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HRD and Trailing in a Desert Environment

Arid environments can pose special challenges to SAR K9 teams.  This seminar will focus on foundational techniques applicable to both tracking/trailing and HRD K9 teams to improve their overall performance.  

Scenario-based training will be included for both disciplines at the discretion of the instructor.

HRD Track (all levels of experience):

  • K9s will be introduced to large source and novel HR odors. Major areas of instruction will include developing the reward system, focus and commitment to odor. 
  • Discussions of trained final responses and methods for sharpening the final response will be reviewed.
  • Final response training will be conducted with appropriate dogs.

Tracking/Trailing Track (all levels of experience):

  •  Introduction to skills needed for tracking/trailing SAR K9
    •  Teach the game (Find Track)
    •  Improve socialization of dog (Making the track layer valuable)
    •  Build Bond with handler (Appropriate reward)
    •  Teach and reinforce ALERT behavior
  •  Beginning Man-Trailing skills
    • Develop scent discrimination – (use of games – crossover, circle, line up)
    •  Teach “ground track” and scent ID (read what the dog is telling you!)
    •  Incorporate learned ALERT behavior to trailing exercise
    •  Learn to lay track and read flags
    •  Learn logging and basic mapping skills
    •  Teach the dog to “LOCATE” trail – Practice strong starts!
    •  Teach TURNS!!!!!!
  •  Intermediate/Advanced Man-Trailing skills
    •  Develop dog’s problem solving skills
    •  Teach handler to read dog
    •  Build dog’s motivation for the “find”
    •  Increase length of tracks
    •  Increase age of tracks
    •  Vary terrain of tracks
    •  Introduce “water”
    •  Introduce buildings and “door alert”


  • Bill Dotson – Bill has over 40 years of experience in Search and Rescue. He has trained dogs in trailing, area, disaster and HRD.  He is an experienced veteran of countless missions, both nationally and internationally from disasters to homicides to lost soldiers in the jungles of Panama.
  • Heather Suedkamp – Heather is a dog trainer, instructor, evaluator, firefighter and photographer.  She holds, or has held, multiple national certifications in land cadaver recovery, water cadaver recovery, disaster, area search and trailing.  She trains detection and trailing dogs as well as obedience, socialization, conditioning and is an evaluator for AKC Canine Good Citizen programs.  She is a SAR K-9 instructor and evaluator for Indiana Department of Homeland Security SAR Training Center where she evaluates and teaches K-9s and their handlers in trailing, area search, cadaver recovery and disaster.  Heather is also a lead instructor and evaluator for the National Network of Canine Detection Services.
  • Julie Cramer – Julie is the founder and Training Director for Great Lakes Search and Rescue in Wisconsin.  She has been a search dog handler since 1989 and has certified dogs with LETS, NSDA, and NAPWDA.  Julie is also an Evaluator/Instructor with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and has over 180 hours as an instructor for national seminars.  

When:   January 14-17, 2018
(Event Hours:  0900-1700 Friday, Saturday;  0900-1300 Sunday) 
Where:  Fetch Foundation training center2750 E Tanya Rd, Cave Creek, AZ  85331
Cost:   $275 per handler with dog; $150 per handler without dog.
Lunch will be included Friday and Saturday on site.

Due to the nature of this class, handlers must elect for EITHER the HRD track OR the Tracking/Trailing track.  It will not be possible to have two dogs in different venues.