How Are Bloodhound Dogs Used to Find Missing People?

by Lisa Newcomb
    Bloodhounds have a natural instinct to track scents.

    Bloodhounds have a natural instinct to track scents.

    Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

    Bloodhounds have been used to track missing people for centuries. Their keen sense of smell and physical features such as long, floppy ears and loose skin help them find and follow scents humans cannot. Training a bloodhound to track people can be challenging, but with persistence and the right techniques, any bloodhound can be trained to do this.

    Step 1

    Bond with your dog. Creating a strong bond between you and your bloodhound will ensure it can trust you and you can trust it. Spend as much time with your dog as you can.

    Step 2

    Teach your bloodhound basic commands such as sit, stay, come, heel and lie down. These are commands every dog should know, and the training process is fairly easy. It involves repetition and positive rewards.

    Step 3

    Teach your dog another set of basic commands specifically tailored to search dogs. These include "track," "leave it," "wait" and "get to work," according to Roxanne Chandler and Terri Heck, of the American Bloodhound Club.

    To teach "track," have your runner create a trail about 25 feet long. Cue your dog to "track" and praise it when it follows the scent. Eventually lengthen the trail and the age of the trail (such as from one hour to five hours, etc.)

    "Get to work" is a good command that lets your dog know when it's time to focus on tracking. This will help your dog understand when it is time to play and when it is time to work.

    Step 4

    Introduce scent articles for your bloodhound to track. Have the dog smell the article and place it out of sight but not far away. Tell your dog to track. Praise the dog profusely when it finds the object.

    Step 5

    Vary the length and age of the trails of both objects and runners, but never vary the length and the age at the same time.

    Step 6

    Increase the distractions in your dog's search. Track in different places, outdoors and inside buildings. Increase noise distractions such as traffic and construction work.

    Items You Will Need

    • Scent items (for your dog to track)
    • Runners (partners to create a scent trail)
    • Leash
    • Harness

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Lisa Newcomb is a former newspaper editor turned letterpress printer. She has a B.A. in communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

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