dog’s working ability. To maintain the dog’s intensity level, occasionally the article selection should be performed under simplified conditions.

In order to test the dog’s training level and to identify possible undesirable associations in its work, the dog should be sent to select an object when the target article is not present. The dog should sniff all the articles and approach the trainer.


Third method. Selecting an article from a group of scented articles with gradual transition to selecting unfamiliar articles. This method is used to train dogs that have little interest in retrieving unfamiliar objects. The conditioned reflex to actively search for the trainer’s article among a large number of unscented articles, for example; a baton among other batons, begins to develop in these dogs during the preparatory exercises.

The basic exercise is performed as follows. Four to five scented articles belonging to the assistants are arranged at site No. 1, and 1 – 2 hours later the trainer places his own articlet there. After 2 – 2.5 hours the trainer, after thoroughly exercising the dog, arrives at site No. 1, and the dog selects the trainer’s article from a group of scented objects. The exercises are repeated 6 – 10 times over the course of 2 – 3 lessons. Subsequently, the scent intensity of all articles is gradually equalized.

It is a good idea to vary the shape, composition, and color of the articles at each lesson. Additionally, the exercises on article selection should frequently be conducted under conditions that are unfamiliar to the trainer. The lesson supervisor or another trainer should be the one to create the situational environment for the lesson.

If the dog is able to confidently and actively select an item belonging to the trainer from among 5 – 6 unfamiliar articles, then it is time to gradually transition to the selection of unfamiliar articles. In order to facilitate the transition from selecting a familiar article to selecting an unfamiliar one, the trainer’s scent should be swabbed on articles belonging to the assistant (the scent intensity on the target articles must not exceed the others). Gradually, the scent intensity on all articles is equalized. The dog is rewarded with a treat for each correct selection.

First phase article selection standards.

By the end of the first phase of article selection the dog must be able to:

* calmly accept pressure on his muzzle and actively sniff the target scent;

* independently and eagerly sniff all the articles lying at the site, locate the target article from among 5 – 6 others, bring it to the trainer, and sit in front of him;

* if the target article is not present among the others, the dog returns to the trainer on his own after thoroughly sniffing the other items;


During the lessons the trainer must:

* study the dog’s behavior during normal and contact-free selection;

* demonstrate expertise in dog control techniques;

* learn to organize and conduct article selection exercises as a lesson supervisor;

* be able to anticipate and note trainer mistakes as well as find ways to eliminate them.

During lessons, these rules must be followed:

* the introduction of situational complexity, change in the selection exercise location must be done gradually and carefully in order not to inhibit the initial conditioned reflex and delay the formation of a learned behavior or skill;

* repeat the exercises at least 3 – 4 times during a single lesson, practice 2 – 3 times per week. Send the dog for article selection 2 – 3 times per lesson with breaks of up to 1 minute;

* reward the dog for each correct selection with treats and petting;

* perform the exercises at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of a lesson, as well as in the morning, evening, and at mid-day;

* gradually increase (decrease) the freshness of the scent at each lesson by 10 – 15 minutes up to 8 – 10 hours, and occasionally conduct an article selection exercise with 20 – 40 minute old scents;

* use articles that differ in composition, color, shape, and size. Strictly follow the rules on storing articles; remember that using articles made from different materials facilitates the dog’s ability to differentiate the individual scents of the assistants from among a group of other scents present on each item, depending on the composition (rubber, wood, metal, fabric, etc.);

* skillfully combine conditions that are both familiar and unfamiliar to the trainer for the article selection exercises.

More complex exercise variations during the second phase of article selection. Increase the number (up to 8 – 10) of articles of varying shape, composition, size, and color. Increase the age of the scents by 10 – 15 minutes each lesson; up to 8 – 10 hours. The exercise regime depends on the dog’s intensity and interest in the work:

* selection of articles lying close to the trainer:

* teaching the dog the no-contact method of article selection.


The trainer needs to comply with the following rules while working on more complicated exercise variations in the second phase.

