Note: We are still calibrating our Evaluations*; things are being modified as we learn and may not apply to each and every round of applicants.

Evaluations will take place quarterly (every 3 months) and are required for Applicants to move on to the Candidate level. If the Applicant fails, they will be told why they failed, what they need to fix, and can still continue attending workouts as a Guest.**

The goal of Evaluations is to ensure potential Candidates and K9s have the skills needed to effectively participate in workouts and have the potential to be trained in SAR.

  • Candidates should have basic outdoor skills, fitness levels, and a basic understanding of GSSD protocols.

  • Dogs need to demonstrate a basic level of obedience, good socialization, off-leash skills, and workable drive.

* Parts of the evaluation may occur on different days and different locations depending on scheduling

** * Depending on the situation and our assessment of you and your dog, your evaluation period may be extended, or terminated at the discretion of the Onboarding or Training Committees, or the Board


  • Attend a minimum of 3 workouts as a Guest*

  • Respond to emails from GSSD regarding the application process in a timely manner

  • Complete the following NIMS Courses:

    • NIMS IS-700

    • NIMS IS-100a

    • NIMS IS-200

  • Dogs meet all prerequisites and are vaccinated

* You will be guided throughout the process by the Onboarding Committee


You will be sent a detailed document once you sign up for the Evaluation.* You will need to get a set number of points for each section to pass.

  • Gear

    • Pack Check for Candidate Gear List

    • Dog training tools and gear check

  • Dog Obedience + Temperament

    • Base Etiquette Checklist

    • Recall from XX ft with minor distractions (ie toys, people running or people making sounds) in XX seconds

    • Temperament - people + other dogs + horses/kids/bikes (dependent on evaluation location)

    • Car Etiquette - Sharing a car with a different person, getting into a different car, sharing a car with another dog

    • Not throwing a tantrum when left alone in car - dog must quiet within several minutes of you being out of sight

Human Skills

    • GSSD Radio Protocol

      • Call another person

      • Lock/unlock

      • Change channel

      • Scan a channel

      • Radio Care

      • Battery Care

    • Basic Navigation

      • Compass - Set declination, Identify north, Take 5 bearings within 3 degrees of actual (with 1 free retry)

      • GPS - Create marker, Navigate to marker, Record a track (all UTM)

      • Map - Find location on map, Navigate to a point, Identify some trails/roads

    • Endurance Hike - 5 miles in 2.5h with a 25lb pack. Up to 1/4 mile cross country. Up to 1500ft of elevation gain in one mile. Varies by location. There is always an ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ version.

    • Your relationship with your dog; reading/addressing your dog's behavior

Dog Skills

    • Off-leash walk (< 1 mile) with some off-trail through the woods

    • Dog's relationship with you

    • Dog Drive

      • Interest in toy vs. people vs. other dogs vs. food

      • 2 runaways

* Parts of the evaluation may occur on different days and different locations depending on scheduling