Search Dogs need highly dedicated, professional Dog Handlers. It takes a great deal of dedication and persistence with training to get a dog up to assessment standard.
Before becoming a trainee dog handler all handlers will have been volunteering as a ‘body’ for at least 4-6 months before beginning to train their dog. This is necessary to gain a better understanding of the training and to get to know the rest of the team.
The entry requirements for becoming a dog handler vary slightly from Association to Association according to whether you will be working in a Mountain or Lowland Area.
In general to become a trainee dog handler in mountainous areas you must be proposed and supported by a Mountain Rescue (MR) Team and have been a full time member of that MR Team for more than 12 months.
This is because during training and upon qualification you will be expected to be familiar with MR techniques, and operate in potentially severe and dangerous environments.
The MR Team trains you in these techniques, where the association covers the dog training.
In general to become a trainee dog handler in a lowland area you must be a member of a Lowland Rescue (LR) Team and have qualified as a Search Technician or Team Leader and will have been a full time member of that LR Team for more than 6 months.
This is because during training and upon qualification you will be expected to be familiar with lowland search and rescue techniques.
The LR Team will train you in these techniques and the NSARDA Association covers the dog and handler training.
This may appear as really restrictive requirements, but peoples lives depend on the provision of a demonstrably high quality service, and it really is all worth it in the end.
It usually takes a minimum of 2 Years to become a dog handler.
Member associations are always happy to hear from experienced search and rescue personnel, who are interested in training a search dog. If you don’t have search and rescue experience, but would still like to become a Dog Handler, Dog Support / Navigator or Body, do please get in touch with us or your nearest NSARDA Association directly.
For more information contact your nearest NSARDA Association using the contact details on their page.