* to maintain the dog’s intensity level while working, conduct 1 – 2 article selection exercises regularly every 3 – 4 lessons under simplified conditions with a scent age of up to 20 – 40 minutes.

* for convenience purposes and to save time in creating the environmental situation for article selection, each trainer should have a special box containing 0.5 liter – glass jars or plastic bags.

* at a set time prior to the exercise, the trainer places various articles with the assistants’ scent in the jars. This makes it possible to conduct the article selection exercise at any time of the day, any place, and without the assistants present.

* After each lesson the jars need to be washed, dried, and the scent carriers (articles) replaced.

* In order to identify potential trainer errors on time as well as the dog’s undesirable associations, the article selection exercises should be conducted more often under conditions unfamiliar to the trainer.


During the first phase, the article selection exercises were conducted under favorable conditions and at specially prepared sites, but in the future it will be necessary to gradually teach the dog to work at various times of the day (morning, evening, mid-day), at different air temperatures, at the beginning, middle, and end of the lesson, and in varying surroundings. It is important to remember that a sudden change in selection conditions can lead to a weakening of the scent discrimination reflex: the dog becomes fidgety and may grab any object having a strong scent. If the dog becomes confused and loses concentration (switches from one article to another, is sluggish in article selection, or occasionally lies down on the articles, etc.) when more complex exercise variations are introduced, do not force him to work or raise your voice. It is better to take a 3 – 5 day break or conduct the article selection exercise under simplified conditions, providing incentive to the dog with the intensity and freshness of the scent. With the introduction of each complex variation, the trainer must work with patience, restraint, consistency, and always be calm with the dog.

Procedural advice from the lesson supervisor. Success in educating trainers and teaching dogs to select articles depends on the organizational abilities of the supervisor (instructor). Most importantly, he much teach the trainers (beginning with the first phase) to independently and correctly perform the article selection exercises. As new variations are introduced, he must demonstrate how the exercise is to be performed. He works with the trainers individually and allows them to practice independently, occasionally checking their work. The trainers are broken down into pairs so they can monitor and help each other. One trainer in each pair is named as senior trainer.



Article selection exercises, personally supervised by the instructor and monitored by the trainer’s partner, should be conducted more often under conditions unfamiliar to the trainer.

Prevailing winds are preferable. The dog should be sent into the wind to select an article.

Rules for practicing complex variations during the second phase.

Selection of articles located at the assistant’s feet. Teaching the dog to select articles in the presence of people at the selection site is important for the development of the conditioned reflex of selecting a human subject based on the scent of an article. By the end of the training course, the dog must calmly accept the presence of strangers (assistants), who are present during selection. The exercises become more complicated and are performed in the following sequence. Initially, the assistants (3 – 4 persons) are 5 – 7 meters away, standing calming at the same location. If the dog becomes distracted by the people during the selection process, the trainer must put the dog on a short leash. He then approaches the group of assistants, walks around them, and calms the dog. If the dog exhibits aggression, the trainer halts the dog’s undesirable behavior by the “No” command. Then he returns the dog to the selection location and continues the exercise.

At each lesson, the distance between the selection articles and the location of the assistants is reduced. The ultimate goal of this exercise is the selection of articles lying at the feet of the assistants or on the toes of their shoes.

The personal belongings of the assistants also need to be used for selection since the dog’s work in identifying a subject will involve different shapes, composition, color, and sizes of articles (scent carriers) that belong to a specific individual.

In creating the environment for the selection exercise with personal items, make sure that the articles are identical in shape and composition since different – sized articles have varying scent concentrations which might cause the dog to make a mistake. Use articles with different shapes and composition each lesson.

Before the conditioned reflex for selecting articles has been developed, conduct the selection exercises daily in the presence of assistants, preferably in the morning, evening, and afternoon 3 – 5 times per day and then periodically.


Standards during the second training phase

* The dog must eagerly sniff articles offered to it no matter what their shape, size, or composition;

* If the target item is not present among the objects at the site, the dog returns to the trainer without the article after it has sniffed all the articles thoroughly.


