Training the Dog
How do we do it? Our team follows a general progression of training steps, always with the final goal in mind. Since each dog and handler are different, and each team works differently together, the training plan is always modified to fit the needs of the team. The process of training the disaster search dog can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the skill of the handler, the drive and disposition of the dog, and the amount of time the team can devote to training.
Training the Handler
Ever seen the bumper sticker that says “Caution—dog smarter than handler”? Although our dogs are independent in spirit and know their jobs well, we spend quite a bit of time working on our handler skills and knowledge. It takes a well-trained handler to manage the dog’s search and ensure that the dog is able to work in the most effective manner possible. Also, since disaster search is an inherently dangerous process, handlers must learn how to assess scene safety in order to minimize the risk to themselves and their dogs.
See our dogs and people at work learning their craft! Training is rigorous and rewarding.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency currently has 28 Task Forces throughout the United States, which are ready to deploy to large-scale disasters on a moment’s notice, anywhere on US soil. A crucial part of the search operations of a Task Force is canine search, and FEMA has set up a highly competitive and stringent certification process to ensure that each of its disaster dogs is capable of excellent performance under the most demanding circumstances.
Both NDSD and FEMA have required individual equipment lists.