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Handler Training

Anyone who takes part in an actual search must have a valid first aid card, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and training in blood borne pathogens, as well as basic and intermediate helicopter training. You should have specialized training in hypothermia and the action to be taken to protect oneself and to treat a victim.

ABOVE ALL you should dress appropriately for the search conditions. Good footgear is vital. Do not end up limping down the trail with blisters. You will be expected to learn to use, and carry a compass as well as a whistle for signaling. You must know the uniform map system and have a basic pack and equipment. Handlers must be prepared to spend the night in the field in relative comfort using the food and equipment in your pack.

Handlers with the best trailing bloodhound in the world can still become a victim. A fall or even a sudden change in weather may mean a night in the wilderness. You must be prepared for the worst.

When filling out the search reports, document everything good and bad, we can all benefit from mistakes. Document the mistakes made, such as believing the reports of others instead of trusting your hound. Thinking that experienced teams are perfect, can discourage the novice handler from sticking with it. One of the most important things to remember is to trust your hound.

There are several books on the market that may assist you in training your bloodhound as well as provide hours of interesting reading. These books include THE COMPLETE BLOODHOUND by Catherine Brey and Lena Reed, MANHUNTERS! HOUNDS OF THE BIG T by William Tolhurst as told to Lena Reed, SEARCH DOG TRAINING by Sandy Bryson and MEET MR. GRIZZLY by Montague Stevens



Every time you train with your bloodhound, keep a record of the training. Training records, actual search reports, and training received, will become a part of the handling process. A three ring binder makes an excellent notebook. Make sure that your training records include the date, time of day, weather conditions, age of the trail, obstacles, runner's name, and a written summary of how the dog performed.

Detail the dogs' reactions when given the scent article, and any signs of excitement that he may show at certain places, special interests, and how he acts when he makes a find. As you and your dog become more experienced, the trails should become more difficult. Changes in terrain, weather, age, or length of the trail and other variables keep training interesting for both you and the dog. Do not forget to get him out into the night, as many of the searches are during the hours of darkness.

An experienced handler nearest to you will be assigned to assist and answer any questions that you may have or help you as you train and work your dog. You are encouraged to ask questions and be ready to train and work. After a while, you will observe a pattern of behavior in your dog that will enable you to read your bloodhound and understand when he is either on or off the trail, and when he is approaching the subject and how he identifies the runner. You will learn what kinds of conditions are good or bad for trailing.

You may notice indications of a scent pool or pool scent (the heavy scent area left when a person has rested for some time in the same spot). This is a place where your hound will show a great interest and sniff eagerly. Look around, there may be something there, which the subject dropped, or which would help identify the missing person.     

The notes and information in your notebook will indicate that you have trained your bloodhound and how you have trained your bloodhound. This is in the event that a case ends up as a criminal case and you are called to court to testify as to what your hound did on the search.


If you take part in an actual search, keep a written report (complete record) for yourself and send a copy to the training officer that will be forwarded to the newsletter editor for publication.


Clip and save any newspaper articles that mentioned you, while on that search. Try to complete the search report to the best of your ability. The report also requires a summary of what your hound did, your mileage and time, and other information.

Scent articles are one of the most crucial items to understand. A scent article often determines success or failure of a mission. If possible, obtain the scent article yourself. This is covered in the COMPLETE BLOODHOUND but is worth emphasizing.

Institution personnel and many law enforcement officers will not be familiar with proper collection or isolation of a scent article. Often the individual will be completely unrealistic in choosing, handling, or transporting a scent article.

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