Third phase.

Task: improve the dog’s skill to select objects until it becomes completely reliable under actual working conditions.

Requirements for organizing and conducting lessons. Conduct the lessons in different areas with the fewest number of scent stimuli. Select articles under conditions unfamiliar for the trainer and only occasionally under familiar conditions (to more accurately assess the dog’s behavior).

Practice at least 3 – 4 times per week. Perform 2 – 10 exercises during each lesson.

Only use the assistants’ personal items for selection (shoes, belt, headgear, notebooks, combs, etc.), to approximate actual working conditions.


In the third training phase the trainer must:

* have a thorough understand of the dog’s behavior;

* be able to organize article selection exercises with the goal of identifying the target subject, including the recognition of articles by scent;

* perfect his ability to analyze the dog’s actions and work, to notice mistakes, look for their causes, and eliminate them.


Exercises practiced during the third training phase to develop the article selection skill.

The selection of articles from objects having scents of varying intensity, concentration, and age. These are conditions that approximate actual on-the-job conditions. Therefore, exercises practiced under similar conditions are needed. In addition, they have a positive effect on improving the dog’s discrimination skills.

The exercise is performed in the following sequence. Initially, the assistant’s target article is placed at the selection site, and then 20 – 30 minutes later the articles belonging to the supplementary assistants are arranged there. Subsequently, depending on the intensity and the efficiency of the dog’s work, the scent age of the target article is gradually increased by up to 20 – 30 minutes at each lesson. In order to avoid the formation of undesirable conditioned reflexes in response to scent intensity (target scent is less intense), the scent age of the articles belonging to the supplementary assistants also needs to be gradually increased, creating a variety of scent disparities.

By the end of the training course the dog must be able to select a target item from articles with varying scent ages.

The sequential selection of articles belonging to several assistants from one group and different groups of objects is one of the most complex types of selection. Two or three individuals act as the main assistant to arrange the articles. Each leaves in a pre-arranged location 3 – 4 articles (scent carriers). During the first lessons, articles belonging to two assistants are selected from various groups of objects (at two sites). At first the dog is sent 2 – 3 times to select at article from the first site, and then the same number of times to the second site.

Subsequently articles belonging to 2- 3 assistants are selected from the same site. These exercises facilitate the development of discrimination skills and the identification of possible undesirable associations in the dog.

In the concluding exercises of the third training phase, article selection is performed under any weather conditions, at varying times of the day, and at different locations in the presence of distracting stimuli. This all promotes reliability in the dog’s work under actual working conditions.

Combining article selection with the skill of following a scent trail and searching an area. When working dogs are used on the job, there may be cases, when other scent objects are encountered while following the trail of the target subject. Therefore, it is useful to train the dog to search an area or enclosed premises for target articles while using only the target scent.

The exercises are performed as follows. During the lessons involving a search of an area or enclosed area and following a scent trail, various objects belonging to the supplementary assistants are distributed on the ground. The goal of the trainer during the lessons is for the dog to only pick out articles belonging to the target subject without paying attention to the other objects.


Training standards for the dog in the third phase of article selection include:

* the dog must eagerly, but calmly sniff the scented article offered for familiarization.

* sniff all objects at the site, independently find the target article and either signal that the article has been found or pick it up, carry it to the trainer, and sit in front of him;

* if the target article is not at the site, the dog independently returns to the trainer after thoroughly inspecting the other objects;

* select the target article carrying a scent either older or fresher than the other objects.


Potential trainer errors and their consequences:

1. If exercises are conducted over a lengthy period with target articles that differ from the others in scent intensity, the dog will develop the habit of locating the target article not based on the individual scent of the subject, but on the intensity of the integrated scent.

2. Mixing articles due to the lack of labels, poor ventilation, and the frequent use of the same articles leads to the loss of recognizable characteristics and the development of a conditioned reflex to select an article based on the intensity of the integrated scent or to the dog making frequent errors in its work.

3. This constant use of similar target articles promotes the development of an undesirable association with the composition, shape, and color of retrieval objects.

