Search and Rescue Dog Trainer: Sarah Owen, 18 year veteran with search and rescue K-9.

ShortsQ: If I’m hiking with my dog and we get lost, is it true that she knows the way back to the car and I should let her lead the way?

A:
I would not discount that a dog could find its way back to the car if its owner has gotten turned around, especially in a familiar area, but I wouldn’t count on it either. Dogs are very adept at following from in front, so unless you had taught the dog a specific command for finding the car, it is more likely to follow the owner’s lead while the owner assumes otherwise when the dog is in front. Hikers get lost with dogs all the time. The dog is often credited with helping to keep the owners warm until the party is found. This is especially true of children who wander off. The family dog tends to be very protective and will stay with the child no matter what, sometimes even protecting the child from searchers.