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K-9 Search and Rescue Courses

Search and Rescue / K-9 Training
Course Descriptions
Effective August 2020

Many of our courses are designed to be taken in sequence, so each level builds on the next. Please give attention to any course prerequisites listed. Any variance from the listed prerequisites must be approved by the IDHS Training section chief.

To register for courses, you must first have a PSID number (K-9s must also have a PSID number). Register for a PSID using the online application. Then, using your PSID and password, log in to the Acadis Portal and browse for IDHS courses. Some prerequisites are offered through FEMA's training website.

Course Legend

Course Prefixes
  • K9xxx indicates courses designed for canine handlers and their canines or those interested in how canines are trained and work.
    • Note: A dog is not required for a course. Observers welcome.
  • SARxxx indicates ground search and search management courses.
Course Numbers
  • 100 courses are workshops and foundation training.
  • 200 courses are Basic level courses.
  • 300 courses are Intermediate level courses.
  • 400 courses are Advanced level courses.
  • 500 courses are Specialty courses.
  • 600 courses are Credentialing courses.

Dog sniffs in creek

K9100 K-9 Learning Theory

Maximum class size: 30 students and 15 K-9s
Course length: 5 hours

This one-day class is for beginner to advanced handlers wanting to better understand how to train their canine partners. The course begins with an interactive lecture (translation: plan to participate!) on canine learning theory. Discover “how” your dog learns! Topics include stages of learning, reinforcement schedules, methods of learning and chaining behaviors. Some class time will be spent in the field putting the learning theories into practice.

K9101 K-9 Skills Day

Maximum class size: 20 students and 15 K-9s
Course length: 8 hours

This one-day workshop is for beginner to advanced handlers wanting to focus on problem areas they are experiencing with their dog. Trainers will be available to assist with your training needs. The primary focus will be on foundation and alerting skills.

K9105 K-9 First Aid

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 8 hours

This one-day courses focuses on teaching the student basic K-9 first aid principals. K-9 assessment, what is normal. Bandaging, splinting and other skills needed to render assistance to a K-9 in an emergency. This course is recommended for anyone involved with working with or around K-9s.

K9200 Basic Air Scenting Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 8 hours

This one-day class is designed to introduce K-9 teams with techniques used to locate live missing/lost persons. The class is open to those wishing to train their canine to air-scent for live subjects. A combination of classroom lecture and field exercises will provide the student with information and techniques for scent theory, developing a solid alert and drive building, training progression and much more. This is a prerequisite for all intermediate and advanced air scent courses.

PREREQUISITES
  • OBEDIENCE & AGILITY (or equivalent)
  • ICS 100 (Introduction to Incident Command)
  • IS 700 (Introduction to NIMS)

ICS and IS available online at https://training.fema.gov/apply/.

K9300 Intermediate Air Scenting Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day course expands on what was learned in the basic level. The handler is taught how to develop a training plan and how to set up problems based on their training objectives. This course is highly recommended for those that assist with training as well as K-9 handlers.

PREREQUISITES
  • K9200 BASIC AIR SCENTING TECHNIQUES FOR K-9 TEAMS

K9400 Advanced Air Scenting Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day class is designed to help experienced K-9 teams with tactics used during the search for missing/lost persons in the wilderness environment. The class is open to air-scent teams. There will also be exercises in land navigation and clue finding. Training is hands-on: scenarios and training exercises are set up based on the dog and handler’s experience level.

PREREQUISITES
  • K9300 INTERMEDIATE AIR SCENTING TECHNIQUES FOR K-9 TEAMS
  • ICS 200 (Basic Incident Command)

ICS available online at https://training.fema.gov/apply/.

Dog walking on rubble

K9210 Basic Land Cadaver/HRD Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 8 hours

This is a one-day class designed to introduce K-9 teams to techniques used to locate human remains. Students will learn how to handle and store training aids, basic scent theory and proper handling of training material. Field training will consist of imprinting the dog on the cadaver scent and developing a solid alert. This class is applicable to both search dog teams and law enforcement teams. This is a prerequisite for all intermediate and advanced cadaver courses.

PREREQUISITES
  • CPR & FIRST AID
  • OBEDIENCE & AGILITY (or equivalent)
  • ICS 100 (Introduction to Incident Command)
  • IS 700 (Introduction to NIMS)

ICS and IS available online at https://training.fema.gov/apply/.

