Search and Rescue Dog Training

Proven and effective programs - helping SAR teams across the nation

Dogs have a very special role in the world of Search and Rescue. Their amazing sense of smell, enhanced hearing, night vision, endurance and adaptability have continually proven to be invaluable in the effort to locate missing, lost or injured people.

Owing to their extraordinary abilities, search and rescue dogs have several benefits. SAR dogs can often reduce the time spent searching, therefore increasing the chances that the missing person will be found alive. Experts estimate that a single dog team can be as effective as 20 to 30 trained human searchers in locating a missing person in a given period of time.

Search and Rescue dogs can be trained for:

  • Tracking
  • Trailing
  • Air scenting
  • Urban search
  • Wilderness
  • Land cadaver
  • Water cadaver

Some Search and Rescue dogs can be cross-trained in a number of these areas.

Are you and your dog ready for SAR training?

Lives often depend on the capabilities of Search and Rescue teams – particularly in disasters or critical incidents. At Highland Canine Training, LLC, we know the importance of offering the most comprehensive Search and Rescue training courses available.

Our training facility has a fully functional rubble pile, a regulation FEMA agility course, and a pond for cadaver training. We also have thousands of acres of wilderness, several large bodies of water and access to several different rubble piles within minutes of our facility.

search and rescue dog training

Whether you’re called to find a missing child or Alzheimer’s patient, or you’re providing assistance in the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane, we can provide you with the search and rescue training you need to become an effective SAR team.

Our Search and Rescue Dog Training

Our SAR dog training methods are progressive and taught by active search and rescue dog handlers. Our dogs have been trained in some of the most rigorous environments on the east coast. Some of these dogs have proven themselves during natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, as well as man-made disasters across the country.

At Highland Canine Training, LLC, we understand that the majority of Search and Rescue handlers and teams across the country operate on a volunteer basis. Therefore, we offer affordable dogs and training to meet the needs of most SAR teams. All of our Search and Rescue training programs come with a comprehensive handler course. Our goal is to provide each team with the necessary tools and knowledge to be a productive Search and Rescue team.  

Our instructors are volunteer Search and Rescue K-9 handlers and certified SARTECHs by the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR). As such, we can provide you with full trained Search and Rescue dogs in a variety of breeds. Our Search and Rescue courses and certification programs are perfect for those interested in becoming a trainer for their team, training their own SAR dog, or pursuing a career in training Search and Rescue dogs themselves. Our School for Dog Trainers offers a variety of programs to teach you how to train Search and Rescue dogs.

trailing dog

If you already own a dog that you are considering for Search and Rescue training, give us a call and we will be happy to assist you in evaluating your dog. Our evaluation fee is $100, and we will be happy to give you advice and training options for your potential SAR dog. We often train Search and Rescue dogs for private individuals, in addition to members of fire, police and sheriff’s departments. Some of our SAR trainers across the country also offer foundational Search and Rescue group training classes.

If you already have a SAR K-9, we offer in-service training, problem solving, American Red Cross Pet CPR and First Aid certification, Search and Rescue seminars and a comprehensive handler course.

Contact us today to discuss your individual or team needs!

Tracking/Trailing Dog Training

Tracking and Trailing dogs are capable of following human odor over great distances. Tracking and Trailing dogs are, by far, the most utilized of all search and rescue dogs. 

These dogs are trained to track/trail on various terrains such as grass, gravel, concrete, asphalt, sand and wooded areas – otherwise known as VST or Variable Surface Tracking. Tracking/Trailing dogs are a valuable asset in locating missing children, Alzheimer’s patients and other missing people. 

They can also be taught to conduct scent line-ups and suspect identifications.

tracking trailing dog training

Our Tracking and Trailing handler course typically lasts for two weeks and provides training on equipment types and proper use, proper handling skills, understanding negative indications, understanding and managing training variables, basic and advanced scent theory, record keeping and report writing, proper maintenance training, as well as K9 first aid and CPR. Our handler schools also provide the handler with ample hands-on training with a variety of dogs to ensure that they are capable of reading and understanding tracking and trailing dogs.

Urban Search and Rescue Dog Training

disaster dog training

USAR, Disaster or Urban Search and Rescue Dogs are trained to search for live humans in various environments. These dogs are utilized to search collapsed buildings and other structures after tornadoes, earthquakes and other disasters. Urban search and rescue dogs take a considerable amount of training and require a huge commitment on the part of the handler to maintain. 

These search dogs are trained to be comfortable on collapsed buildings and other unstable footings such as roofing and rubble. USAR dogs are typically trained in agility, on and off leash obedience, in addition to distance (directional) control. Disaster dogs are capable of performing in the rigorous and harsh environments that are created by the disaster scenes they are required to perform in.

Our Urban Search and Rescue Dog handler courses include training in search methods and strategies, understanding training variables, basic and advanced scent theory, managing disasters and critical incidents, K-9 First Aid and CPR, record keeping and maintenance training. Our courses offer the handler a great deal of practical, hands-on training to ensure that they are comfortable working with their USAR dog in the field.

Wilderness Search and Rescue Dog Training

Wilderness SAR dogs are trained to locate individuals in rugged terrain that is generally difficult for human searchers to navigate. Wilderness search dogs are typically trained in agility as well as on and off lead obedience for complete control. 

These dogs generally work off lead as air-scenting dogs to locate lost or missing individuals quickly and reliably. Wilderness search dogs can be trained with a bark and hold indication or a re-find alert.

wilderness search and rescue dog

 Our Wilderness Search and Rescue Dog handler courses offer instruction in basic and advanced scent theory, K-9 variables, proper handling techniques, proper search patterns and methodology as well as record keeping and maintenance training. These courses provide hands-on training in some of the most rugged environments that the east coast has to offer.

Cadaver Dog Training

cadaver dog training

HRD, Human Remains Detection or Cadaver dogs are trained to locate various types of human remains such as flesh, hair, bone, blood, teeth, etc. Cadaver dogs are trained to indicate on human odor in various states of decomposition.

Cadaver detection dogs are trained in a variety of demanding environments to ensure their reliability in the field. These dogs can be trained to indicate with a passive (sit) or active (scratch) alert. We offer dogs trained for both land cadaver and water cadaver detection.

Our cadaver dog courses are designed to teach the handler information on proper handling, reading and understanding cadaver dogs, basic and advanced human decomposition, record keeping, evidence handling, cadaver dog case law, liability with cadaver dogs, K-9 First Aid and CPR as well as proper handling and storing training aids.