4. Always locating the target article in the same place leads to the development of an undesirable association with its location.

5. Switching the location of articles at the site from place to place along one line can lead to the dog making a mistake.

6. Using the same individual or persons from the same profession in the role of the main assistant can impede progress in developing the dog’s skill to discriminate among scents.

7. Numerous repetitions of the “Sniff” command while the dog is sniffing articles, giving the “Good Dog” command as soon as the dog begins to sniff the target item, backwards movement by the trainer, and jerking the leash can result in the dog developing an undesirable response to the trainer’s behavior.

8. Excessively frequent repetition of the object selection exercises leads to overtraining and the refusal of the dog to work or to mistakes.

9. Harsh treatment of the dog and forcing compliance using methods that are unpleasant for the dog can cause pain, mistakes, or complete refusal to work.

10. Performing the exercises only under conditions familiar to the trainer reinforces trainer errors and makes the dog develop various undesirable reflexes.


Developing the active-defensive reaction in the dog.


A suspicious attitude towards strangers, fighting courageously and actively with an assailant, and maintaining a strong grip on the assailant’s clothing are skills that form the foundation in preparing a dog for search, guard, sentry, and other types of work.

Conditioned stimuli – the “Attack” command and gesture – hand signal in the direction of the assistant.

Unconditioned stimuli – the assistant and the impact of his actions of the dog. The skill is developed based on the active – defensive reaction. The imitative reaction can also be used. The technique is introduced after good contact between the trainer and dog has been established.

The development of the active-defensive reaction must begin as puppies when the dogs are kept together in a kennel. The process continues until the dog enters a basic course of specialized training.

Methodology and training techniques.

The type of exercises and the sequence in which complicated variations are introduced depend on the dog’s age, level of training, and the conditions in which it was raised before the beginning of training. At the training site, the trainer hides the assistant. The supervisor instructs the trainer to put the dog on a chain. The trainer secures the chain to a tree (post) at a height of 1 meter from the ground so that when slack is taken out of the chain, it is located above the dog’s body and cannot become tangled between the dog’s legs. The chain is held in the trainer’s left hand together with the leash at a distance of one meter from the collar in order to soften the dog’s lunges towards the assistant.


At an agreed signal, the assistant carefully emerges from cover and approaches the dog, paying close attention to its behavior. The trainer points his arm in the direction of the assistant and gives the “Attack” command. If the dog exhibits an active reaction, the trainer pets it as a reward. The assistant approaches the dog and simulates an attack, striking a stick on the ground and lightly on the dog’s sides. As soon as the dog becomes sufficiently agitated, the assistant runs back to cover.

The trainer calms the dog by petting. After 2 – 3 minutes, the exercise is repeated.

When the dog exhibits courage with no fear in response to the assistant waving the stick, the exercises move on to developing the dog’s grip on towels (rags) and special bite sleeves. With this goal in mind, the assistant agitates the dog, swatting it with the stick. He waves the towel over the dog and strikes the dog so that it is able to seize the towel. If the dog’s grip is weak, the assistant pulls the towel towards him, trying to take it away. If the dog grips too strongly, he throws the towel down and as soon as the dog lets it go, he switches the dog’s attention to another towel. When the trainer gives the signal, the assistant stop agitating and runs back behind cover. The exercise ends with a walk for the dog.

Numerous repetitions of exercises designed to develop aggression with the help of a towel can quickly lead to the formation of an undesirable habit. Therefore, if the dog boldly seizes the towel and is not afraid of blows with the stick, then exercises are conducted to develop a strong grip with the dog switching its attention to special bite sleeves. The dog is taught to fight the assistant by pulling off articles of specialized clothing and then seizing the assistant’s arms.

Exercises are conducted using two assistants who simultaneously attack the dog and use a variety of mechanical stimuli.

