Human Remains Detection (HRD)

HRD dogs are specially trained to hunt for and locate deceased individual and human remains. They are an incredibly valuable tool for society and oftentimes the determining factor in whether a recovery is successful. From locating minuscule amounts of virtually unidentifiable evidence in criminal cases to providing closure to distressed families, HRD dogs work under law enforcement, civilian handlers and other investigative personnel to help close missing person cases. 

These incredible dogs are often required to work a large variety of environments in all weather conditions. From individual rooms inside of a building to hundreds of outdoor acres across variable terrain, the demands of an HRD K9 – handler team are extensive. The variability within working environments requires significant stamina and a thorough familiarity of navigating settings where odor movement differs substantially. It is imperative that an HRD K9 can generalize a massive spectrum of target odors in their various forms, states and combinations while ignoring similar non-target odors such as animal remains. 

HRD dogs are expected to successfully locate fresh bodies, bodies going through all stages of decomposition, and bodies which have been skeletonized for years. They are also expected to successfully locate any portion of human remains in their varying states of decomposition, from human teeth to flesh, individual limbs and everything in between. It is imperative that these dogs are able to distinguish the scent of human decomposition from all other species to prevent them from generalizing the odor profile too broadly and alerting on animal remains. 

Most HRD dogs work off lead at a distance from their handler while covering large amounts of area; however, in certain environments they are worked on lead or indoors and expected to search much more slowly and methodically. It is important that both a dog and handler understand the most optimal search strategy for each individual deployment and are able to conduct their search accordingly. HRD handlers are often working a delicate balancing act between directing their ranging K9’s movement when necessary without cuing them or disrupting active searching. 

Handlers must be able to effectively read their dog as they work and determine when their dog is nearing target odor opposed to when they are showing interest in something irrelevant. HRD requires an immense amount of teamwork between dog – handler teams, but it is a highly rewarding, necessary and purposeful discipline.

Our HRD Program

Our HRD training program prepares you and your K9 for national certification and effectively deploying in a variety of environments.

Our programs are tailored specifically to the demands of the team’s specific disciplines. We can prepare dogs and their handlers for civilian SAR work, FEMA and disaster work or LE and investigative forensic work. We ensure that your K9 is exposed to a wide spectrum of odors included in the human decomposition VOC profile throughout the process, and we assist our students in locating quality large source seminars which will expose dogs to multi-component sources and full bodies.

At Synapse Canine, we have the education and experience to bring out the best in your dog.

If you have dog training goals, we want to help you achieve them!

Our Training Process

Step 1

We will conduct a suitability assessment of your dog’s natural working capabilities and aptitudes specific to the work to determine if they are a solid candidate for HRD training.

Step 2

We will “imprint” your dog on target odors specific to HRD training to ensure that they have a comprehensive mental picture of the associated VOC profile.

Step 3

Your dog will learn an indication which will be associated with the target odor profile. We typically teach passive indication types for HRD unless you will be working a FEMA or urban disaster dog.

Step 4

Your dog will learn to hunt in a wide variety of environments, and for a variety of durations, while learning to ignore distractions and irrelevant odors. Priority will be given to preparing dogs to work in the environments which they will most frequently be deploying. Supplementary training will be included to help strengthen the dogs working capabilities. Any supplementary training implemented during this stage will be specific to the needs of the K9 and handler.

Step 5

HRD specific training tailored towards certification preparation and deployment.

We also provide a great deal of instruction to future handlers during this training. Some of the skills we teach HRD handlers are:

  • Understanding the canine olfactory system and odor dynamics
  • Understanding the human decomposition process and how environmental and internal factors can impact it.
  • Implementing an effective search strategy in different environments
  • Record keeping for training and court
  • How to optimally store and handle training aids
  • How to work an HRD dog effectively without curing them
  • How to reward a dog without disturbing evidence
  • How to understand their dog’s behavior and maximize their working potential during training and in the field

Our HRD training program is very comprehensive and will ensure that you and your dog are getting the highest quality instruction possible in a complex and sometimes difficult to navigate discipline. 

Blood Detection

In cases where human remains may not be present, blood detection dogs are oftentimes used to locate oftentimes minuscule amounts of evidence. Blood detection is a specialized discipline where a dog is trained to detect and indicate on small to large amounts of blood which could be fresh or aged up to months. These dogs are oftentimes used by LE and investigative personnel during criminal investigations where evidence is necessary but may be difficult to locate. 

Our Blood Detection Dog program trains dogs to accurately identify fresh and aged blood in a variety of settings and at a variety of threshold levels. We are able to train Blood Detection Dogs to accurately identify blood at extremely low thresholds if desired, and programs are tailored specifically to the needs of the K9 – Handler team. 

Our Blood Detection Dog program is tailored primarily to the needs of law enforcement and forensic investigative personnel. We prioritize training dogs to work methodically in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments typical to their job. K9s are taught to work on and off lead, and skills necessary for effective handling during blood detection related deployments are cultivated in order to develop a team that is confident and effective during investigations. 

Although our Blood Detection Dog program is separate from our HRD training program, the training process will be structured similarly. If you are interested in learning more about this process, please see the “Our Training Process” section located within Human Remains Detection.

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Schedule your detection training program with Synapse Canine today.

Our HRD training services will help build the best dog for the job. From dog selection to troubleshooting concerning behavior of operational detection dogs, we are here to ensure that you get the most out of your K9. 

We also recognize that effective handling skills are 50% of the equation, so every one of our programs focuses on optimizing both dog and handler performance. The work you do is significant, and our customizable detection dog programs ensure that you reach your goals while getting the most out of your time and training efforts. 

Contact us today to ask about our programs or to book an appointment.