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Before you hire anyone... Ask Questions!


All tracking dogs and K9 Handlers are NOT Created Equal.  

Make sure you hire the best TEAM based on the needs of your missing dog's situation.


The Tracking Dog Triad

What you should know about scent.



A K9 Handler's greatest tools are her trained dogs and her ability to understand what they are telling her. There is no better tool to confirm that a sighting was in fact your dog or to alert that your dog has been picked up in a car. 


I have worked scent specific tracking dogs for 20 years but every time I step behind a dog to search, I feel that same exhilaration and awe at what well trained and motivated dogs are capable of.

If you are considering hiring a tracking dog team, please understand that not all K9 Handlers or Tracking dogs are created equal. I will go on further to say that  the training of tracking and scent dogs varies from professional and effective to downright riducules. Many pet detectives, MAR technicians, search and rescue handlers and other dog experts are not necessarily capable of performing a search and investigation for a missing dog . Because someone has a web site that says they have a search dog does not necessarily mean that this is true. You might be surprised to learn that most of the individuals advertising on the internet have never been in Search and Rescue nor have they ever handled, trained or worked a dog for that purpose. The term search dog is used today on a carte blanche basis for anyone who chooses to get a dog and put a search vest on. Be very careful or you may end up being very discouraged as have others who have hired inexperienced K9 handlers to help in their search only to find out that the handler and dog had limited experience both in the art of tracking and at working a missing dog crisis.

Some suggestions that may help decipher the professionals from the hobbyists and the scam artists:

  1. Be aware of Internet scams that claim a pet detective or handler and will come look for your pet. They ask you to pay on line without talking to anyone. This is a scam. 
  2. You are looking for a CERTIFIED handler that is experienced with working all types of missing dog cases. Their dog team needs to have the ability to do a scent scan and follow a trail for a few miles.
  3. Certified K9 Handlers can be found on the national directory for MASDN - The Missing Animal Scent Dog Network. MASDN is the only network that  trains and certifies K9 Handler's for this specialty. Beware of organizations that offer Pet Detectives, etc. These organizations certify their pet detectives in a weekend seminar and do not work with them in the day to day training or mentoring regime required. 
  4. Very important to know: Search dogs look for missing people not missing animals. ALL true search dogs will be proofed against looking for animals. Time and time again, pet owners will find someone who says they have a search dog to come and look for their dog and get no results. The pet owner then feels that using dogs to find missing pets is not valid.       Scent Specific dogs that do this work... are trained to do this work... period.
  5. Anyone doing this work professionally will have more than one dog on their team and be sure at least one of the dogs is scent specific... meaning the dog will follow the specific scent of your pet.
  6. If your dog is shy or you know the dog is roaming, be sure the K9 Handler's K9 Team can check sightings AND that the K9s on the team have a clear alert for "no scent." This is imperative when checking sightings.
  7. Professionals will have a contract that spells out what you can expect. They should be able to take credit cards like any other business. Never give cash or wire money to anyone's bank account or through Western Union or Wal Mart. This is the mark of a scam.
  8. Be particulary cautious if the individual does not want you to go with them on the search. If the individual asks you to stay at home and wait for their call...I would forget it. Ask about this before you hire anyone. There is no mystery or reason that a pet owner cannot view the investigative and search process. The pet owner many times provides valuable information while we are searching that moves the case forward. If the pet detective says you cannot go... do not hire them.
  9. Ask for their credentials, background and history... how did they get into this field? Are they from search and rescue? Law enforcement as a K9 handler? The professional you need will have at least two years in this industry and/or is being mentored by a recognized professional. They should have learned their handling skills from a hands on professional or trainer not by reading a book and becoming a K9 Handler. Many MAR technicians achieved their handler skills by reading a book or taking an online class. This is not real training or real experience.
  10. Ask for five client testimonials and references with phone numbers.... and call them.
  11. Be clear on what you need... tracking dogs are one skill while attraction and capture of a roaming dog is quite something else. Do not assume that because someone has a tracking dog that they know how to capture your shy dog too.

Employing trained scent specific tracking dogs with an experienced K9 Handler and investigator can move your search to the next level resulting in the location and recovery of your missing family member.
Be clear on what you need and do not be afraid to move on and find someone else if the handler on the phone does not sound like someone you can trust. 

Angie's K9 Team finds Lulu

Angie and K9 Oliver

Angie found Carole Anne


What you should know about scent.


About Karin TarQwyn

On Location with Tracking Dogs



K9 Profiling... Home by Phone Recovery

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