Aggression is developed in puppies and dogs with a passive-defensive reaction in group exercises, using the dog’s ability to imitate. One of the dogs in the group must be more aggressive so that its actions motivate the other dogs to exhibit an aggressive response to the actions of the assistant. It must be noted, that there should not more than 4 – 5 puppies or 2 – 3 grown dogs in the group. Agitation should not last longer than 2 – 3 minutes. Otherwise, the dogs develop an excessive barking reaction, and the nervous system becomes overstimulated. The number and nature of the exercises to develop aggression are determined based on the individual characteristics of the dog: age, intensity of the defensive reaction, and receptiveness to training.


With puppies the exercises should be conducted 2 – 3 times daily. With dogs older than 6 – 8 months that show insufficient aggression, 5 – 6 exercises (two pairings each time) should be conducted during the first 4 – 5 lessons with 5 – 10 minute breaks between exercises. Agitation duration: 1 – 2 minutes. Subsequently, the number of exercises is gradually reduced to 1 – 2 per lesson.

The dog is considered ready for transfer into the working dog course if it is not afraid of an assailant; if the dog fights with courage and energy with a strong grip, and if it switches its attention and tries to seize the assistant’s arms.

Potential trainer errors:

1. Use by the assistant of strong mechanical stimuli which instead of aggression elicit cowardice.

2. Always wearing the same type of clothing.

3. Conducting lessons in the same surroundings and at the same time of day.

Teaching the dog to detain and hold, to select objects, to search an area

The skill of detaining a fleeing subject, fighting, and holding the detained subject in a stationary position or in movement is necessary in carrying out a number of jobs and is the foundation for developing other specialized skills in a dog.



Conditioned stimuli: primary – the “Attack” command and gesture – hand signal in the direction of the assistant; supplementary commands are “Heel”, “No”, “Speak”, “Sit” etc.

Unconditioned stimuli: the assistant and his impact, petting. The skill is developed based on the active-defensive reaction after the dog has developed sufficient aggression.

Methodology and training procedures: First phase. Task: develop the dog’s initial conditioned reflex to detain a fleeing subject and then to hold him in place.

Trainer skill requirements:

* know the behavioral characteristics of his dog; be able to determine the dog’s excitement level;

* know how to control the dog on the leash when detaining the assistant;

* know how to play the role of the assistant for other trainers and their dogs;

* be familiar with the sequence of skill development and potential trainer and assistant errors which might lead to the dog forming undesirable conditioned reflexes.

Exercises in detained a fleeing assistant are conducted in the following order. A site is selected with natural cover. In the presence of the trainers, the lesson supervisor briefs the assistant, indicating cover locations, sequence of actions, and alternating roles of the trainers.


The trainer arrives at the site with his dog. Keeping the dog in a sitting position on a short leash, he gives the “Watch” command and makes a hand signal in the direction where the trainer is expected to appear.

When the dog relaxes, the assistant comes out from behind cover on the agreed signal, agitates the dog with gestures, and walks in its direction. The trainer allows the assistant to approach to within 3 – 4 steps and gives the “Stop” command. At this command, the assistant turns and runs in the direction indicated.

When the assistant is 5 – 10 steps away, the trainer gives the “Attack” command and with a hand signal sends the dog on a short leash to detain the fleeing subject. The assistant runs away sideways, watching the dog’s behavior and holding out one of his arms towards the dog. As the dog approaches, the trainer distracts it by raising one of his arms, encouraging the dog to jump and seize him by the arm.

After the dog seizes one arm, the assistant strikes the dog (with a stick or the bite sleeve) and switches the dog’s attention to the other arm, then back to the first arm, etc. The trainer gives the dog the opportunity to vent his aggression and then commands the assistant to “Stop”. On this command the assistant ceases all activity and stands calmly. The trainer approaches the dog, and applies light tension on a short leash. After a short wait, he gives the “Heel” command and gives a tug of the leash in his direction. If the dog does not release the assistant, then the trainer strikes the dog lightly with the stick. The trainer calms the dog by petting and has it sit at a distance of 3 – 4 steps from the assistant. During the first lessons, after the dog has held the standing trainer in place for a minute, the trainer gives the “Down” command. The assistant lies down, and the dog is taken for a walk. These exercises are repeated 2 – 3 times a week. On the other days, the dog is taught the conditioned reflex of holding the assistant in place without detaining him.

