Cadaver dogs are much like search and rescue dogs, the major exception is the search and rescue dogs search for a live human beings, and the cadaver dog searches for human remains. Much of the training for cadaver dogs is the same for search and rescue dogs. The one notable exception would be the handler learning to read typographical maps and water tables. This skill as necessary for anyone considering cadaver dog training.
Depending on the type of cadaver recovery dog urban or wilderness, water or land, several other skills will need to be mastered. Wilderness will require snake proofing in certain areas, repelling, compass reading, GPS, survival skills, preserving evidence, are just a short list of the skills necessary.
Cadaver recovery dog requires a handler and dog that are physically able to handle the demanding physical stamina to do the work. The ability to walk for miles in all types of terrains, the ability to carry their dog out of a search area should it become injured.
There are obviously extra cost in doing cadaver recovery dog, harnesses, repelling gear, camping gear, hiking gear, doggie goggles, vests, hard hats, doggie boots, to mention a few.
The dog training will need to include Basic Obedience, Intermediate Obedience, scent work and Tracking. You can find the prices for each of these programs on this website.
We offer many of the human courses necessary to fulfill the requirements of a cadaver recovery dog handler, such as canine first aid and CPR, map and compass, lost person behavior, survival skills, preserving evidence, among others.
Dogs trained in cadaver recovery are required to be passive search dogs, meaning there alerts will be of a passive nature, like pointing or a down on the suspected decomposing material. Boating skills and other safety devices will also be needed to do water recovery. Scuba certification would help, but again knowing tide charts, and water flow is also necessary.
Cadaver recovery has a high turnover rate due to the nature of the task. When you work a search and rescue dog there's always a chance you are working towards finding a living victim. That is not the case with cadaver dogs. You're always looking for the deceased, hopefully to give the family's closure and peace of mind. Years ago cadaver recovery teams were police officers. Civilian contractors have come later.
A recent phenomenon has been where information is leaked to the victim's family that searches are in progress in a specified area. Crime scene marking tape set up, and a search commences. The families of the victims show up and take a position on the crime scene tape. When the dog indicates the smell of decomposing material, the crime scene unit is alerted and begin excavation. The screams and the crying can be heard by the team, which can have a severe impact on both the handler and the dog.
Anyone considering a career in cadaver recovery, should be aware of the emotional roller coaster this activity leads to.