We are really keen to recruit the right people, and we have streamlined our training pathway to make things easier for prospective handlers. Levels are as follows:  Entry – Trainee – Novice – Operational – Post | Advanced Operational – Trainer – Assessor.

To start, we would suggest you apply to attend a training camp. You will attend the first camp without a dog and you will soon learn that dog age, breed and selection is one of the most important things! Prospective SAR dogs and handlers require specific attributes before they ever start training. It costs thousands of dollars in not only time and money but also the resources of SARDA and the time and energy of the trainers and assessors.

So this is why we ask you to attend without a dog to watch and learn whether this is for you or not. If you decide it is for you and the assessor trainers think you have what it takes, we can start you on your entry pathway, and once this part is completed you can be accepted on our training program.

We do not train your dog for you. You and your dog are a team, and handlers must be prepared to put in the time to train their own dog. It generally takes 2-3 years to train a search dog. To be considered, handlers need an obvious affinity with dogs and be able to work well as a member of a team. You must also fulfil a number of other pre requisites which can be viewed on our standards – please contact us for a copy.

Dog age, breed and selection and where you live are some of the most important things!
If you think you have what it takes to train a search dog, please contact us BEFORE you get a dog so that we can assist you.

what we look for in our dogs

– Is it the correct weight, active and healthy?
– Is it obedient and trustworthy off lead in all situations?
– Is it non aggressive to other dogs?
– Does the dog have a high play drive and retrieve?
– Does it bring toys / sticks to you to play? (the training is based on a play reward)
– Is it a working breed? Working breeds tend to have trainable attributes.
– Does it like people and willingly approach strangers with a good attitude? If it doesn’t like strangers or is shy why would it want to find someone lost?
– Does the dog chase other animals, eg cats, possums livestock etc. Search dogs are ONLY allowed to follow human scent.
– Does the dog perve… that is, become distracted by the scent of other dogs and continually cock its leg to mark its territory? (some dominant bitches also do this).

Check out the puppy aptitude test

what we look for in our handlers

Must be a good team fit for Search and Rescue Avalanche Dogs
– good communication
– perseverance
– determination to achieve
– integrity
– honest about own abilities
– professional approach
– respectful of the organisation and process
– always doing the right thing even when no one is watching
– work as part of a team for the best team outcome

Must have affinity with dogs and be able to:
– elicit play with a dog using a toy
– demonstrate a high-energy reward in public
– use vocal pitch and volume to excite dog
– use tactile actions to excite/reward dog
– maintain consistent levels of reward