The exercise is conducted as follows. The trainer and the dog approach the assistant who is standing calmly, dressed each time in varying specialized clothing. The trainer sits the dog at a distance of 3 – 4 meters from the assistant and gives the “Hold” command. The assistant must stand calmly, watching the dog. The trainer gradually walks away from the dog, each time in different directions, making the dog stay in a sitting position. If the dog attempts to seize the assistant, the trainer gives the “Sit” command with threatening intonation and makes it sit, using pressure with the leash if necessary. The goal of these exercises it to teach the dog to hold the subject while the trainer frisks him.


The detainee is searched in the following order. The trainer orders the assistant to turn sideways to the dog, spread his legs, and raise his arms. Then the trainer gives the “Hold” command and leaves the dog stationary 3 – 4 meters from the assistant. The trainer approaches the subject from the side and searches him, from head to toe. As he does this, he observes the dog and periodically repeats the “Hold” command. After finishing the search, the trainer circles the detainee at a distance of 3 meters and approaches the dog. He orders the detainee to drop his arms, bring his feet together, and lie down on the ground at the “Down” command. Afterwards, the dog is taken for a walk.

In future lessons the following variations are introduced:

* the distance between the dog and the fleeing subject, before the dog is released to give chase, is gradually increased to 30 meters;

* the assistant changes the type of clothing he wears;

* the lessons are conducted on various types of terrain and at different times of the day in combination with shooting from firearms at a distance of 150 – 200 meters;

* the time the dog holds the prisoner in place is increased.


Initially, the assistant approached the dog and agitated it by hitting with a stick before the dog was released to chase him, but in the future the assistant will agitate the dog by waving his arms at a distance. Each time he will be further from the trainer and dog. Eventually, the assistant will walk calmly and flee on after the “Stop” command.

In practice the dog often forms undesirable habits in response to the assistant’s standard clothing and to his never-changing behavior. Therefore, each lesson the trainer’s outer garments must be changed. At the end of the first training phase during the detention exercise, it is a good idea for a second assistant to shoot a firearm at a distance of 150 – 200 meters. This distance is reduced from lesson to lesson.


By the end of the first training phase the dog must:

* courageously pursue a fleeing assistant at a distance of up to 30 meters and actively engage him in a fight:

* stop fighting with the assistant following the “Stop, Heel” command from the trainer and focus its attention on holding the assistant in place for 2 – 3 minutes.


Second phase. Task. Improve the dog’s conditioned reflex to detain a subject and hold him in place and in motion until it becomes a learned behavior (skill).

In organizing and conducting lessons, these rules should be followed:

* strictly comply with the exercise regime, based on the dog’s individual characteristics;

* conduct the lessons in different surroundings and at different times of the day (daylight, night), varying the type of specialized clothing the assistant wears;

* change the assistant’s behavior for each lesson, including the constant increase in stimuli strength;

* a specific sequence should be followed during the lessons – chase and detain, hold in place then in motion, leave the assistant while he is lying down, and then walk the dog.


During the second phase, exercises are held with the introduction of the following variations:

* gradual increase in the distance to the fleeing assistant up to 100 – 150 meters and teaching the dog to respond calmly to the assistant’s appearance;

* teaching the dog to switch focus from one target to another when fighting the prisoner;

* detaining the assistant dressed in different clothing and fleeing from the dog while shedding his outer garments;

* conducting the exercises with shots fired from different sides;

* detaining the assistant, who moves each time in a different direction (towards the dog, away from the dog) and at different speeds.


The distance between the dog and the assistant is increased gradually; 10 – 15 meters each time every 2 – 3 lessons, taking into consideration the characteristics of the surroundings, up to 100 – 150 meters during the day and 40 – 50 meters at night with illumination of the area provided by vehicle headlights.


There are several ways to develop the dog’s ability to switch attack focus.

