Arizona Search Dogs

Arizona Search Dogs is a nonprofit (501c3) organization


Arizona Search Dogs

  1. What breeds do you use?

    Arizona Search Dogs uses Labrador Retrievers. About 60% of the FEMA search dogs are Labs. Other popular breeds are German Shepherds, Border Collies, and Golden Retrievers.

  2. Where do you get the dogs?

    Some of our Labs are from rescue organizations, but most of them were purchased as puppies or young adults from field trial breeders or trainers.

  3. Who trains your dogs?

    Arizona Search Dogs trains our own dogs. It takes thousands of hours to get a dog ready to test for certification. It takes countless more hours to keep the dogs well trained and prepared to save lives.

  4. How long does it take to train a dog?

    A young puppy takes about 2 years to train. A young adult can be trained in a few months to a year depending on it’s level of previous training.

  5. Do all the dogs you take for training make it through certification?

    No, some dogs are washed out of the program, if it is determined that they don’t have the personality or drive to do the work needed. Those dogs are adopted out to carefully chosen families.

  6. How many years can a search dog work?

    The usual age for retirement is about 10 years old for Labs. We let them work as long as their health allows.

  7. What happens to the dogs when they retire?

    When it is time to retire our working dogs, the main handler is given the first option to adopt. In 99.9% of the cases, the handler chooses to keep the dog.

  8. Do the dogs also look for dead people?

    No, our dogs are “live find” only.

  9. What is the dogs reward for finding a victim?

    They are rewarded with a play session with their favorite toy.

  10. Do the dogs get hurt very often?

    No. They rarely receive serious injuries while they are working. Common minor injuries include broken nails and abraded pads.

  11. Do the dogs wear boots to protect their feet?

    Rarely. They have much better footing, and are therefore safer, if they can feel the surface with their pads & toes.

  12. How do the dogs know who to look for?

    Humans have a uniquely human scent, and individual humans have a scent unique to them alone. The dogs learn to identify by scent, and ignore, humans in the search area that are upright. They will only alert on a live, human scent coming from a prone victim, or a buried victim. Pretty amazing!

  13. How do the dogs "Alert"

    Once the dog has detected live human scent from either a prone or buried victim, the dog will stay at the scent source and bark until the handler arrives.

  14. How do the dogs travel with you?

    If we fly on a commercial airline, our dogs travel in-cabin with us, laying at our feet, and usually the feet of those sitting next to us! On Deployments the dogs may fly on Military planes, helicopters, or even boats.

  15. Do the dogs live with you?

    Yes. Our dogs are team owned, but live with their assigned handler. Many also get to go to work with their handlers.

  16. Can I come out and see the dogs train?

    Yes, Please send us a email on the contact us page and we will be glad to invite you out to a training session.

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