K9310 Intermediate Land Cadaver Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 8 hours

This two-day course expands on what was learned in the basic level. The handler is taught how to develop a training plan and how to set up problems based on their training objectives.

PREREQUISITES
  • K9210 BASIC LAND CADAVER/HRD SEARCH TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s

K9410 Advanced Land Cadaver/HRD Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day class will help experienced K-9 teams in techniques used to locate human remains. Land cadaver training will cover vehicles, surface, buried and elevated problems. Training will be hands-on with minimal classroom time. Scenarios and training exercises are set up based on the dog and handler’s experience level. K-9s attending should have a solid trained indication.

PREREQUISITES
  • K9310 INTERMEDIATE LAND CADAVER SEARCH TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s
  • ICS 200 (Basic Incident Command)

ICS available online at https://training.fema.gov/apply/.

K9220 Basic Tracking/Trailing Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 8 hours

This one-day class is for those teams wishing to start their dog in trailing and scent discrimination techniques. Field training will consist of how to get started, leash handling and scent theory. This class is applicable to both search dog teams and law enforcement teams. Training will be hands-on with minimal classroom time. Scenarios and training exercises are set up based on the dog and handler’s experience level.

PREREQUISITES
  • OBEDIENCE & AGILITY (or equivalent)
  • ICS 100 (Introduction to Incident Command)
  • IS 700 (Introduction to NIMS)

ICS and IS available online at https://training.fema.gov/apply/.

K9320 Intermediate Tracking/Trailing Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 15 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day class expands on what is learned at the basic level. The handler is taught how to develop a training plan and how to set up problems based on training objectives. Students practice scent discrimination and quarter-mile and half-mile trails.

PREREQUISITES
  • K9210 BASIC TRACKING/TRAILING TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s

K9420 Advanced Tracking/Trailing Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day class is for those teams with experience in trailing and scent discrimination techniques. Field training will consist of urban, rural and wilderness trails (with single and multiple victims), "line-ups," car trails, negative trails, night-time exercises and more. This class is applicable to both search dog teams and law enforcement teams. Training will be hands-on with minimal classroom time. Scenarios and training exercises are set up based on the dog and handler’s experience level.

PREREQUISITES
  • K9320 INTERMEDIATE TRACKING/TRAILING SEARCH TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s
  • ICS 200 (Basic Incident Command)

People on boat with dog

K9500 Water Cadaver/HRD Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day class is open to those teams that are land cadaver trained. This course will help those new to water search as well as those experienced in water cadaver search. Training will include scent theory, search strategy, boat safety and hands-on training on the water. Scenarios and training exercises are set up based on the dog and handler’s experience level. Water cadaver problems will cover both shoreline and open water searches.

  • Note: Your dog must have a solid alert on land in order to participate in water exercises.
PREREQUISITES
  • K9210 BASIC LAND CADAVER/HRD SEARCH TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s
  • BASIC WATER SAFETY (strongly recommended)

K9555 Basic Building Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 8 hours

This one-day class is designed to help new as well as experienced K-9 teams with tactics used during the search for missing/lost persons or human remains in buildings. Training is hands-on, and scenarios and training exercises are set up based on the dog and handler’s experience level. K-9s attending should have a solid trained indication.

PREREQUISITES
  • K9210 BASIC TRACKING/TRAILING TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s or K9200 BASIC AIR SCENTING TECHNIQUES FOR K-9 TEAMS

K9552 Advanced Building Search Techniques for  K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day class expands on what was learned in the Basic course. Emphases will be placed on search tactics, night searching and problem solving. Training is hands-on, and scenarios and training exercises are set up based on the dog and handler’s experience level.

PREREQUISITES
  • CPR & FIRST AID
  • OBEDIENCE & AGILITY (or equivalent)
  • K9210 BASIC LAND CADAVER or K9200 BASIC AIR SCENTING TECHNIQUES FOR K-9 TEAMS
  • K9550 BASIC BUILDING SEARCH TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s
  • ICS 100 (Introduction to Incident Command)
  • IS 700 (Introduction to NIMS)
  • ICS 200 (Basic Incident Command)

K9530 Basic Disaster Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day class is designed to introduce K-9 search teams to the specialized field of disaster response. Students will train in the areas of agility, obedience, alert work and drive building. Students will also have the opportunity to practice their skills on three rubble piles. Training will include live and cadaver/HRD exercises. K-9s attending should have a solid trained indication.