First method. The assistant puts on special bite sleeves over his training (protection) suit and has a rolled up raincoat [D1] on his back. When detained by the dog, he maneuvers his body so that the dog first pulls off the raincoat and then pulls off the bite sleeves from the right and left arms in turn. The exercise ends with the dog holding the assistant in place and in motion. Then the dog is walked.

Second method. The assistant, dressed in a training suit, holds wooden knives with dull edges in one or both hands. While fighting with the dog, he simulates blows with them by moving his arm downwards, lightly touching the dog’s back. The dog generally will seize the arm delivering the blow. Then, using the same method, the assistant re-focuses the dog on the other arm 4 – 5 times. The exercise ends in the normal way.

Third method. While fighting with the dog, the assistant grabs the dog’s collar with his hand and swings the dog back and forth, occasionally striking the sides of the dog’s body. This forces the dog to seize the assistant’s jacket sleeves. During this maneuver, special attention should be paid to safety measures so the dog does not bite the assistant in the face.

Consistent, patient, courageous and skilled work by the assistant is needed to teach the dog to fight energetically with the prisoner and to switch its attack to all body parts if necessary.


Regular lessons in detaining a subject often lead to the dog developing a barking response to the appearance of the assistant. Therefore, the following lesson should be conducted periodically. The trainer and the dog arrive at a designated location. He makes the dog sit and then sits down beside the dog. With a hand signal in the direction the assistant is expected to appear, the trainer gives the “Watch” command. If the dog becomes excited (whines, barks), then he repeats the “Watch” command with threatening intonation and gives a jerk on the leash. When the dog calms down, the assistant emerges from cover at an agreed-upon signal and moves along a prearranged route. If the dog becomes agitated or exhibits a vocal response, the trainer calms the dog. After the assistant leaves, the trainer walks the dog. Teaching the dog to break off the fight with the assistant on the trainer’s signal is a difficult task. After the “Heel” command, the dog must approach the trainer and sit at his left leg while continuing to watch the assistant. The handler must not come close to the dog during the fight with the prisoner since it could be dangerous. Therefore, the trainer must control the dog with commands at a distance of at least 3 – 4 meters from the assistant.

If the dog does not approach after the first “Heel” command, the trainer repeats the command with threatening intonation and reinforces it with a jerk of the leash or a light blow with a stick. Subsequently it will be necessary to change the way the assistant acts and create an environment approximating reality with explosions, shots, etc.), using amplified recordings or other simulations.


By the end of the second phase of training the dog must be able to:

* courageously detain the assistant dressed in varying types of clothing, at a distance of 100 – 150 meters;

* attack and fight the prisoner, seizing him by his arms, legs, which he uses to strike the dog;

* stop fighting the assistant after the trainer’s “Stop, Heel” command, approach the trainer and sit at his left leg, hold the prisoner in place and in motion;

* not become distracted at sound, light, and other strong stimuli.


Third phase.

Task: Improve the dog’s skill in detaining and holding the assistant under complex conditions that approximate actual on-the-job requirements.

The following exercises are practiced during this phase:

* detaining the assistant at a distance of 200 – 300 meters, moving in different directions and using unexpected strong stimuli;

* teaching the dog to fight and then independently to hold in place a sitting, lying, or standing subject in the absence of the trainer;

* detaining the assistant at night with the surroundings illuminated by vehicle headlights, projectors, and flares;

* detaining 2 – 3 assistants with one and two dogs simultaneously and holding them;

* detaining the assistant in non-residential premises; basement, attic, etc.;

* making the “detain” exercise more difficult using other special techniques;

* teaching the dog to defend the trainer from attack by the prisoner being escorted;

* periodic repetition of previous lessons, taking into account the dog’s level of training, if necessary.


