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Northstar Search and Rescue K-9 handlers will update their skills and knowledge on a continuous basis.  Our team requires the following training for each handler:


•CPR & First Aid

•K9 Field Trauma First Aid

•Map and Compass navigation

•Radio communications

•Crime Scene Preservation

•Scent Theory



Northstar members train their dogs to recognize and alert on a human scent that is expelled by our bodies whether we are alive, or dead.  We instruct handlers to practice the following in this order: SEARCH, ALERT, FIND, INDICATE, REFIND.  We have defined each below.


Search- The dog searches off-lead and is either scent specific, or will search for any human scent it can detect. The handler uses directionals to guide the dog through the search area.  Handlers watch their dogs body language for any behavior which indicates that the dog is detecting human scent.


Alert- A change in behavior that can be observed by a handler and can be reported as a clue to search base. 


Find- Canine detects the scent of the subject its seeking and follows that particular scent to subject.  The dog uses the volume of scent it's getting to determine where to find the subject.


Indication- After locating the subject, the dog returns to the handler and communicates that the find has been made. This is done by using trained reliable indication, and without that indication, the handler wouldn't know the find has been made.


Refind- The dog leads the handler back to the subject after the initial indication has been given that the subject has been found.

Northstar Search and Rescue is a volunteer canine search and rescue group. We respond to requests from law enforcement agencies.  We do not self-deploy.  Searches are unpredictable and can come at any time, day or night, holidays, workdays, etc. Our members are extremely dedicated and agencies can be assured that even at inconvenient times, we can respond to help in a search effort.

Training is key for both you and your dog, to being physically and mentally ready when called out for a search mission.  Northstar SAR conducts official training twice each week in a group setting; however, each member is expected to pursue additional training during the week as well. To continue to advance, extra training is needed.

minnesota K9 northstar search and rescue

If you are interested in becoming a member of Northstar Search and Rescue we encourage you to contact us! 

Air Scent Search- A type of search where the canine picks up a scent that is radiating off of a person and floating in the air and follows that scent to the person. Dogs typically work off lead. They may focus on a single person's scent or may look in general for any person who may be in an area. 

Alert- Changes in body language that show the canine has found something of interest. Common alerts are whining, scratching, and increased respiration. 

Article Search- A type of search where the canine searches for items that have human scent on them (keys, gloves, discarded weapons, etc.).

Cadaver Search (or Human Remains Detection/HRD)- A type of search where the canine looks for human remains. Remains may be above ground, below ground or in water.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)- A team that is organized to assist first responders (fire departments, paramedics, etc.) when a disaster occurs. These teams provide immediate help to victims until professional help arrives. Team members are trained in what to expect when a disaster occurs and in doing the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)- A medical responder trained in basic life support and non-invasive medical procedures.

Field Technician- A member of a search team that assists with support functions like radio operation, orienteering, and record keeping.

Grid Search- A systematic search that typically uses a group to check small segments of land or water. A common grid search is called a line search, where a group of people will form a line and walk together across a defined area looking for evidence.

Handler- The person who controls and directs a dog during a search. This person is almost always the sole trainer of the dog.

Hasty Search- A type of search whose purpose is to cover the most obvious places a subject might be in the least time possible. It is usually the first kind of search tactic to be utilized, often following trails subject may also have traveled.

K-9 Team- A search team consisting of one dog and its handler.

Last Known Position (LKP)- The last known location of a missing subject as determined by physical evidence such as a discarded object or a footprint.

Mock Search- Staged training that is set up to approximate as closely as possible a real search effort.

National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR)- A non-profit association dedicated to expanding people's knowledge of search and rescue.

Perimeter Search- A type of search where the canine team will take a route that they believe will intersect the path of the subject. The objective is to cross the subject's path and find tracks or other evidence showing that the subject was there.

Point (or Place) Last Seen (PLS)- The location where the missing subject was actually seen by another person.

The probability of Detection (POD or PD)- The probability that the subject/object will be detected, assuming it was in the area searched.

The probability of Success (POS or PS)- The probability of finding the subject/object with a particular search.

Scent Specific- The canine focuses on only one person's scent during a search. This is done by having the dog smell an item that the subject touched.

Search and Rescue (SAR)- The process of locating a missing person, getting to him, stabalizing him and transporting him to safety.

Scent Article- An item that was handled by the missing person (i.e. a set of keys, a piece of clothing, etc.). This item will carry the scent of the missing person and can be used by a canine team to focus the dog's search on a specific scent.

Shoreline Cadaver- A type of search where the canine walks the shoreline searching for human remains in the water.

Sound Sweep Search- An attraction search in which all searchers call out, whistle or make some other sound at a prescribed time and then are all quiet and listening for an answer.

Tracking/Trailing- A type of search where the canine follows the scent left by a person as he walks through an area. This type of search requires an item that has the missing person's scent on it so the canine knows which scent to follow.

Water Cadaver- A type of search where the canine will search from a boat for human remains in the water.

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