Back to All Events

Enhancing the Reward Event: Channeling drive and building motivation in the Disaster K9 (Virginia Beach, VA)

  • Virginia Beach, VA (map)

This course is designed to enhance the knowledge, skills and abilities of individuals responsible for training dogs for live find disaster search and rescue operations. The course will focus on creating the proper foundation techniques to develop the skilled canine helper and to develop or enhance the behaviors required for the modern live find disaster search dog.

This course is highly beneficial for prospective handlers, experienced Canine Search Specialists and support personnel assisting with the training of a live find disaster search dog.

The course consists of 100% practical field exercises and will be physically demanding for course participants. Course activities focus on canine and human behavior, how dogs learn, proper execution for selection, timing and delivery of rewards. The course emphasizes the importance of developing and executing strategies with individual dogs based on their breed, natural motivators and level of experience. The course is most suitable for dogs 1 year of age and older but flexible enough to accommodate dogs of younger ages and a variety of experience levels.

Participants will engage in group activities and discussions as they rotate through a sequence of work stations. Stations are designed to allow participants opportunity to be both interactive, observe, and conduct multiple repetitions with search dogs of various ages, breeds, levels of experience.

Each exercise is designed to improve both the helper and the dog’s performance. Participants will advance their knowledge of how to develop, communicate and execute customized training plans to meet defined training objectives for individual dogs participating in the course.

Participants will assist with transitional prop design and construction using light debris materials as they advance through a variety of training evolutions.

Lead instructor: Darrell Wilkerson, Program Director/ Head Trainer at Ground Zero Emergency Training Center