During exercises to detain the assistant when located at a distance, the distance between the assistant and the dog is increased by 20 – 30 meters every 2 – 3 lessons. The assistant does not intentionally agitate the dog and acts in ways approximating normal behavior. He walks in various directions (towards the dog, away from the dog). When approaching the dog, he stops and stands (lies, sits) calmly and also uses strong, stimuli that are unexpected for the dog (attacks the dog while shouting, strikes the dog with the bite sleeve, sometimes with a stick). In all cases, the dog must engage the assistant, fight, and hold him until the trainer approaches. All this is practiced at varying times of the day together with shots fired from different directions and illumination of the site. Additionally, the dog is usually handled off the leash. To intensify a suspicious response of the dog towards the assistant while he is being held by the dog, the assistant occasionally attacks the trainer and attempts to escape when he is being searched and escorted. In all cases, the dog must attack the assistant both in response to the trainer’s command as well as independently. After a brief fight, the assistant ceases movement. The trainer calls the dog, rewards it, and continues to escort the prisoner. Gradually, the dog develops the skills to protect the trainer from attack and to pay close attention to the assistant when holding him. After the dog has mastered detaining a fleeing subject and fighting while switching his attack focus, the dog can be taught to detain two or more assistants.

The exercise is conducted as follows. The lesson supervisor briefs the assistants and places them behind cover at a distance of 50 meters from each other. The trainer sits down with the dog in the designated location (at a distance of 50 – 60 meters from the first assistant), and unsnaps the short leash. Restraining the dog with his left hand on the collar, he gives the “Watch” command. On the signal from the lesson supervisor, the first assistant emerges from behind cover and calmly moves in the direction of the trainer and dog. The trainer gives the “Stop” command. The assistant stops and then turns around and runs in the direction of the second assistant. After 10 – 15 seconds, the trainer gives the “Attack” command and sends the dog to detain the assistant and he follows. After being detained by the dog, the first assistant stops fighting and lies on the ground, covering his head and neck with his arms. At this moment the second assistant unexpectedly runs out from behind cover shouting and making noise. He attracts the dog’s attention by his energetic movements. The dog will usually stop fighting the first assistant and switch over to the second. The exercise ends with the dog holding the two assistants in place and during movement.

As the skill of independently switching from one assistant to the other develops in the dog, the exercise conditions are modified. The assistants emerge from behind cover at the same time and move (run away) in the same or different directions. While being held in place or during movement, the assistants attack the trainer and run away in different directions.

Simultaneously, the dog is taught to detain the assistant in non-residential and dark buildings and enclosed areas. At first the assistant agitates the dog and runs away into the enclosed area. On the “Attack” command, the trainer sends the dog to detain the assistant and follows.

After a brief struggle, the dog escorts the assistant. After 20 – 30 minutes the exercise is repeated. Subsequently, the dog is sent to search the premises without previous agitation.


At the end of the training course the dog should be able to:

* courageously pursue a subject, located in an enclosed area (with or without illumination) or moving at a distance of 200 – 300 meters, and detain him at various times of the day;

* fight a detained subject (armed, unarmed, calmly standing, sitting, lying down) both in the presence of and without the trainer;

* halt the attack on the assistant at the trainer’s signal, approach the trainer, sit next to him, and carefully hold the prisoner in place and during movement while off the leash;

* actively and courageously defend the trainer from a prisoner’s attack.


Potential trainer errors and their consequences:

1. Use by the assistant during the first and second training phases of strong mechanical stimuli that elicit cowardice in the dog instead of aggression.

2. Detaining an assistant always dressed in the same clothing (style, color), which develops in the dog the undesirable habit of showing excessive aggression towards anyone dressed similarly and elicits an uncertain reaction or a refusal to detain an individual in different clothing.

3. Conducting the “detain” lessons at the same site and at the same time, resulting in the dog working actively under familiar conditions but worse under other conditions.

4. The assistants always behaving in the same manner will lead to the formation of a conditioned reflex to only react and actively detain a subject that acts in a particular way.

5. Excessively frequent repetition of the “detain” exercises, without taking into consideration the individual characteristics of each dog. As a result a dog could develop an extremely aggressive reaction to all strangers and sometimes even to the trainer himself. Often the dog may become difficult to handle.