How to get started in SAR? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-18-2008, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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How to get started in SAR?

I'm hoping that some of you on this forum can help me re: getting started in SAR work.

I have a 15 month old GSD, and when I got him, I planned to train him to be a therapy dog. We're working hard on basic OB. This dog has been exposed to just about everything I can expose him to in the normal course of things, and he's generally very good. His obedience is getting more solid all the time, although we still have a couple of issues to work out, but they are improving.

Ever since I was a kid I've been fascinated by working dogs (police K-9's, S&R, Cadaver dogs), and since Kodee is my first dog as an adult (I grew up with GSDs), I thought therapy work would be a good, easy place to start. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I would LOVE to do S&R. Initially I thought "I'll never be able to do that", but then I figured - "Why not? Everyone starts somewhere." (The older I get, the bolder I get. Ha!) I'm probably light years away from getting involved in S&R on a professional level, but I figured it wouldn't hurt anything to at least start doing research.

Today I ordered 2 books: <u>Search and Rescue Dogs: Training the K-9 Hero, Second Edition</u> and

<u>Training the Disaster Search Dog</u>

Do you think these books are pretty good? Would you recommend any different ones?

What I was wondering is: How do you get involved in S&R Training? Is it a years-long training process, or are their training courses for beginners to get started, at least? What would you suggest I do if I'm really interested in pursuing this (which I am)? I wouldn't have to get paid for it (although that would be a bonus ). I would be more than happy to volunteer if I could become trained and had a dog appropriate for that type of work. I have no idea if Kodee would be suited for that type of work or not, but I'd love to find out somehow.

I'm so excited that I finally got the nerve to look into it. It's been in the back of my mind since the minute I got Kodee Bear. Lately I've come to the realization that life is short and if you want to do something, you should just go for it. If any of you could give me some advice and point me in the right direction, I would be really grateful.

I live near Kansas City, KS, if that's helpful to anyone.

Thanks so much!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-19-2008, 01:05 AM
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Re: How to get started in SAR?

Here is a fun little assessment form for you to take that may answer some of your questions:

Jonathan & Benny

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-19-2008, 07:39 AM
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Re: How to get started in SAR?

Find out if there is a local sar group in your area. If there is, give them a call and see if you can go out to a training session and watch and be a subject if possible. SAR k9 units are always looking for subjects so are usually more than receptive to this. Talk to the handlers who will probably be at many different levels of training. Many units will require you to participate for 3 to 6 months without your dog. This is a good thing really as you will learn much from watching other teams and learning what you like in their techniques and what will not work for you. Often they will ask you to bring out your dog for evaluation and will give you tips to work on before they start their official training.
It can take a year or two (depending on the dog and handler) to acheive your chosen area certification. Look to the most experienced handlers to guide you in the area or multiple areas of work that you and your dog would succeed best in. For example even though my area search dog has been exposed to cadaver she doesn't like it and I would never try to cross train her to work it.
Disaster work requires very specialised training and the task force teams are something you could work up to in the future, for your first dog and experience look for a SAR unit that does Urban search and wilderness work.
A couple of books I like are Scent and the scenting dog, and Ready!
I am so glad you are considering this. I hope you understand that once you are in you will be busy, broke but happy. Not only is it a very needed service but a way to acheive a level of team work and partnership with your dog that you have never experienced before.
I tell new handlers that when they have reached a true level of teamwork with their k9 partner it is like watching and experiencing a dance. It is a fantastic experience. Good luck to you and to Kodee.

Sharon, Mom to
Lexi CGC (Cert. area search)
Neko CGC (Cert. HRD)
Justice CGC (trailing),
BOLO, Bloodhound CGC(trailing)
Titan, Shilo Shepherd (beginning area search)
Kibby(Rodie mix)
Lil Bear and Izzy and Louie(Pom's)
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-07-2008, 09:30 AM
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Re: How to get started in SAR?

where in KS are you? I am in KS too and thinking seriously about SAR also. We have a lady here at work that does SAR (and she runs the rescue group I got my gsd from) so we have been talking to her about getting involved. I work for the local law enforcement too so I am sure they will not mind if I get a "call out" during work. If you are near Wichita let me know and I can get you the information on Sedgwick County search and rescue team.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-28-2009, 11:15 PM
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Re: How to get started in SAR?

If you go onto the CARDA website, it will have alot of really useful information for specifically K9 SAR, good books and other general information.

Also check out the NASAR website.

They will give you a good foundation for not only locating local groups in your area to train with, but are nationally recognized for standard.
FEMA also has some useful information in regards to their standards and books to reference.
Good luck with SAR.


Dogs have a lot to communicate to a person who is willing to listen- Susan Butcher
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015, 01:43 PM
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Kbigge- Did you ever get into SAR? I'm looking into it now and ran across this thread today. What ever happened? 😀
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015, 03:46 PM
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This thread is over five years old, the original poster is not an active member here anymore. Some good info here though for those considering SAR.

NobleLady, feel free to start your own thread in the SAR section with any questions you may have, you'll get more help this way than posting on an old resurrected thread that will now be locked.


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