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’ 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.
Rescue air-scenting search dogs and their handlers are trained to national standards to find missing people.
Lowland Rescue teams currently have over 35 operational search dogs across the UK. SELSAR at the moment have 9 dogs in training to become operational, It takes over 2 years of training for most dogs to pass the strict assessment criteria which gives the maximum probability that they will find a vulnerable person in a given search area, and the , process of training a dog is one which requires full commitment from their handler.
Unlike Police dogs, Lowland Rescue search dogs are all pets first, and then trained as search dogs by their owners (who must be experienced Lowland Rescue team members first). All Lowland Rescue dog handlers are professional volunteers who are not paid for their time, fuel or personal equipment.
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.
SELSAR will train you in these techniques and the standard set by Lowland Rescue 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.