First Practice

Search Dog Network trainings are open for anyone to attend. Here’s some information on our team and about attending training. There are three basic positions on our team: Search Dog Handler, Support Technician, and Canine. We welcome all who are interested in training for these tasks.

We also encourage people who do not handle a dog to check out the team. The team has a continual need for supporting SAR personnel and volunteer victims both on land and in the water (certified scuba divers). Our goal is to deploy every Canine Team with 4 volunteers: 1) Canine Handler, 2) Medical Support, 3) Communications/Navigations Support and 4) Certified SAR Canine. There are different courses available which will help prepare personnel for these skills. In addition we need and train personnel for base/search management functions, as well as for public information and fund raising tasks. Please see the Articles page for helpful information.

Our training schedule can be found at If you are attending a practice for the first time, please email Jim Yeager or Mary Haislet, New Member Coordinator to verify practice time, location, and activities as these occasionally change before we can update our calendar on the website. Directions to our training sites can also be found on the calendar.

While attending training, you will walk along with handlers training dogs, and will probably be asked to be a “victim” (a.k.a. “Rover”) for the dogs. Search and Rescue (SAR) training can be a strenuous physical activity. Please come prepared for extensive walking/running through brush and fields.


  • Appropriate clothes for weather and for moving through the woods (long pants)
  • Sturdy shoes or boots (no sandals)
  • Water (in container to be carried)


  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat

When you first visit our team training we ask that you attend without your canine partner. Requirements for bringing your dog to training will be explained at training. Later, when you have completed certain tasks, your canine partner may attend with you. At which time you should also bring:

  • Collar & Leash
  • Water for dog (in container to be carried)
  • Dog’s favorite toy and/or treats
  • A crate is recommended for your dog’s safety

Most dogs enjoy SAR training. It is a game of hide and seek for them. It is beneficial to start SAR training while your dog is still a puppy, but many dogs have been successfully started at a later age. If you have an older dog, it is best if they already know basic obedience (off leash). Agility and related events also provide excellent skills. Your dog should be non-aggressive to people and other dogs.

If you wish to become a Search Dog Handler, it is helpful if you have prior dog training experience. You will progress much faster if you already understand how to read and motivate your dog. We emphasize positive training techniques for the dogs. In making this training fun for the dogs they will eagerly continue searching until they find the victim. We find that when it ceases to become fun for the dogs, their working ability decreases rapidly. So do whatever you need to do to make the training fun, we will give you some ideas!

There are no fees for becoming a Search Dog Network volunteer, however, we expect our volunteers to attend training and show improvement toward meeting team goals. Search and Rescue is a serious business which requires fitness skills for both the Handler and the Canine. Training is a group effort, and we will help you, but please remember, we need committed volunteers. Those who come to training but don’t have the commitment required waste valuable training time that others in the group need.

Our team is a committed, hard-working group of volunteers. We train twice weekly and improve our skills through classroom and field work, seminars, and national testing, so that we are prepared to help people in need. At the same time, we strive to make training enjoyable for everyone involved, human and canine.

Thank you for your interest in Search Dog Network. You’re welcome to come meet us at training!