Dog Handlers

Search and rescue handlers are often volunteers. They must be physically fit, enjoy the outdoors, have time for training and searches, and take pleasure in training and communicating with their dogs. Handlers may raise money for equipment, seminars, and travel, but they spend their own money to maintain their readiness and their dogs. Equipment costs add up. Along with working harnesses, long lines, and vests for the dogs, handlers need appropriate clothes for the weather and terrain, radios, flashlights with spare batteries, food if the search is likely to take days in remote terrain, a hard hat, a compass, a pack to carry items on the trail, and other items.

The teams: Every year there are national seminars and evaluations of dogs for skills in building searches, article searches, area searches, trailing, cadaver searches, and three skill levels of trailing. The national and international attention showered on search and rescue dogs attracts owners looking to gratify their own egos by participating in a high-profile volunteer activity. But handlers are evaluated as closely as dogs to weed out those who let their desire for the spotlight interfere with the job as well as those who cannot emotionally handle the toll of working with disaster victims. Ego distracts people from a critical aspect of a search – reading the dog. Each dog has different cues that tell the handler that it is getting close to the quarry, that it is confused or unsure, or that it is tired. A handler must understand and trust his dog's cues to know when to proceed and when to quit and not be worried about the TV cameras or other such distractions.

Search Rescue Dogs Puppy's Life Stages Puppy's body language All about search and rescue dogs Training Process Tracking Dogs Trailing Dogs that search by scent Disaster strikes Search Rescue Rescue Dogs Handlers A dog's best ally Retrieving Tracking Training Search Bark Alert The Basics Search rescue SAR dog SAR jobs SAR Dogs Water Rescue Dogs Water Rescue Wilderness Search Dogs Rescue Missions Search Strategies Avalanche Rescue Avalanche Rescue Missions Canine training Techniques Environmental Technical Analysis Aptitude tests Signaling a dog Dog Training Practice "victims" dog rescue training tips Signaling phase Search buried person Dog Stimulus Chained search Blocking technique Techniques Feasible Localization Technique Support Chained search no body Basic behavior Emergency notice Recognizing catastrophe Security Rescue Different Structural Intervention plan Search-Rescue Operations Rope Knots Ascending rappel equipment techniques Rescue guides Rescue Maps Injured Victims Search and Rescue Medical Emergencies SAR dog accidents SAR dog injured SAR dog broken bones SAR Dog Shock Bloated SAR Dog Hazardous poisoning Heimlich maneuver Diarrhea Dog fainting dog drowning Dog frostbite Heat stroke Dog asphyxiation Electric shock Artificial respiration Poisons Dog insect stings Poisoning Bleeding Bone Fractures