Dogs with a strong play drive are preferred, dogs that like games of fetch and will work for rewards. In training, dogs are rewarded with play and treats when they locate an acting victim; in an actual search, the victim often cannot respond when found, so handlers must be quick to provide the praise, often in a low-key manner after removing the dog from the vicinity of the find. Dogs are trained to follow the scent in different terrain and weather conditions and to identify cadaver scent in bodies of water. Their skills are sharpened through regular training sessions and by handlers with daily training at home.
Several breeds in the sporting, hound, and working groups can be very suitable for search and rescue. We suggest that the handler determine which breed(s) they believe would best suit their lifestyle as this puppy will be a member of their household for the life of the puppy.
Training a SAR dog is constant and can be very demanding. It can take anywhere from 1-3 years before a canine is field-ready, and involves hard work on both the canine's and the handler's part.
Inevitably, some of our four-legged partners pass on, so we have created a K9 memorial page to remember those hard working members of our Team, without whom, none of this would be possible.