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Search & Rescue


Swiss Dog Sports Federation

Search & Rescue (USAR) is a crucial activity involving dog units trained to locate and rescue people in various emergency situations. Search and rescue dogs are trained to perform specific tasks in various areas, including surface search, rubble search, mantrailing and searching for dead bodies in water. Each sector requires particular skills and techniques, which are developed through rigorous and continuous training.

Surface research


Surface search is one of the most common forms of dog search and rescue. In this field, dogs are trained to locate missing persons in wooded areas, parks, mountains or other open areas.

Using their exceptional nose, the dogs can cover large areas quickly and detect traces of missing persons.


This technique is particularly effective in emergency situations where time is critical, such as searching for missing children or missing hikers.

Rubble Search

Rubble search is a highly specialised operation involving dogs trained to work in urban environments devastated by natural disasters such as earthquakes, explosions or building collapses.


These dogs are able to move nimbly through debris and rubble, spotting people trapped under the remains of collapsed structures.


Their ability to detect human scent, even in very difficult conditions, is crucial to increasing the chances of rescue in these extreme situations.



Mantrailing is a search technique that utilises a dog's ability to follow a specific trail left by a person.

Unlike surface searching, mantrailing focuses on following a unique scent trail, allowing the dog to distinguish and follow a single person among many.


This method is particularly useful for finding missing persons in urban or rural settings where the trail may cross areas frequented by many other people.

Searching for Dead Bodies in Water


The search for dead bodies in water is one of the most specialised and demanding techniques for search and rescue dogs.


Dogs trained in this field are able to detect the scent of human remains underwater, often in difficult conditions such as lakes, rivers or seas.


Using their olfactory sensitivity, these dogs can detect specific spots where human remains are present, facilitating recovery operations by divers and rescue teams.


The Utility of Search and Rescue Dog Training for Society

Training dogs in search and rescue (USAR) disciplines has a significant and positive impact on society.


Specialised training of dogs in the various search techniques, such as area search, rubble search, mantrailing and searching for corpses in water, offers numerous benefits that go beyond just the ability to find people.


Let's look at how each discipline can benefit society.

Field research

  1. Speed in rescue operations: Surface search dogs can quickly cover large areas, reducing the time needed to find missing persons, which could be vital in emergency situations.

  2. Reduction in human resources required: By using trained dogs, the number of volunteers and human rescuers needed to search large areas is reduced, optimising the effectiveness of search operations.

  3. Support for families: The rapid recovery of missing persons brings relief and emotional support to the families involved, improving the quality of life in the community.


Searching in Rubble

  1. Increased chances of rescue: In disaster situations such as earthquakes or building collapses, dogs can locate people trapped under rubble, increasing the chances of rescue.

  2. Operational efficiency: The dogs are able to work in dangerous and difficult conditions, reducing the risks for human rescuers and improving the efficiency of rescue operations.

  3. Faster recovery: The ability of dogs to detect trapped people contributes to faster recovery and response to disasters, improving emergency management at community level.



  1. Search accuracy: mantrailing allows a specific scent trail to be followed, improving accuracy in locating missing persons, especially in crowded urban areas.

  2. Focused resources: The dogs' ability to follow a single track reduces the use of resources and increases the effectiveness of search operations.

  3. Support for law enforcement: Mantrailing dogs can be an important tool for law enforcement in solving missing person cases and catching criminals.


Searching for Dead Bodies in Water

  1. Recovery of human remains: Dogs trained to search for corpses in water can detect human remains in difficult environments, aiding in recovery operations and bringing relief to the families of victims.

  2. Effectiveness in difficult conditions: These dogs can operate in conditions that would be impossible for humans, improving the effectiveness of search operations.

  3. Contribution to investigations: The ability to detect human remains underwater can provide crucial evidence in legal investigations and help solve missing persons cases.

Benefits for the Dog
from Search Training

Training a dog in search and rescue disciplines not only benefits society, but also offers numerous benefits for the dog itself in its daily life. Here is how specialised training positively influences the dog's physical, mental and emotional health.

Physical Health

  1. Regular exercise: Training involves intense physical activities such as running, jumping and climbing, which help keep the dog in excellent physical shape.

  2. General Physical Condition: Training sessions improve the dog's endurance, muscle strength and flexibility, contributing to a longer and healthier life.

  3. Controlled weight: Constant physical activity helps keep the dog's weight under control, reducing the risk of obesity and related diseases.


Mental stimulation

  1. Problem Solving: The challenges presented during training stimulate the dog's brain, improving its problem solving skills and increasing mental agility.

  2. Continuous Learning: The continuous learning process helps to keep the dog mentally active, preventing boredom and destructive behaviour.

  3. Concentration and Focus: Training helps improve the dog's ability to concentrate, making it more alert and responsive to commands.


Emotional Benefits

  1. Bonding with the handler: Intensive training strengthens the bond between the dog and its handler, creating a relationship of trust and cooperation.

  2. Confidence and Trust: Trained dogs develop greater self-confidence due to their ability to perform complex and useful tasks.

  3. Stress reduction: Training provides structure and purpose to the dog's life, reducing anxiety and stress through a well-defined routine.



  1. Interaction with Other Dogs and People: During training, dogs interact with other dogs and people, improving their social skills and ability to work in teams.

  2. Adaptability to New Environments: Search and rescue dogs are exposed to various environments and situations, becoming more adaptable and less reactive to new stimuli.


Sense of Purpose

  1. Utility and Sense of Achievement: Dogs trained in search and rescue disciplines often display a sense of achievement from helping and protecting people.

  2. Commitment and Motivation: Having a specific job and tasks to do keeps the dog motivated and committed, improving its general well-being.

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