The Importance of Human Remains Detection Dogs

The importance of (HRD) Human Remains Detection dogs during a time of crisis is unimaginable, everyone needs closure is and understatement for families who have lost their loved ones.  The not knowing creates haunting images and questions by the family and friends of:

Are they ok?

Are they suffering?

What happened?

They need to be home regardless of the outcome for a bittersweet ending! This is where many HRD handlers or cadaver dog handlers get their motivation to participate and often times volunteer for such an emotional event.  However, training a HRD dog is so much fun!  There is a misconception that you train with dead bodies just lying around the premises…. too much TV glam!.  When actually, you start with the basics of:  hair, tissue, blood samples, teeth (these are easy to get when you are a tooth fairy with your children) finger nail clippings, and bones just to name a few.  As you progress in your training and keep in mind a working dog’s training is never done, you will get into more complex burials, scatters, and even burned substance.  You also have to proof your canine off of the remains of over deceased animals and stages of decay.

So what breed of dog makes a great human remains detection canine?  You are looking for a dog with high drive and lots of motivation for a toy!   Your working dog must have excellent obedience and well socialized with people, noises, and animals.  At Highland Canine Training we are not breed specific we have used several breeds such as;  Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois,  Jack Russell’s, Border Collies, and mixed breeds from the shelter.  Training your dog in obedience and socialization must start at an early age, preferably when they have all their vaccinations completed.

Handlers of cadaver dogs must be able to work independent and have self motivation.  Handlers should have a clear understanding of reading their dog,  understanding the process of human remains decay, as well as crime scene preservation.  Many working dog handlers may train for years without being called out to a single event or situation, however, your training must not become lax and handlers must keep the mindset that you could get called out tomorrow. Working dog handlers must understand the importance of impeccable record keeping as some of you may testify in local, state, and/or federal court depending on the case.  Many people believe that working a cadaver dog makes the dog depressed.  We have worked many dogs on a day to day basis and they seem to enjoy what they do in training.  Often times what happens is that during a real call out the dog handlers get anxious or emotional and their canine partners seem to pick up the fact that their master is upset.

Cadaver training aids can be easily attained but you definitely have to network to have more variety for your training scenarios. For example, hair can be easily obtained from you local beauty salons and barbers as well as teeth from your local dentist office.  Tissue can be obtained from biopsy laboratories, hospitals, and some morgues. Friends are also a great way to get training aids like blood samples, after birth, finger nail clippings, etc.  pseudo training aids are available online as well as purchasing human bones out of Asia. You must also have a separate freezer to store these training aids as well as various training areas to set up scenarios.

If you are interested in purchasing a Human Remains Detection dog or learning how to train one from the ground up please contact Highland Canine Training for all your working dog training needs.