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FAQ

FAQ: Crisis Response Canines

What breed of dog is the best for crisis response?

There is no one breed of dog that is more appropriate for responding to critical incidents than another breed.  As with their human counterparts, the characteristics of a true canine responder lie within the individual canine.

Each individual canine should be assessed for core traits that indicate a high potential for thriving in the critical incident environment.

 

Who takes care of the crisis response canines when they’re not working?

Each canine is a member of the handler’s household, lives indoors and is cared for and loved by the handler and members of their family.

What are the age requirements for the crisis response canine?

A canine should be 18 months of age minimum to begin formal training. Crisis response canines, as they get older, may be semi-retired for as long as the canine shows the interest in working.

Why is the minimum age 18 months for the crisis response canine?

While each individual canine matures at their own pace, by 18 months of age working canines typically have the maturity, focus, impulse control, basic training, socialization and life experiences they need to maximize their efforts in formal training.

Are there things I can do until my dog is old enough to begin training as the crisis response canine?

Yes. You can provide a solid foundation for your canine by working with a trainer who will guide you through gentle socialization, low-key and varied positive community experiences, basic obedience and handling skills, and learning how to understand the language of dogs.

  • Always allow your young dog to gently learn at his own pace.
  • Avoid exposure to ‘big scary things’ until you’re certain your dog has passed through his developmental fear stages (typically by 18 months).

I have a service dog. Can we train to be a crisis response canine team?

Yes. The same requirements apply. Often, your service dog may be specifically focused on their tasks that assist you and is not willing to divert his attention to interact with strangers. In this case, if your service dog is assessed for safety and resilience working in the crisis environment, you may choose to train to respond as a Strike Team Support with your service dog.

Every canine is an individual, so we invite you to contact us to open a conversation to see if crisis response work might be right for your service dog and you.

I don’t have a dog but my friend does. Can I train to be a crisis response canine team with someone else’s dog?

Yes. The same requirements apply. Additionally, as each canine is a member of the handler’s household, lives indoors and is cared for and loved by the handler and members of their family, you would need to live in close proximity to the canine’s household. This is to allow you and your canine partner to spend time with each other on a daily basis for walks, grooming, play, training, exercise, and community experiences.

 

Professionally, our staff works with people in crisis. Can we train a dog to work with several staff members?

Perhaps. It’s typical for crisis response canines to be willing to work for only one handler. In the case where two handlers would like to work with a single canine, NATIONAL would assess the individual canine for the potential to work for more than one handler.

If the canine demonstrates the interest in working for two handlers, a second handler may individually train and certify with the canine after the canine has successfully certified with it’s first handler.

As each canine is a member of the handler’s household, lives indoors and is cared for and loved by the handler and members of their family, the second handler would need to live in close proximity to the canine’s household.

Every canine is an individual, so we invite you to contact us to open a conversation to see if crisis response work might be right for this dog and your professional staff.

FAQ: Comprehensive real world Training vs Weekend Programs

How long does it take to train a certified crisis response canine?

The answer to this will vary with each handler and canine in training. Each crisis response canine team must successfully complete the 6 month curriculum and practicums, and the 3 day qualification practicals.

You may need additional time depending on previous experience, existing involvement with community organizations, and the time you can commit to regular training. When needed, you may extend your training up to a maximum 18 months.

I’ve heard about programs that will certify crisis response teams in a weekend. Why does it take NATIONAL so long to train a certified crisis response canine team?

NATIONAL Crisis Response Canines invests in fully developing our volunteers and canines by taking the time needed to train them in the real world.

During training, NATIONAL Crisis Response Canine teams support state and community emergency management multi-agency drills, disaster simulations and other training exercises, as well as outreach, safety and health programs that teach our crisis response canine teams how to be prepared for a coordinated response to any disaster or crisis.

Through collaborative efforts amongst community agencies, we build the working relationships and knowledge of local resources during our training.

This real-world training allows our canine strike teams to be fully prepared to safely and effectively respond wherever and whatever the critical incident is.

How will I know if crisis response work is right for my dog?

Dogs by their nature, are sensitive to the feelings of people. Some dogs will find the intense emotions of people in crisis to be very distressing. Likewise, a dog may become distressed if s/he senses its handler is distressed in the crisis environment. 

Effective crisis response depends on teamwork, and both ends of the leash must be committed to the work. 

The structure of the Canis Major+Canis Minor program provides a safe way to determine if crisis response work is right for you and your dog. The safety and ethical treatment of the canine and its handler is always our primary concern.

