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Training a Search and Rescue Dog

    Training a Search and Rescue Dog

    Your tiny kipper has found and recovered snacks from between the couch cushions. You suppose he may become a search and rescuer. You may be overestimating your dog’s seek-and-find abilities. Perhaps not.

    SAR dogs are various sizes. Most choose Bloodhounds, German Shepherds, and Retrievers, but personality, training, and a close bond with their handler are key to success. If you’re thinking check, check, check, it may be time to investigate how these remarkable canines are trained.

    The Function of a Search and Rescue Dog

    Searching, finding, and rescuing are the steps. These dogs are trained to find missing individuals and work after natural catastrophes including earthquakes, floods, avalanches, and the 2001 World Trade Center canine teams.

    SAR canines, like you, are trained to explore large areas that would take a search team days to traverse. They can quickly locate a smell and save lives. Thus, this kind of dog is taught to track people by smell, footprints, or “air scent,” which would be employed after a natural catastrophe to find survivors rather than particular individuals.

    After finding the person, a SAR dog is taught to sit, remain, and bark or return to the handler and guide them to the spot.


    Remember that any breed may qualify for this specific training? Here, we start identifying your pet’s physical needs, talents, and duties.

    Size and Strength– Your dog must be in good condition, a medium-to-large breed, and have powerful legs and a solid body since he may have to work in hard terrain. Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers are acceptable.

    Above-Average Olfactory Sense — SAR dogs must swiftly pick up a smell and trace it over vast distances, in all weather, and sometimes days after it was abandoned. Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds, and Beagles are acceptable.

    Motivated and high-energy—having the persistence and problem-solving abilities to seek regardless of weather, terrain, or time. Malinois, Coonhounds, and Giant Schnauzers are acceptable.

    Intelligent and Concentrated — Rescue dogs must be single-minded, focused, and not easily sidetracked. Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers are acceptable.

    Responsive and Trainable — in a crisis, a SAR dog must receive orders swiftly, concentrate on the job, and react rapidly to changing situations. Standard Poodles, Border Collies, and Pointers are ideal.


    Because dogs are inquisitive, “hunters,” and tenacious, you probably already meet many of these qualities. As the preceding credentials illustrate, this position requires more than simply willingness. You with your dog. After passing the fundamentals, the tough certification procedure starts. Professional trainers are needed here.

    Before you and your dog can work in urban search and rescue, FEMA requires national certification. To ensure your dog is physically and emotionally ready for this vital task, it’s usually done after 2 years. Certification must be renewed every three years.

    Below are a few basic methods to prepare you and your pet for harder training. It’s a preliminary exam to evaluate whether your dog can proceed.


    Sit, Stay, Lay Down, Leave It, and Heel are the initial steps to making your dog a SAR superstar. If he’s not there yet, you’ll need to work on him before moving on to the next level, which may take up to 600 hours to get your dog field ready.

    Scent Tracking

    This duty is like home games to your dog. You reward him for finding something. He finds a person by following their fragrance via a personal article of clothing (who has hidden several yards away). Gradually increase time and distance to teach your dog ground and air scent tracking.


    Once he can follow a scent, add difficulties like other dogs, animals, bad weather, and noise. To encourage ground scenting, bury or hide treats.

    After mastering these abilities, your dog will be ready for SAR training, where he’ll be assessed on agility, tenacity, readiness to continue in adverse circumstances, and targeted barking to his handler.

    Handler training may involve CPR, navigation, crime scene preservation, and more. These skills, search techniques, mapping, briefing, and dog handling will be examined.

    What Happens Next?

    After certification, you and your dog must register and disclose your contact information to local search and rescue groups. You’ll thereafter be on call. Below are several nationally recognised SAR organisations that provide training, testing, and certification.

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