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Cadaver Dog Training

Collage of cadaver dog training sessions


Winter Session in the Mountains:
Beginner & Refresher Course: Full Cadaver
November 11-13, 2022
Limit 18 Teams  |  One K9 per handler  |  $499.00 per person

Register Online  - Registration Opens at 1:00pm EST on Friday, October 7.
Lunch will be provided on Friday and Saturday along with a course T-shirt.  A couple of spots are available for observers (accompanying a registered attendee) at $250.00 each.  Email for more information on Observer spots. 

 This course is designed to imprint beginner K9s, and serve as a reinforcement of foundations for the more advanced K9s, on full body human remains, buried full body remains, bone fragment, as well as lower threshold source.

The training will begin with classwork on the basics of the K9 olfactory system and scent detection work, and the reinforcement of how to limit handler error and intentional and unintentional cuing.  A focus of our training is to develop the working K9 to be able to detect, and give a final response at source independently and confidentially on its own.  After the 101 crash course of the HRD K9 and handler duty, K9s will be grouped by level of experience and begin the training by imprinting K9s on low threshold human remains and advance to large source (full body), buried remains (full and partial body), as well as scattered human bone fragment.  This will be a challenging task to accomplish in just 2.5 days, and we will all be mindful to keep these tasks positive and productive.

For area lodging options visit: Be sure to ask for a "WCU" rate if the hotels offers it.

Lead instructors include:

Edwin Grant (Active K9 handler/trainer, Retired Game Warden, NCMEC TAC, SBI HRD Task Force, Department of Homeland Security Reunification Team, Necrosearch, Kenyon International member, etc),

Ken Mathias (Retired Director of SBI K9 program, Retired Raleigh Police Department K9 program, and United States Police Canine Association Executive Board Member).

Dr. Lisa Briggs (Active Criminologist, Active HRD K9 Handler, Director Emergency and Disaster Management Program, Director WCU HRD K9 Program, NCMEC TAC, SBI HRD Task Force, Department of Homeland Security Reunification Team, etc),

Other qualified instructors will be added as needed:  We anticipate hiring a forensic anthropologist to teach a mini osteology exposure course during this training.


Thanks to the many cadaver donors who have given their remains in the name of science to Western Carolina University, the craft of training human remains detection dogs is possible.

“Do not expect a HRD K9 to recovery that which it has not been imprinted on, nor expect it to give a reliable and accurate final response if it has not been well trained on the many VOCs of actual human decomposition.”  -- Dr. Lisa Briggs

NOTE: All participants will be required to follow federal, state and university COVID practices that exist at the time of the training. Currently, facemasks are no longer required inside all university buildings.


Western Carolina University's Cadaver Dog Training Workshops are held on the main campus in Cullowhee, North Carolina. The workshops are offered in cooperation with the Forensic Osteology Research Station and the Emergency and Disaster Management Program at WCU.

These land-based workshops allow participants to work search areas including grassy fields, mountainous terrain, urban environments, buildings, and vehicles. Participants will have the opportunity to work a wide range of source materials; including the ability to expose their dogs to full body decomposition in the Forensic Osteology Research Station (FOREST).

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