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Resilience is far more that environmental soundness and social ability. Resilience is the ability to continue to perform functional training under stresses that are both natural and artificial. The typical pet dog spends most of its days in very calm and familiar places. The working detection dog lives his life in almost an opposite environment to the pet dog. The detection dog works in fast paced, heavily trafficked, unpredictable, loud, and distracting environments. These are not the places the dog rests, eats, and where they spend their relaxation time.

In my current training project, I am seeing significant differences in performance from the older dog with better resilience,  as compared to  the younger dog that is still developing.  What stresses are they going through? We have had two females in heat, our daytime temperatures are reaching the century mark with 60%-80% humidity, the dogs are working outside (wind, bugs, people and vehicles passing by), where they work there is random industrial noise from the adjacent property and elsewhere (heavy equipment, trucks, sirens, aircraft, church bells), the yard also has active kenneled dogs 30 feet from where they are working. They are also learning to work in a harness (a change) for the current project. If I anthropomorphized, I could end every session with justifications of why it’s just too difficult.

This photo is of the canine training campus shared by the Department of Defense Military Working Dog program and the Transportation Security Administration’s Canine Training Center. The green outline are the kennels housing more than 700 dogs and the yellow area is the training campus which houses training laboratories of every configuration, train cars, buses and cars for searching, airplane fuselages and exercise areas. Add in a logistic section and a veterinary hospital and you have a very busy environment. This is typical of what you may encounter when you have your dog assessed for procurement. Hundred of people and hundreds of dogs ebbing and flowing all day long.

Evaluate how will you are preparing you dog to be resilient.