Get involved

Everyone who is involved in Search Dogs Buckinghamshire is a volunteer and we are grateful for support from the public to provide the services that we offer. You would be surprised at the different ways you could support us!  For example, you could come to some of our training sessions and hide for our dogs to find you! For information about this or about joining and helping in any other way, please Contact us.

Join us

Working with your dog is great fun, rewarding and takes time and commitment.  If you would like to join and have a dog that you think might be suitable, please get in touch.

Things you should bear in mind if you are considering joining us in any capacity:

  • You must be 18 or over and have your own transport available at all times.
  • You don’t have to be a dog owner but be prepared to be around dogs most of the time.
  • You are required to have a reasonable level of general fitness and be comfortable in all rural terrains, at any time of the day or night, in all weather conditions.
  • You should be able to walk 5 miles in under two hours.
  • You will be required to pass a basic Police security check.
  • Members need to be almost 100% self-funding. Apart from core equipment and uniform, members need to fund their own outdoor clothing, walking boots, all travel costs etc.
  • You must go through a full training programme and qualify (to national standards) as a search technician before you are able to take part in live operations.

Time commitment – weekly training, including some weekends at locations across the county of Buckinghamshire, and sometimes just across the borders.

Team members are also expected to support some of the various fund-raising and promotional events held throughout the year and also help with some of the administration and ad hoc tasks.

First aid training at night
Training to find a missing person

Training with us

In order to be operational, team members must be trained in Search Techniques, Navigation & Radio Communication, Missing Person Behaviour and Human & Canine First Aid. Training takes place in the day and at night, and in all weathers, to ensure it is similar to real searches.  All of this provides the skills and confidence required to attend a callout as a member of a search team.

The majority of our dogs are trained as air scenting dogs, as we are most often called to rural and unpopulated areas (where dogs are much faster than humans at searching). Dogs are trained to detect any human scent and the training is built up in stages until the dogs are ready to carry out successful searches.

The key stages are:

  • Stage One: Find – positive reward methods are used to encourage the dog to find someone hiding (e.g. in the woods)
  • Stage Two: Alert – the dog needs to be trained to return to their handler after they find and give a clear readable ‘alert’ (this can be by jumping up or barking)
  • Stage Three: Re-find – at this stage, the dog must find, return, alert and then take the handler back to where they located the ‘missing’ person, all without prompting.
  • Stage Four: Performing a full and successful search (Find, Alert & Re-find) for 2 ‘missing’ people, over a 1km distance.
  • Stage Five: Performing a full and successful search (Find, Alert & Re-find) for 3 ‘missing’ people, over an increased 2km distance.

Training for all parts of the team requires hard work and commitment. Dogs are accepted onto the training programme following initial behavioural assessments.  The dog and their handler will need to pass a nationally accredited assessment to take part in searches. Typically, training takes place weekly, all year round and it will take six months before the dog handler/support achieves qualification standards and around two years before a dog team is ready to be nationally assessed.

Being involved in Search and Rescue can be demanding, but it can also be very rewarding knowing that you are part of a team that helps lost or vulnerable people and their loved ones.