Tuesday 17 December 2019

Dorset's Search Dogs - on call 24/7

Here in Dorset where Hubble & Hattie HQ is based, there is a small team of highly trained search and rescue dogs. Together with their owners, they support the police, coastguard and other Search & Rescue organisations, to assist with searches for missing persons.

These dogs live at home with their owners just like any other canine companion. However, sometimes they’re called upon to do something extraordinary. The dogs are family members first, search dogs second. However, their thorough and lengthy training makes them special, because in an emergency - for example a report of a missing person - they assist the Search and Rescue (SAR) team.

To be a good SAR dog, they need to have a very high play drive, as to them it is a game with a reward for success. Training is a very big commitment for both owner and dog; the it can take between 3 to 4 years and is a complex process. It includes twice-weekly sessions, being on call 365 days a year, and requalifying every two years.

Currently there are two fully-trained dogs on the Dorset team, and another nine are working towards being operational.

Some dogs train to be tracking dogs (like police dog trackers who are given a scent item and follow the route a missing person takes), however the two operational dogs in the Dorset team are ‘air scenters’, meaning that they follow air borne human scent.

                                         Photo ©

The work is very rewarding for both the humans and the dogs. The dogs need to have good stamina as a search can last for several hours, and also non-reactive to other dogs and humans. So whilst no breed will be discounted as a potential SAR dog, the work suits some more that others. Some breeds such as Labs, Collies, and Springer Spaniels are particularly popular as SAR dogs.

You can find out more about the amazing work of the Dorset Search Dogs at