Search Team Requirements
SAR dog handlers must enjoy working with dogs and being in the outdoors in all kinds of weather. They must be physically fit and able to respond to emergencies. They must become proficient in land navigation, map and compass, radio communications, wilderness survival, and first aid. (Most units require a minimum of Advanced First Aid with CPR.)
Requirements for the SAR dog include trainability, agility, endurance, and the ability to get along with other dogs and people. A search dog is a valued member of his handler's family, and he regards people as his friends. SAR dogs are usually the larger working and sporting breeds of dogs.
Most handlers prefer to begin training a young puppy. However, an older dog may be suitable if the dog has already developed a good working relationship with his owner. Dogs trained for police service, protection, security, Schutzhund, and the like, can be used in SAR work.
It normally takes a year of training - at least twice a week - before a dog/handler team is mission-ready. All units evaluate a candidate team's search proficiency before fielding them on actual missions.