American Patriot K9 Training

Matthew T. Zarrella (401) 226-1631

K9 Search & Rescue Training

Classes are offered in the following disciplines:

Human Remains Detection, Disaster Search (Live Persons) Disaster Search (Cadaver), Trailing,

Wilderness (Air Scent), Water search, Article Search



Human Remains Detection

In 1992 I learned how to handle my first "Body Dog" as it was referred to then under the tutelage of Mr. Andy Rebmann Trooper First Class, Connecticut State Police (Ret.). Andy now owns and operates K-9 Specialty Search Associates with Marcia Koenig in Seattle, Washington.  As a young trooper, I had a deep desire to become a law enforcement canine handler in order to help my fellow human beings.  As I later found out cadaver search would become the toughest type of search work I would ever do with my dogs.


Disaster Live Person Search

With hard work and dedication, I learned to channel my energy by focusing on what is most important in this business, "READING YOUR DOG".  The importance of reading your dogs subtle body language and how to put that skill to work cannot be under estimated or over stated.  Using dogs to look for bodies in rubble is a damanding tasks.  Over the years, I have refined my skills even further has a handler and teacher with my own experiences participating in disaster searchs around the north east and southern parts of the country.  


Disaster Cadaver Search

During my 23 year career as a search and rescue dog handler I have come to believe that handling a well-trained canine to detect human remains is a true art as much as it is a science and it is no different when searching in a disaster type senario as in this land slide depicted to your right.   I found that implementing sound, proven, grass-roots training methods to my canine program, made a huge difference in our overall performance on a search as well as boosting my confidence in my dogs abilities.  It is these same training methods that have aided me in my work that I offer in my training of other teams today.

 I invite you to come and learn with your dog as well!


Training a dog to trail or follow the path of human scent is an extremely rewarding and fun experience.  I have had more fun teaching a canine team to trail than probably any other scent discipline.  Traditionally, if there is an acurate PLS, the trailing dog is an excellent tool to start the search with.  Even if the canine team is only provided with a general area where the missing person was last seen, by casting your dog in that area, you have a chance to get a direction of travel.  If a scent article is provided, it may increase your chances of obtaining an accurate trail by scent discrimination.  I will typically customize a trailing class based on the skill level of the canine team to give my students the best opportunity to learn how to become a reliable trailing resource with their dogs. 




Wilderness Search

Wilderness search is usually the first scent discipline I teach when I am training a young dog for the first time.  Because I have had to cross train many of my search dogs, I find that this type of search is learned quickly by the dog and once completed, provides him/her with a solid foundation on searchng for live human scent.  Wilderness search is one of the fastest ways to cover a large area for a missing person, especially when there is no (PLS) or place last seen This type of search discipline can be conducted with or without a scent article dependng on how the dog is trained.

 Water Search

Water search is a sent disciplines that most people find quite fasinating. During my career I have had the opportunity to work on many water search cases with my dogs and in a wide variety of situations to include rivers, lakes and the Alantic Ocean.  I believe that water search is one of the most difficult search disciplines to conduct and I go to great lengths to teach my students how to read their dogs while working shoreline problems as well as working off a water craft. There are several key elements to being successful in water search and as a student in my class, you will learn what they are and how to apply them to your dog and to your search.