What We Do at K9 SARA
K9 SARA specialises in training search and rescue teams in different environments. The two prominent environments are wilderness and disaster. During the time training takes place, the handlers need to invest in the necessary equipment needed for deployment in order for them to become search ready after qualification.
The training methods used by K9 SARA are in line with the methods used by the American Rescue Dog Association (ARDA). These methods are internationally recognised and used throughout the search dog community to ensure an international standard of training across different units are maintained. Positive reinforcement and using fun activities to teach the dog to perform the search is what forms the base of the training methodology. The result of the training is a search dog that looks for his / her toy, knowing that finding the source of the human scent (lost person) in the area will produce the reward.
K9 SARA has a training programme in place to guide both the handler and the dog from not having any training to becoming a fully qualified search ready team. This programme requires the dog-handler team to qualify in wilderness search and rescue first, followed by a qualification in disaster search and rescue.
The average time it takes a dog-handler team to qualify for wilderness is two years. The disaster qualification then follows at roughly a year later (this is all very handler and dog dependant).
Flankers form an essential part of the K9 search and rescue world. The flanker is the person who accompanies the dog-handler team on their search and assists in any way possible. Due to handlers having to watch and read their K9 companions, the flanker’s duty extends past assisting the handler to ensuring the safety of the handler. Flankers train with the dog-handler teams to give them the necessary experience, skills, and relationships needed in the case of deployment.