Types of Dogs: TrailingAreaHRDWater


Trailing/Tracking Dogs

Referred to as “trailing” or “tracking” dogs, these dogs are trained to follow the scent of the missing or lost person. These dogs follow the path that the person walked.

These dogs use a “scent article” which can be anything containing the scent of the person – shoes, clothing, towels, sleeping bag, etc. The dog is given the scent article at the Place where the person was Last Seen (the PLS) and will then search for the path the missing or lost person walked. Once on “the trail” the dog will continue to follow the trail to the person.

Trailing dogs work on a long line held by their handlers and can be used in a variety of ways in addition to trailing a path from the PLS. The dogs can go to a location where the person may have been and search for their scent and pick up a path from there. Or the dogs can be sent ahead of another trailing dog in the same direction to intersections or trail forks to try to move the search forward quicker. They can also be used to try to eliminate intersections or trail forks when practical.

These dogs are trained to ride in helicopters and can be useful in going to more distant locations to try to pick up the trail of people who are believed to be far out in the wilderness. When trained properly and consistently these dogs are a great resource for the Search and Rescue command and effective at their job.

Area Dog

Area Dogs

Area dogs search for any person in a large area. They work off leash and range out away from their handler.

When the dog finds any person it returns to its handler and performs a trained “alert,” such as barking. The handler then instructs the dog to take them back to the person. Because these dogs are trained to find any person they are a great resource when there is no available scent article to provide the scent of the missing or lost person to a Trailing Dog. They are also very effective when a large wilderness area needs to be searched because they can cover a great distance.

Area Dogs’ human handlers keep the dogs working in a methodical manner taking into consideration terrain and weather conditions. Area Dog Handlers are particularly well trained and experienced in wilderness navigation and scent theory. When properly and consistently trained these dogs are a valuable resource for the Search and Rescue command.


HRD Dogs

As their description indicates, Human Remains Detection dogs find human remains.  Unfortunately, not all searches are for living people and sometimes people do not survive after becoming lost. However, finding all missing people is of the utmost importance and our dogs are trained for that purpose.

HRD dogs can work on leash or off and in the wilderness or smaller specific locations such as fields, yards and buildings.  When the HRD Dog locates human remains it performs a trained “alert” such as sitting or laying down.

Training an HRD dog takes additional care.  They are trained using actual human remains donated to our unit by individuals and groups who appreciate the value of such dogs to our community.  HRD Dogs are trained on a wide variety of tissue based material.  These dogs are trained to alert only on human remains as opposed to animal remains.

Water Dogs

Water search Dogs work on, in and around water searching for drown people or human remains. They can search from shorelines, in creeks, and on rivers and lakes. In some circumstances these dogs can also be effective on sound in areas where the water is not too deep and the currents not too strong. The handlers work the dogs either from the shoreline or in the boat.

Our Water Dogs works from specially fitted boats and learn to ‘drive’ the boat to the location where the scent is escaping the surface of the water (the “source”). With this information, Command can use known information about the specific body of water, such as temperature, depth, and current, to determine where the body or remains would most likely be found.

Some Water Dogs will jump out of the boat when they get close to the source and swim to the location where the odor is escaping the surface and swim a figure-eight around the source. Other dogs will remain in the boat and ‘drive’ the boat to the source. While these dogs do not need to swim to the source, they must be able to swim and pass tests demonstrating comfort in and around water. They may or may not wear flotation vests depending on the circumstances of their assignment.

Their handlers participate in significant training in order to not only work their dogs but also be safe and skilled at the tasks needed to search in and on the water.

Technical Support

In order for a dog team to be deployed, at least one certified Technical Support member must accompany the dog team. The “Tech Support” member is vital to the search. The Tech Support member is adapt in land navigation, first aid, radio communications, and survival.

Because the dog handlers job is to work their dog, which requires full attention to the dog, each dog team needs the assistance of the Tech Support member to insure their safety and to assist in communicating the teams location to Command and provide assistance to the lost or missing person when found.

Without Technical Support members our dog teams would be unable to do the job and the search effort would be without a significantly valuable resource. Technical Support members can be certified dog handlers, dog handlers in training, or members who do not intend to work a dog. They are equal and valued members of the dog team.

Once a “Senior Member” our Technical Support members are also qualified to run “Dog Ops” which is the commander of the dog unit on the scene of an actual search and rescue operation.