What to Expect


GSSD holds 2 workouts a month, on Saturdays.  

New members with dogs CANNOT bring their dog until they become a Candidate and the dog passes an Evaluation.*

To train our dogs, we setup problems where someone hides in the wilderness while a searcher and their dog work to find the hider. There are several types of problems we setup:

Until you have a dog in training, you will either be hiding or following a searcher as they work a problem. Once you are training with a dog expect to continue hiding and following as well as working with your dog.

A typical workouts schedule for a Guest looks like:

The hide/search times have much more variance.  But this should give you an idea of how long you will be in the woods.

* 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

Hiding for Dogs

You may be hiding in the wilderness anywhere from 1-3+hours.

Please keep the following in mind to stay comfortable:

If you need gear, let GSSD know before the workout and you might be able to borrow some stuff.

Environmental Protection

In SAR, especially on dog teams, we do a significant amount of off-trail travel. This means you will be fighting through brambles, thistle, bogs, swamps, snow, and lots of PNW rain.

Consider bringing these items along for protection:


You will not be able to go on real search missions until you are an Apprentice and have completed certain Core Competencies and Training and have been approved to go out by our Operations Team.  GSSD is primarily responsible for missions in Pierce County, but we do respond to call from other counties or the state.  

GSSD participates in the following types of missions:

We are generally searching for one or more of the following:

Each type has its own set of training requirements and may be limited to specific-member participation. Direction and instruction will come from the Operations Committee.


You will need to have a car to get to base and then from one area to another.  Occasionally you can ride with other members, but it is not guaranteed.  

Your car should be able to accommodate the following:

Note: We mostly only travel on back-country roads, we DO NOT travel on hardcore off-roading and 4x4 trails.  A 4WD car is not mandatory, but that or an AWD car is nicer and more reliable to have.