Can I apply for the Canis Major + Canis Minor™ mentorship without a canine?

Yes. Each of us have the skills, experience, compassion and heart of service to help those who are hurting. We invite you to ‘Join the Conversation’ to see how your experience and skills can be used for the greater good.

‘Join the Conversation’ is an informal conversation with a certified crisis response handler, a volunteer in-training, and folks like yourself who have questions about whether this work is right for them.

Please contact us if you’d like to ‘Join the Conversation’ . We’ll get back to you promptly with more info about an upcoming ‘Join the Conversation’.

What are the pre-requisites for applying for training?

Click here for more details.

What are the requirements for certification as a crisis response canine team?

Click here for more details.

I still have questions about training to be a crisis response canine team. Is there someone I can speak with?

Yes. We invite you to ‘Join the Conversation’ to see how your experience and skills can be used for the greater good.

'Join the Conversation' is an informal conversation with a certified crisis response handler, a volunteer in-training, and folks like yourself who have questions about whether this work is right for them.

Please contact us if you’d like to ‘Join the Conversation’. We’ll get back to you promptly with more info about an upcoming ‘Join the Conversation’.

FAQ: Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, Pet Therapy Dogs, and Working Dogs

The FAQs about service dogs, emotional support animals and pet therapy dogs are provided here to foster a better understanding of the different types of dogs you may encounter in public places.

Is it okay to pet a working canine?

For everyone’s safety, ask first. Please do not approach or pet any dog you don’t know.

If the dog is a working canine, their attention has to be on their handler and the tasks they’ve been trained to do. Approaching or petting a working canine distracts the handler’s and the canine’s focus from their work.

Working canine handlers are trained to be aware the public’s interest in their canines. When appropriate, the handler may acknowledge your interest by asking you if you’d like to meet their canine. Please understand the handler and canine are always ‘on the job’ even during meal breaks.

Do working canines ever get a chance to play?

Yes. Our working canines and handlers enjoy playing as much as your family pet and you do!

Working canines are trained to recognize their working uniform, so when their work gear goes on, they know they’re in work mode. Once the work gear comes off, they’re free to play, socialize, explore, rest and daydream as they choose.

Just as we all need a short break from the pressures of the workday from time to time, you may catch a working canine playing a game of tug, fetch or find-it with their handler during a rest break.

Crisis response canines respond to those who are hurting. Are they considered service animals?

Not at all. Here’s why. To meet the requirements of being a service dog, the dog must be assisting an individual with a disability and the dog must be trained to mitigate that individual’s disability. By comparison, crisis response canines and their handlers respond to the general public and the responder community.

Crisis response canines respond to people who are experiencing intense emotions from crisis and trauma. Are they considered emotional support animals (ESA)?

No. Here’s why. To meet the requirements of being an ESA dog, the dog must be supporting an individual who’s received a mental health diagnosis from a medical professional. By comparison, crisis response canines and their handlers respond to the general public and the responder community.

Are crisis response canines the same thing as pet therapy dogs?

Not at all. Here’s why. Many people are familiar with the pet therapy dogs they’ve seen in nursing homes, libraries or schools. They’ve experienced the power of the human-canine bond when a dog’s friendly demeanor lifts the spirits or elicits happy memories in the residents of assisted living facilities, or fosters an encouraging learning environment for children.

The same wordless communications of dogs are also effective in a crisis environment. However, the chaotic, unpredictable nature of crisis requires skills, temperament, stress management and training quite different than those needed when working in normal, predictable surroundings.

For everyone’s safety, it’s critical that only certified crisis response canines be deployed to crisis incidents.

Here’s why. While most dogs are sensitive to the feelings of people, many dogs find the intense emotions and behaviors of people in crisis to be extremely distressing. The canines' natural survival instincts prompt them to move away and avoid people, especially strangers, showing signs of distress, grief, frustration or anger.

By comparison, NATIONAL’s Crisis Response Canine teams are specifically assessed and receive special training to work in the complex physical environments of disasters and to safely interact with people experiencing intense emotions in the aftermath of crisis.

Can NATIONAL Crisis Response Canines train and certify my service dog, emotional support animal or pet therapy dog?

No. These FAQs about service dogs, emotional support animals and pet therapy dogs are provided to foster a better understanding of the different types of dogs you may encounter in public places.

Please see the US Department of Justice’ website for a better understanding of service dogs and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The information is presented in a easy to understand question-answer format.

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