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.