There are opportunities to train with any NSARDA Association as a Dog Handler, Dog Support / Navigator and to assist as a Dogs Body.

Dog Handlers usually can train up to two to three times per week. The training is undertaken locally, regionally and nationally.

  • Local training is arranged by the handler with his ‘bodies’.
  • Regional training will take place weekly or fortnightly and is organised by each Association.
  • National training is organised by each Association and typically takes the form of national courses, which take place monthly with varying locations from month to month.

Each Association has its own rules for membership so you need to contact your local NSARDA Association and find out what is involved.

To train a search dog usually takes about 2-3 years from new puppy to qualified Search Dog.

Joining your local Association

The usual process to join your local Association and start training (varies from Association to Association) is to:

  • volunteer as a ‘body’ for a period of time at training sessions.

Once you have satisfactorily completed this stage…

  • Dog Handlers will be invited to bring their dog along for an Acceptance and Stock Test.
  • Dog Supports / Navigators will be invited for an Acceptance Test.
  • Once you and your dog have passed these you will become a become a Trainee Dog Handler or Trainee Dog Support / Navigator, then the work really begins !

Note: Probationary periods often apply.

Training for Dog Handlers & their Dogs…

Training is divided into stages which have to be passed before going on to the next one.

It takes roughly 2 – 3 yrs to get you and your dog qualified and on the Call Out list and all members of the Association are involved in the training of each dog – bodies, qualified dog handlers and assessors.

It is therefore very important that as a trainee you put in the required time and effort into training your dog and also help others to train their dogs.

Progress is monitored and reviewed every month and a trainee is expected to attend 65% of the training available per year.

Before being put on the call out list you and your dog must be put forward for assessment. This is done over three days and you and your dog will have to successfully search a variety of different areas with a unknown number of bodies in each area.

Dogs and Handlers are then re-assessed after 12 months and then every three years to ensure they remain competent.

Note: Qualified dogs also have to undertake a number of training sessions each month.

Do note that Dog handlers are often required to be Full Members of a their local Mountain Rescue or Lowland Rescue Team.

There are often opportunities for people to attend training to act as ‘bodies’ and to see at first hand the capabilities of the dogs and what is required of the various roles.

Training for Dog Supports / Navigators

This follows a similar structure.

For more information contact any of our member organisations using the contact details on the team page.