  • Note: PPE for rubble search: Handler must wear a helmet, gloves, long pants, long sleeves and safety-toe/steel-shank boots. Knee pads recommended. The Search and Rescue Training Program has a limited number of helmets and knee pads available.
PREREQUISITES
  • K9210 BASIC TRACKING/TRAILING TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s or K9200 BASIC AIR SCENTING TECHNIQUES FOR K-9 TEAMS
  • PPE for rubble search

K9330 Intermediate Disaster Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 15 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day class expands on what is learned at the basic level. Students will train in the areas of agility, obedience, alert work and directional training. Students will also have the opportunity to practice their skills on rubble piles. Training will include live and cadaver/HRD exercises. K-9s attending should have a solid trained indication.

  • Note: PPE for rubble search: Handler must wear a helmet, gloves, long pants, long sleeves and safety-toe/steel-shank boots. Knee pads recommended. The Search and Rescue Training Program has a limited number of helmets and knee pads available.
PREREQUISITES
  • K9530 BASIC DISASTER SEARCH TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s
  • PPE for rubble search

K9430 Advanced Disaster Search Techniques for K-9s

Maximum class size: 20 students, 10 K-9s
Course length: 16 hours

This two-day class will help experienced K-9 teams in techniques used to locate live subjects or human remains. Disaster training will cover vehicles, surface, buried and elevated problems. Training will be hands-on with minimal classroom time. Scenarios and training exercises are set up based on the dog and handler’s experience level. K-9s attending should have a solid trained indication.

  • Note: PPE for rubble search: Handler must wear a helmet, gloves, long pants, long sleeves and safety-toe/steel-shank boots. Knee pads recommended. The Search and Rescue Training Program has a limited number of helmets and knee pads available.
PREREQUISITES
  • K9330 INTERMEDIATE DISASTER SEARCH TECHNIQUES FOR K-9s
  • HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AWARENESS or IS 005 (Introduction to Hazardous Materials)
  • PPE for rubble search

IS available online at https://training.fema.gov/apply/.

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K-9 Credentialing

Dog looking at human on boat

K9600 K-9 Pretest

Maximum class size: 12 students, 12 K-9s
Course length: 8 hours

This is a test to determine that a K-9 team is prepared to meet all requirements for the K-9 Credentialing test. The K-9 and handler will be tested on obedience, agility, socialization and scent verification. There will be a 50-question written exam the handler must pass before being allowed to test with the K-9. Field testing is based on the discipline the K-9 team is working toward credentials in.

  • Note: Students must bring proof of prerequisites to the testing site.
PREREQUISITES
  • CPR & FIRST AID
  • HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AWARENESS
  • ICS 100 (Introduction to Incident Command)
  • IS 700 (Introduction to NIMS)
  • K-9 FIRST AID
  • SAR300 GROUND SEARCH OPERATION TECHNIQUES II or NASAR SARTECH II (or equivalent, approved by IDHS SAR manager)
  • AWR-110 WMD/TERRORISM AWARENESS

ICS and IS available online at https://training.fema.gov/apply/.

K9650 K-9 Credentialing Test

Maximum class size: 8 students, 8 K-9s
Course length: 8 hours

This is a test to credential K-9 teams in one or more of the following disciplines based on each team's needs and skill sets: article/evidence search, cadaver search (land), cadaver search (water), tracking live, air scent live, disaster live and disaster cadaver. This test will evaluate the ability of a K-9 team to successfully demonstrate the required skills and performance level needed to certify as a consistent and reliable resource during search operations. Please review testing standards; they will be made available to all individuals before testing either electronically on the internet or in printed form.

PREREQUISITES
  • K9600 K-9 PRETEST (in discipline that team will test on)
    • Pretests required for each Credentialing discipline:
      • Cadaver
        • Cadaver Search (land)
        • Cadaver Search (water)
        • Disaster Cadaver
      • Live
        • Air Scent Live
        • Disaster Live
      • Article
        • Article/Evidence Search
      • Tracking
        • Tracking Live