We are really keen to recruit the right people, and we have recently streamlined our training pathway to make things easier for prospective handlers. Levels are as follows:  Entry – Trainee – Novice – Operational – Post | Advanced Operational – Trainer – Assessor.

To start, we would suggest you apply to attend a training camp in the discipline you are interested in. Be that Avalanche or Wilderness. You will attend the first camp without a dog and you will soon learn that dog age, breed and selection is one of the most important things! Prospective SAR dogs and handlers require specific attributes before they ever start training. It costs thousands of dollars in not only time and money but also the resources of NZLandSAR Dogs and the time and energy of the assessors.

So this is why we ask you to attend without a dog to watch and learn whether this is for you or not. If you decide it is for you and the assessor trainers think you have what it takes, we can start you on your entry pathway, and once this part is completed you can be accepted on our training program.

We do not train your dog for you. You and your dog are a team, and handlers must be prepared to put in the time to train their own dog. It generally takes 2-3 years to train a search dog. To be considered, handlers need an obvious affinity with dogs and be able to work well as a member of a team. You must also fulfil a number of other pre requisites depending on which discipline you are interested in. These can be viewed on our standards (Section 3.0)

Dog age, breed and selection and where you live are some of the most important things!
If you think you have what it takes to train a search dog, please contact us BEFORE you get a dog so that we can assist you.

While there are many similarities between the processes for wilderness and avalanche search dogs, there are some differences too.
These are with regards to the skills and qualifications required for the handler as the process to train a dog is the same.
It is possible to train a search dog in both avalanche and wilderness and we encourage exposure to all disciplines within Land SAR Search Dogs.

For avalanche search dog handlers the pre requisites are the appropriate skills and qualifications within the alpine environment and you will need to have completed the Mountain Safety Council Backcountry Avalanche Course (or equivalent) with supporting documentation and evidence of further application of skills. To be a wilderness search dog handler, you must supply a completed endorsement form which will support you as a member of your local Land SAR group with the appropriate SAR skills for field deployment.

Please read through the flow charts below to get an insight into the process ahead.

Calendar course dates
Email to attend a wilderness camp
Email to attend an avalanche camp