At the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, our puppies start training from the day they join the program at eight weeks old, participating in age-appropriate exercises to gradually develop the skills they will need as working dogs. From that point, they spend at least eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, at the Center to learn the basics of search, agility, fitness, impulse control, obedience, and drive.
A Foundation in Scent Detection
Since we are a foundation program, we teach our dogs the basic skills necessary for a successful career in detection. We like to think of it as a liberal arts degree that will prepare them to go on to the advanced training that best suits their physical and behavioral strengths.
When they graduate from our program they will learn to apply their search skills to their specified target odor (i.e., explosives, drugs, medical detection).
After completion of foundation training, our dogs are prepared for careers in different disciplines, including:
- Urban search and rescue
- Human Remains Detection
- Dual purpose
- Single purpose
- Medical detection
- Ovarian cancer detection
- Explosive detection
- Narcotics detection
Searching With Confidence
To ensure they will succeed in any detection program, our dogs learn to confidently & independently search on and off leash.. They use “air scenting” to identify the slightest trace of odor and follow it to the source.
How a Dog Alerts
Detection dogs have two types of alerts. The first type is an active alert such as a scratch or bark. The second type is a passive alert such as a sit or down. The final alert each dog learns is determined by what odor the dog is trained to detect and the dog’s natural tendency to respond.