The NDATF uses all types of working breeds of dogs, such as Border Collies, German Shepherds, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers. We like to begin training a dog as young as 12 weeks of age, but older dogs are also considered. Wilderness search dogs must be trained and certified in one of three methods: tracking, trailing ,air scent or cadaver.
Dogs first taught to track or trail may later be trained in air scent. However, dogs first taught to air scent can rarely be taught to track or trail because air scenting is the easiest and most natural for the dog. Often air scent dogs naturally combine all three methods to locate a subject.
Dogs instinctively use their noses to locate things in everyday life, so the real training is to teach them to locate the lost person or article and to notify the handler that the subject or article has been found. This notification is called the alert.
Dogs can locate people because all humans have an individual human scent left behind by the 40,000 skin cells dropped per minute. Air currents carry these cells that dogs can detect with their sensitive nose.
Bear / Wildlife K9's
Currently, the most active work being done using dogs to deter bears and other wildlife is by Karelian Bear Dogs (KBD) and German Shepherds (GSD). KBD’s and GSD's have been used for decades to track and bay game, particularly grizzlies, but they can also be used for other wildlife.
The KBD’s and GSD's shepherd bears and other wildlife by barking and chasing them from areas where they would come into conflict with people.
The shepherding is combined with other aversive conditioning tools such as yelling, throwing stones, bear spray, and rubber bullets.
Drug Detection K9's
Our drug detection dogs are trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.
We start by selecting dogs with a high search drive and strong passive alert. Based on their natural characteristics and proven success as drug detection dogs, these are the breeds we prefer to use for drug detection: Labrador Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. We only choose dogs from proven working dog bloodlines.
We make drug dog training as authentic as possible—we only use real drugs, not pseudo drug scents. We painstakingly recreate the scenarios and situations drug detection dogs are likely to encounter when they are deployed into the work field.
And our K9 teams practice in a multitude of realistic environments like buildings, vehicles, luggage, lockers, cargo storage spaces, etc.
Explosive Detection K9's
We start by selecting dogs with a high search drive and strong passive alert. Based on their natural characteristics and proven success as detection dogs, NDATF K9 Teams prefer to use Labrador Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois for all our explosive detection dogs’ contracts.
We try only to choose dogs from proven working dog bloodlines.
We prepare our explosive detection dogs by using actual explosives materials in training, and not simulated scents.
Our explosive detection training is thorough; we recreate the scenarios and situations bomb detection dogs will likely encounter when they are deployed in the work field.