How We Work

Our dog-handler teams are capable of providing a service unlike any other field research practice. 


Instead of approaching an issue one factor (or species) at a time, we locate and provide data on multiple facets of any given ecosystem, at rates unmatched by other techniques. This broad-scale information points researchers toward the best actions to take to successfully rehabilitate ecosystems and increase the long-term resilience of species against future impacts.

We are on the leading-edge in the selection, training and fielding of our dogs. 

Training and maintenance of the skills of our dogs has long been our primary focus for success in this field and we are incredibly proud of our work thus far, meeting and exceeding the highest standards for success. 

Our teams provide valuable information to natural resource managers, researchers and conservation organizations leading to important conservation outcomes, including:

  • Identification of the stressors most responsible for the decline of Southern Resident killer whales between Washington and British Columbia, determining necessary actions to reduce toxin exposure, disturbance from whale watching vessels and the effect of the decreased population of Chinook salmon, the whale’s primary prey;

  • Location of endangered caribou herds in Alberta, Canada, preventing construction of roads that would otherwise have destroyed the critical lichen habitats upon which this species depends;

  • Expansion of the known range of the endangered pacific pocket mouse, a small but very critical species for maintaining the function of threatened sage-scrub ecosystems, digging burrows that increase nutrient cycling in the soil, dispersing seeds and encouraging plant growth.

  • Identification of the encroachment of the invasive barred owl as the primary stressor responsible for the decline in spotted owl populations in the pacific northwest.


Our services include:

  • Customized study protocol creation
  • Sample collection and storage
  • Laboratory analysis 

Our handlers are trained and equipped to collect track logs of surveys on Garmin handhelds, Dataloggers, and HP Ipaqs. In addition, for each sample we complete a customized electronic form that is spatially linked to a GPS location that can easily be imported into ESRI files as well as Google Earth. Customized forms can include characteristics of the scat, confidence in the scat identification, habitat characteristics, as well as link the sample to the team, time, and location of the sample.


A program of the University of Washington's Center For Conservation Biology

Content © 2018 by Conservation Canines

Photos © Jaymi Heimbuch Photography, LLC. Contact directly for image licensing and permissions.