The use of pet wearables for search and rescue dogs helps both dogs and their handlers communicate effectively during search and rescue operations. The common goal of these wearables is to improve the means of communication between dogs and their handlers.

3 Forms of Pet Wearables

Pet wearables for search and rescue dogs come in three forms.

  • GPS trackers. They are used for locating the dogs easier, especially in far-flung and dangerous areas.
  • Activity trackers. They are used for monitoring the dogs’ activities such as walking, standing, and running.
  • Smart collars. They are often used for reading and monitoring the dogs’ health conditions, thoughts, and emotions.

Currently, the developed technologies only involve “one-way” communication between humans and dogs, where the dogs are the senders of signals to humans.

There is a technology called FIDO or Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations. Currently, FIDO is in the form of wearable vests or collars with sensors. Dogs are well trained to call for help by activating these sensors. These sensors send automated messages to their handlers and the rescue and recovery team.

GPS and GPS Tracker Facts

  • GPS, or Global Positioning System, consists of 30 orbiting satellite networks placed 20,000 km above the Earth.
  • It was created originally for US military navigation, but this system became readily available for everyone through mobile phones and handheld GPS units.
  • GPS works through trilateration, where the presence of three or more satellites transmits the current position of the GPS device. The more satellites surrounding the location, the more accurate the results will be.
  • GPS trackers for search and rescue dogs works like the GPS trackers for humans use.
  • GPS trackers come in different forms, such as vests or collars.

GPS Tracker Benefits for Search and Rescue Dogs

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The primary goal of a GPS tracker for search and rescue dogs is to help handlers locate and determine the speed of their dogs in real-time. This also helps them communicate easier during search and rescue operations.

Here are the benefits of GPS trackers for search and rescue dogs during search and rescue operations:

  • During the training stage of dogs for search and rescue operations, GPS trackers locate dogs and send transmitted data to the web or mobile phones.

With the help of some mobile applications that support GPS, the handler can set virtual boundaries for their dogs. When the dogs cross the boundaries, the GPS tracker sends an alert through the mobile application used by the handlers.

  • The use of GPS trackers for search and rescue dogs saves time during disasters.

The use of GPS trackers saves time because the search and rescue team can retrieve survivors or cadavers located by dogs with lesser time. Dogs do not need to go back and tell the handlers the actual locations of people. The handlers will be the ones to find the dogs.

  • The use of GPS trackers for search and rescue dogs is beneficial for wilderness tracking and during avalanche situations, where the weather is extremely hot or cold.

In case the dogs have to monitor large areas with extreme weather, a GPS tracker will make it easier for handles to keep them in check.

  • The use of GPS trackers for search and rescue dogs saves energy, for the dogs, the handlers, and the survivors.

With the help of the GPS trackers, the dogs do not need to keep coming back and forth. The handlers can locate their dogs faster. The survivors can already receive immediate medical attention once located by dogs and the whole search and rescue team.

  • The use of GPS trackers is not complicated if search and rescue dogs are well trained to operate their sensors.

Dogs can activate the sensors in as fast as 30 seconds.

Activity Tracker Facts for Search and Rescue Dogs

  • Activity trackers rely on accelerometers, which measure acceleration or the direction and speed of movements.
  • Movements detected are classified to three dimensions: forward and backward (X-axis), left and right (Y-axis), and up and down (Z-axis).
  • Through the wonders of mathematics, activity trackers can differentiate activities through the different patterns of the exerted force.
  • These patterns create pulses and are classified according to different axes.

Activity Tracker Benefits for Search and Rescue Dogs

Here are the benefits for using activity trackers for search and rescue dogs.

  • The use of activity trackers for search and rescue dogs helps measure their body movements and current surroundings.

This helps the handler know the current situations surrounding their dogs, such as whether the dogs are safe or in immediate danger. During risky situations like fire or flood, the immediate reaction of dogs is seen through abrupt movements. With activity trackers, their movements alert the handlers to respond more quickly.

  • The use of activity trackers for search and rescue dogs identifies their behavior patterns.

Dogs are also living beings, and they get exhausted. Their slow movements alert the handlers and the team to send backup or to find their dogs that might be injured during operations.

  • The use of activity trackers for search and rescue dogs can be accompanied by cameras.

For security purposes, the presence of dogs is less suspicious compared to human beings. This enables the search and rescue team to get their leads and prepare better tactics more safely during emergency situations.

Smart Collar Facts for Search and Rescue Dogs

  • Smart collars for search and rescue dogs can function as GPS trackers or activity trackers.
  • Sensors attached to smart collars for search and rescue dogs help monitor their health statuses and vital signs such as pulse, temperature, pain, respiration, heart rate levels, and calorie intake.

Smart Collar Benefits for Search and Rescue Dogs

 Here are the benefits of using smart collars for search and rescue dogs.

1. Smart collars for search and rescue dogs are easier and more compact to use than vests.

With smaller smart collars, dogs will find it easier to move around compared to when they are wearing bulkier vests.

2. Dogs will be more familiar with smart collars.

Dogs associate collars with safety since they know they are with their handlers. However, some dogs associate collars with a lack of freedom. Their association depends on the way they were trained.

3. During search and rescue operations, smart collars can help the team know and monitor the health situations of their dogs because dogs are known to hide their pain.

4. Smart collars are also helpful in determining the emotions and stress levels of search and rescue dogs.

These emotions show up in their behavior during search and rescue operations, which can have a positive or negative impact on the whole mission. The sensors of smart collars gather the dogs’ brain signals and interpret them as human language. Knowing their current emotions helps the team understand their dogs and create adjustments based on the results produced by smart collars.

5. Smart collars for search and rescue dogs with environmental sensors, cameras, and microphones can collect additional information about the area they are patrolling.

This helps the search and rescue team to know the current situations and the possible strategy they might need to carry out the search and rescue operations.

6. The use of smart collars can improve the relationship of search and rescue dogs and their handlers.

Dogs can trust their handlers more, while the handlers can treat and understand the dogs as human beings. Their communication is continually strengthened.

The Future of Search and Rescue Dog Wearables

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Pet wearables for search and rescue dogs have still a long way to go. Because of their limitations, here are the suggested possible future pet wearables for search and rescue dogs.

  • People must develop smart collars that allow both dogs and humans to communicate their messages with each other during search and rescue operations.

Through the use of applications in mobile devices or computers, humans can send instructions through sensors. Search and rescue dogs are trained to interpret the signals they received through these sensors, where every signal carries a distinct message or instruction for dogs. The instructions can make a difference in the outcome of the whole team’s search and rescue operations.

  • People must develop smart collars that can communicate detailed information found by search and rescue dogs.

For example, the dogs must accurately identify if the unknown object they found is a bomb or not. If the handlers accurately know the details because of the smart collar’s efficiency, the operations will be handled more safely.

  • There must be a wearable device for search and rescue dogs that can also send audio messages to trapped survivors.

This device works if search and rescue dogs activate their sensors to release an audio message template, assuring the nearby survivors that help is coming.

  • Since dogs bark, there must be wearable devices that can interpret the patterns of the sounds they make.

This device must be connected to body-monitoring sensors to validate what dogs want to say. If possible, the sounds they make must be easily translated to the human language.

Pet wearables for search and rescue dogs are not luxuries. Currently, they serve as helpful tools for rescue and recovery missions. These technologies have a long way go, but in the near future we could come up with a way to talk to animals directly.

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