About Search Dogs
Search Dog Training
Training search dogs and helping others with their training is what we do! We are a dedicated group of professional volunteers with many years of experience in search and rescue, dog training, team development, and leadership growth. We believe that quality training and education results in more competent K9s and handlers.
K9s are a vital tool in search and rescue efforts, and their refined sense of smell, and ability to move quickly and fluidly through rough terrain make them a uniquely effective tool in challenging or extreme environments.
Training a quality search dog is not easy nor is it fast. It can take up to two years to get a dog to operational status. And the training will continue for the remainder of the dog’s working life.
We have K9s certified or in training in all the major search dog disciplines as well as in historical human remains detection and diabetic alert.
Examples of K9 Disciplines
Airscent K9s (also known as Live Find or Area) use airborne human scent to locate and lead searchers to a lost subject. They typically work off-leash and are able to search large areas of terrain quickly, thus working as a force multiplier to search teams. Some airscent K9’s work scent-discriminating, meaning they search for the scent of a specific person.
Avalanche K9s are trained to airscent subjects buried under snow. While the priority for Avalanche K9s is to find and pinpoint live subjects, many can also detect subjects that are deceased.
Historical search K9s are specifically trained to locate very, old, faint odor of human remains. They can be used to locate historic and prehistoric human remains and, with their specialized skills, can be a unique asset to law enforcement in deployment on old cold cases and clandestine graves. Use of historical K9s can create synergy across science disciplines and often involves collaboration between forensics anthropologists, archeologists, and other specialized areas.
Trailing K9s rely on scent deposited on the ground, buildings, or foliage as they pass through an area. These K9s are scent-discriminating and will search for one particular person’s scent. They generally work on-lead and are highly effective in urban-type searches.
Disaster K9s are used to locate victims of catastrophic or mass-casualty events such as earthquakes, landslides, and building collapses. These K9s are specifically trained to move through unstable and hazardous terrain to quickly locate live victims who may be trapped under debris. HRD (cadaver) disaster K9s are used for recovery operations of deceased victims.
Field support, also known as Flankers, are one of the hidden treasures of search dog work. These are the people that hide in the woods for hours, or climb down in rubble holes, so the dogs can find them during training scenarios. On a search their job is to assist with navigation and communications while helping to keep the whole team safe.
Human Remains Detection
Human Remains Detection K9s are trained to detect the odor of human decomposition. HRD K9s – sometimes referred to as “Cadaver” K9s – focus on finding recently deceased bodies while forensically trained HRD K9s go through more specialized training, typically to find trace materials such as blood, tissue, hair, and bones. These K9s may work on or off lead.
Water search K9s will typically search for drowning victims by boat. When a body is under water, skin particles and gases rise to the surface so K9s can smell a body even when it is totally immersed.
Other Types Of Detection