K9 Requirements


All the dogs in Riverside County Search Dogs (RCSD) are owned and trained by the individual members. Each handler is responsible for all costs of buying, training, and deploying his or her dog. When not on a mission or training, they are “members of the family” who enjoy a special bond with their owner.

To the dogs, search and rescue is a game encouraged by offering a huge reward when a successful find is made. The dogs search out of love for the pure pleasure of running through the wilderness and knowing they are doing something to please their handler.

Different breeds of dogs make up RCSD, such as shepherds, labradors, and retrievers and all the breeds and mixes in between. The general requirements include a dog with a good temperament and working drive. Some handlers start with dogs they already have, while others select puppies specifically for search and rescue.

All dogs must pass a rigorous certification process and be re-evaluated every year. In order for a dog to be deployable on a call-out with RCSD, the dog must pass numerous, socialization, obedience, agility, endurance, and directional skills.


Obedience – All the dogs on our team have to be obedience trained and very social with humans, other dogs, and animals.

Agility – Dogs must be agile and able to climb on uneven surfaces and negotiate various types of terrain.

Directional – Dogs must be able to follow handler’s directions from a distance such as down in a creek or the other side of a road.

Helicopter – All the dogs must be able to be loaded and unloaded into a helicopter while the rotors are moving.

Transport – Dogs must be able to sit in the bed or cab of a vehicle with several other dogs and handlers to be transported to a search location.