Canine Search Specialist Training (CSST)

The Disaster Canine Search Specialist course teaches the basic skills necessary for a NASAR Disaster Canine Team (handler and canine) to work safely and reliably in a disaster environment. This course also teaches what to look for when selecting a dog for canine disaster response.  This class includes a realistic exercise in a mock disaster environment. The CSST course is taught utilizing industry standard curriculum and is intended to meet the CSST requirement for NASAR's Canine Disaster Responder certification program.    Upon completion, the participant will be issued a NASAR Certificate of Completion which will meet the NASAR CSST course requirement for NASAR's CDR-Live Type II, Type III, and CDR-HRD Type A certifications.

Who Should Attend

Those interested in becoming involved or have become involved in canine disaster response and CDR handlers who would like to maintain or refresh their knowledge of canine disaster response. The course is also appropriate for handlers who want to learn what to look for when selecting a dog for this specialty.

Search Managers who may be involved in disaster response will be instructed on what to look for when selecting a canine team, what standards the canine team should be trained to and the level of support the CDR teams need to be successful.


  • Canine Selection
  • Safety
  • Canine Behavior and Drive
  • Role of the Helper
  • Bark Alert
  • Direction and Control
  • Agility
  • Rubble Search
  • Search Strategy and Tactics
  • Canine First Aid
  • Scent Theory

After Completion

 Upon successful completion of the CSST course, the student should be able to:

  • Describe the components of canine selection.
  • Describe the basic aspects of canine communication, behavior, and drive.
  • Describe the function of the helper in canine disaster training.
  • Explain and apply the training necessary to teach the canine to perform an independent bark alert indicating live human scent.
  • Describe the canine olfactory system.
  • Describe contributors to the human scent complex.
  • Describe influences on scent dispersal.
  • Describe and apply the basic principles of canine direction and control when working with a canine.
  • Explain the principles and demonstrate the methods of canine agility training.
  • Explain the rationale for canine foundation training and the advanced skills necessary for a canine to effectively search in a disaster environment.
  • Explain how to prepare a canine search team for working in confined spaces.
  • Explain how to prepare a canine search team to deal with issues related to lifting and heights.
  • Describe how the Search Team interacts with other functions and disciplines during Task Force operations.
  • Describe the current NASAR Canine Disaster Response certification process.
  • Demonstrate the physical assessment and stabilization of an injured or ill canine.
  • Given a search scenario and field conditions, demonstrate the skills necessary to conduct a canine search in accordance with established canine search methodology.