Search Dog Teams need highly dedicated, professional Dog Supports / Navigators. It takes a great deal of dedication and time to fulfil this role.
The Dog Support / Navigator will learn the same skills as the Dog Handler in terms of Navigation, Radio, First Aid, Stretchers, Ropes etc., and dealing with members of the family / public but obviously not the training and handling of the dog.
Before becoming a trainee all Trainee Dog Supports / Navigators will have been volunteering as a ‘body’ for at least 4-6 months before commencing training. 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 Support / Navigator vary slightly from Association to Association, according to whether you will be working in a Mountain or Lowland Area.
In general to become a Dog Support / Navigator in mountain areas you must be proposed and supported by a Mountain Rescue Team and have been a full time member of that Mountain Rescue 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.
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 takes approximately 1 – 2 Years to become a Dog Support / Navigator.
NSARDA Associations are always happy to hear from experienced search and rescue personnel, who are interested in supporting Dog Teams. If you don’t have search and rescue experience, but would still like to become a Dog Support / Navigator or would like to be a Dog Handler or Dogs Body, do please get in touch.
For more information contact your nearest NSARDA Association using the contact details on their page.