In 1989, Ferruccio Pilenga opened a school for “life guard dogs”. Pilenga, together with his inseparable Terranova named MAS (the only dog in Italy with a SICS certificate recognised by the Ministry – In Switzerland, France and Italy is a third degree), experimented the assistance of dogs on survey boats and sea rescue by helicopter both in Italy and abroad and got  official recognition from Port Authorities and  Coast Guards.


Two techniques in comparison, the French one and the Italian. The defects of the first and the revolution of the second.

There are two philosophies on how the dogs should be trained. One is French where a rubber tube is used for the dog to retrieve. This is used at first on land, then when the dog understands what to do it is used in water. Complex exercises create an affective relationship between the dog and the rubber tube. For the pleasure of retrieving the tube the dog will forget the danger of water.

However this system does not teach to swim side by side with the handler, so important in rescue techniques, nor will it learn where to safely anchor the wrecked or how not to scratch him. For months the dog will not be converted to human company in water.

According to the Italian system, studied  on the Iseo lake by the Dog Training Centre to Water Rescue, it is wasting training time doing this as they believe and train by using the handler instead of the rubber tube. Any puppy is tied to its master and will easily win the water fear to retrieve him. Difficulties were great at beginning but  to be in the water together makes it easier to go onto the next stage where dog and handler swim together far enough apart not to touch each other unless necessary. This experience is gratifying both for the master and for the animal and links one to the other for ever.