Skip to main content

Cadaver Dog Training

Collage of cadaver dog training sessions



Burned Human Remains HRD K9 Training - Nov. 3-5
Water Recovery of Human Remains Level 2/Advanced - Nov. 17-19

Burned Human Remains HRD K9 Training
Nov. 3-5, 2023  |  Limit 15 teams  |  $490.00
Cullowhee, NC

Registration for this event is now closed.

This course is available ONLY to law enforcement, fire, and formal emergency response personnel with human remains detection canines. Documentation of agency affiliation will be required for all participants for this specific training. This class will include a hands-on component using a controlled-burn scene with human remains.  Be mindful that negative emotions “carry down the leash” to the K9, so if you are not well prepared for the actual scientific process of burning remains, then we recommend that you please join us in one of our many other cadaver K9 trainings planned for spring, summer, and fall of 2023.  We can also host small agency training for small groups- as scheduling allows.

This course builds on previous WCU HRD K9 Trainings with Dr. Briggs and Edwin Grant and is dedicated to advancing HRD K9 recovery abilities for cases involving accidental or purposively deaths of victims by fire. It is expected that the K9 (and handler) have experience in odor detection of human remains, and the K9 have a solid final response/indication.  While the focus of the course will be on the recovery of full body burned cadaver, cremains, burned tissue, and burned bone fragment, training will also occur at our regular cadaver facility (The Forensic Osteology Research Station at Western Carolina University) as well as other training facilities in the Western North Carolina.

* Limited spots are available for observers in Law Enforcement and Professional Emergency Responders at $245.

*Official credentials will be required for verification at time of registration for anyone wanting to participate.

Water Recovery of Human Remains
Level 2 - Advanced Course
Nov. 17-19, 2023  |  Limit 10 teams  |  $490.00
Cullowhee, NC

Registration for this event is now closed.

While a variety of boats are allocated to course instruction, student capacity will be limited to a small number of HRD K9 handlers due to the duration it takes with each dog/handler in water craft situations.   This will give more one-on-one time for instruction when the class size is lower.

The last day of training will be at the Forensic Osteology Research Station at Western Carolina University where K9s will be imprinted on large source (full and partial cadavers at various levels of decomposition).

The cost of the course will be $490 per K9, and includes lunch at lake(s) on Friday and Saturday, as well as a WCU Water Recovery K9 Training T-shirt.

While we will have a “socialization” boat available to build the confidence of the K9 and handler, it is expected that the working dog that attends this course has had previous exposure and comfort in water crafts as well as has been imprinted on human remains in water sources, and has a fully-trained final response.  While K9s/handlers with less exposure to water recovery searches and training (because we are always asked if we will) the expectation of the handler should match the experience of the K9 for this advanced course.

“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


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.

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).

Office of Web Services