Search & Rescue, Tracking and Trailing Dogs

A man with Alzheimer's wanders from his home, a hiker goes missing, a trapped family desperately tries to escape flood waters. The National Association for Search & Rescue indicates that the ability to save a life is often dependent upon how quickly the person can be found and accessed. But, providing enough well-equipped and well-trained search and rescue professionals is a daunting task.

People often say they want to teach their dog to find lost kids and things. They notice their dogs love to use their noses, and naturally think this would be a good thing to do. It's a great thought, but not really practical. Search & Rescue is very rewarding, but it requires quite a serious commitment on your part.

You will need to train at least 15 hours a week. This includes being a victim and also learning how to find one, which could mean spending hours hiding in tick-infested brush in the dark. You will also need to learn all the skills required to actually head out and find someone, such as, map reading, compass skills, first responder aid (extremely advanced "first aid"), and radio skills. And, you will need to go out in all kinds of weather and conditions during your training.

Finally, you'll need to commit much time and money to this project. It takes about two years to fully train a dog, costs reaching into the thousands of dollars depending on how much camping, outdoor, and dog gear you've already got.

Now, to see if your dog has what it takes, administer Jona Decker's PAWS Working Dog Evaluation© which tests for Possessiveness, Attention, Willingness, and Strength.

This Alpine Meadows video from February 5, 2008 features search and rescue dog training in conjunction with the Placer County Sherriff Search and Rescue, and the Placer County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Tahoe Dog Team. It was a real carnival for the dogs with helicopter rides, treasure hunts in the snow and non-stop games all designed to train them to sniff out and save buried avalanche victims.

Important to Know
Harry Oakes, a founder of Oregon & Southwest Washington State's group, International K-9 Search & Rescue Services for Missing People and Pets, specializes in locating, rescuing, and recovering people and animals anywhere in the world. He details very specifically how Search & Rescue (SAR) Dogs are used to find pets, and how to ID your Golden before it is lost.

Harry also has some wonderful guidelines for finding missing pets. Also, click here to learn about making up a lost dog poster.



Golden SAR Dog ShaneColoring Book picture of ShaneHug-a-Tree and Survive is a program for children on how to keep from getting lost, how to stay comfortable if they do get lost, and how they can help the searchers to locate them. The main features of the program involve impressing upon kids that they can help by looking after themselves and assisting the searchers.

Parents, please check out A Kid's Wilderness Survival Primer, go through the Hunter Search & Rescue Dog pages, and print out the Hug-A-Tree and Survive Coloring Book as these lessons can make a search short and successful.
Hey Kids!

Meet Shane, a Canadian Search Dog Association SAR Dog. Their motto is "Fide Canem" which is Latin for "Trust the Dog". A fundamental rule in canine search and rescue, it 's typically the first thing a new handler learns. Now, on the right is a coloring book page created in Shane's honor.

Click here kids to print this picture so that you can color him in yourself.

Explore and Learn More

   SAR Articles and Learning

   Understand Tracking & Trailing

   SAR Groups & Goldens

     Darla Lost and Found (about lost Golden)
     When her Little Dog Cried & Said Good-Bye

     SAR Dog Fact Sheet
     Search & Rescue Dog Training Overview
     Search Dogs General Info: "77 FACTS"
     K9 First Aid for SAR Dogs
     Urban Disaster Search
     Avalanche Training Overview
     When the Search is Over

     Trailing or Tracking Dogs
  Tracking vs. Trailing
  Training the Trailing Search Dog
     Using Dogs as Ground Search Resources
     Tracking With Siab

     Search & Rescue Books/Media
     Tracking Books/Media

      Kat Albrecht & Pet Hunters
      Golden Willow
      Golden Sadie


Avalanche training on Berthoud Pass, Grand County Colorado.
Grand county search and rescue SAR.


TaleTell: Your own Stories of SAR Goldens (If you have a Golden SAR tale to share, just send it, along with photos, to: