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Search Evaluation Study Guide

For the 20/20 the handler should be able to answer the following questions or demonstrate the following skills:

I. Search Strategy

  1. Explain at least three (3) ways to search an area.

  2. Does the handler understand why they chose those 3 ways?

  3. Once a strategy has been chosen and put into action, and the handler sees a better way of covering an area, can they explain why they want to use a different strategy.

  4. When changing a search strategy, can the handler explain what areas might not be covered by the new strategy.

  5. Does the handler use natural boundaries to their advantage? For example, streams, ridges and trails that run through their sector.

II. Navigation

  1. Can the handler explain at least 2 ways to check a landmark? For example, your East boundary is a stream that runs North/South. When you are working your sector, there are several streams. How can you tell which one is the correct one?

  2. Can the handler use a compass bearing to go from point A to point B?

  3. Can the handler locate where they have been as they search the sector?

  4. Did the handler mark on their map any clues, alerts or where the victim was located?

III. Clues

  1. What is a clue?

  2. How do you mark a clue in the field?

  3. When marking a clue on your map, what do you include?

  4. How would you mark a visual clue or a dog alert, in the field?

  5. What would you do if you found a body in the field?

IV. Radio

  1. Did the handler do a radio check before they got too far from Base?

  2. Can the handler change the batteries on the radio they are using?

  3. Does the handler ask which channel Base is working on?

  4. If Base does not have the radio frequency that the DOGS-East radios have, what can the handler do?

  5. Does DOGS-East have call letters?

  6. Can the handler communicate to Base where they have found a clue, alert or victim?

  7. What are the 3 status numbers and what do they mean?

  8. What is the distress code in Virginia ?

V. Subject Characteristics

  1. Did the handler ask for a physical description of the subject?

  2. Did the handler ask about the type, color, and size of the clothes being worn?

  3. What was the mental state of the victim?

  4. Did the subject take any medication? How might that effect where the handler might look?

  5. Was the subject armed when they disappeared?


  1. What is a POD?

  2. How do you determine a POD?

  3. Why is the POD important?

  4. What is a PLS?

  5. How does the PLS change?

VII. Dog Skills

  1. Does the dog actively search for human scent?

  2. Is the dog focused?

  3. Does the dog get distracted by the handler, animals, or the surroundings in general?

  4. Is the dog at ease in the woods?

  5. Does the dog give a recognizable alert?

  6. After the dog alerts, does it follow up and go into the victim?

  7. After the dog goes into the victim, does it come straight back to the handler?

  8. Does the dog do a refind?

  9. When called in the field, will the dog return to the handler on the first call?

  10. Will the dog leave a distraction when asked to LEAVE IT by the handler? Example: Can the handler call their dog off an animal track? Can the handler control the dog off lead in the field?

IX. Team Work

  1. Do the handler and the dog get along?

  2. Can the dog work even if the handler is not at ease or not feeling well?

  3. Does the handler recognize when the dog needs to rest?

  4. Can the handler tell if the dog is not working?

  5. Depending on how the dog works, can the handler tell how much area was covered?

  6. How does the ranging ability effect how the handler does their sector?

  7. Does the handler know when to say the team has had enough?

For the 160 acre and 40 acre night problems the handler must be able to answer these additional questions and have mastered these additional skills.

X. 160 acre day and 40 acre night problems

  1. In addition to assessing the scenario, the handler must be familiar with the search management and dispatch procedures.

    1. What do you do if you are the first team on the scene?

    2. How do you decide how many more dog teams or other resources need to be called?

  2. What is the POA and how is it determined?

  3. Does dog go back to work after making a find?

  4. Does the dog avoid distractions?

  5. Does the dog try and follow up mild and moderate alerts? Does the handler see these mild alerts?

  6. The handler should be able to call or halt his dog in the field.

  7. Does the handler know when he or his dog needs a break?

  8. Can the handler differentiate between alerts on animal versus human scent?

  9. Does the handler mark the map with travel, wind, alerts, clues finds?

  10. Can the handler report back to base the coordinates where he is currently located?

  11. Does the handler respond to changing conditions or clues in the field?

  12. Does the handler get extra information from base when appropriate?

  13. When the handler debriefs, can he report accurately the area searched, the POD and the recommendations for additional search resources in the area?

  14. Does the handler understand the differences in scent movement at night?

  15. Can the handler navigate at night?

XI. Critical Items on the 160 acre day and 40 acre night evaluations (if these are rated as poor the team automatically fails)

  1. Did the handler maintain control of the dog?

  2. Did the dog return directly to the handler after finding the subject or stay with the victim and bark?

  3. Did the dog take its handler directly back to the subject?

  4. Did the dog team cover the area effectively?

  5. Do the dog and handler make an effective team?

  6. Did the handler recognize his dog's alerts?

  7. Did the handler maintain his orientation at night?

  8. Did the handler mark the map accurately?