Certification Standards

American Police Canine Association Certification Standards

The following certification standards have been adopted by the American Police Canine Association (APCA). Each test is designed to determine the proficiency of the Police Service Dog team for certification in each phase of police work for K-9’s. It is highly recommended, that a Police Service Dog team graduating from an accredited training school be tested and accredited. The successful passing of and accreditation of these courses is acceptable testimony in court. Each test is based on a pass/fail basis.

I. Certifying Authority

Master Trainers will act as the certifying authority for all American Police Canine Association certification testing. Teams successfully completing certification testing in a specific phase will be issued a certification certificate and will be valid for a period of one (1) year from the date of issue.

II. Prohibited Equipment

Under no exception, will whips of any type be used during certification testing offered by the American Police Canine Association. Pinch collars and electronic collars may be worn by the K-9 during testing; however, collars of this style may not be activated during any certification phase.  Exposed sleeves will not be authorized during any APCA certification testing phases involving K-9 Aggression contact.  Only hidden sleeves or body suit equipment will be authorized for all APCA certification testing in aggression control, building search and area search phases.

III. Abuse of a K-9

During any APCA function, any Master Trainer/Trainer observing what they believe to be as cruel and/or abusive treatment of a K-9 reserves the authority to terminate an existing exercise immediately. The team will not be authorized to participate in the remainder of the function. The Master/Trainer will provide written documentation to the Accreditation Board concerning the facts pertaining to the incident for further investigation and or decision. The Accreditation Board will issue a decision as if the team will be allowed to complete the remaining function. The Accreditation Board retains sole authority pertaining to the issuance and or revocation of all Master Trainer/Trainer Accreditations and all K-9 team certifications. The Accreditation Board also retains sole authority as to the implementation and/or discontinuance of all APCA Certification Testing Standards. Decisions issued by the Accreditation Board pertaining to Accreditations and Certifications shall be final and may not be overruled by the Executive Board. Decisions issued by the Accreditation Board are not subject to a membership vote.

IV. Appeal

Any Police Service Dog team failing any certification test(s) may reapply for testing at the next and most convenient time and date.

Any association member failing a certification test(s), believing to have been judged unfairly, will at the time of the test, notify the Master Trainer of his/her appeal. The member shall file a written report of their personal observations and their reasons they believe to have been judged unfairly.

The Master Trainer upon being notified of the appeal will file a written report of his/her observations, all certification test sheets, and his basis for failing the team.

All reports will be filed within thirty (30) days of the certification test to the President of the American Police Canine Association (APCA). The President will then appoint an appeals committee in which all reports or copies thereof will be forwarded onto the committee by the President. The appeals committees findings will be returned to the President, at which time, the President will forward a copy of the findings to the member and the Master Trainer. The decision of the appeals committee must be by a majority vote and it will be final.

V. Membership

Police Service Dog teams desiring to be tested and certified under this associations standards must be regular members in good standing of the American Police Canine Association.

VI. Certification Validity

American Police Canine Association (APCA) Certifications issued to a regular member Police Service Dog team are VALID ONLY when the team is being utilized by:

  1. The law enforcement agency the Police Service Dog team is employed by.
  2. A law enforcement agency in which the Police Service Dog team is on official assignment to by authority of the law enforcement agency for which the team is employed. (ie., county, state, federal task force)
  3. A law enforcement agency requesting and receiving official mutual aid from the Police Service Dog teams law enforcement agency employer.

DISCLAIMERS: Under no circumstances will an APCA certification be valid when the Police Service Dog team is being utilized for any and all non law enforcement agency uses.

Under no circumstances will any regular member canine teams certifications be valid, if his/her membership status is not in good standing.

VII. Certification Fees

There will be no charge for APCA Certifications. Master Trainers may be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses, or be given a reasonable stipend to cover travel related expenses.

APCA Certification Testing Standards

Obedience Certification Test
This test is to determine the Police Service Dogs’ ability and proficiency in performing off lead obedience exercises and the handlers’ total control of his/her dog.

  • Passing this test is a prerequisite before proceeding to any other certification phase in which the dog will be utilized off lead.

The Police Service Dog team will be tested in the following three (3) phases:

  1. Heeling Phase
  2. Walking Phase
  3. Distance Phase

Each phase may be tested in any sequence and will be judged on a pass/fail basis.

  • No cruel or abusive corrections will be displayed by the handler at any time.

Master Trainers observing such abuse will document the violation and forward to APCA headquarters for file information.

Heeling Phase
This phase will consist of the following exercises:

  1. Normal pace
  2. Fast pace or at the double-time
  3. Slow pace or at the half-step
  4. A minimum of two (2) right turns; two (2) left turns; two (2) about turns
  5. Each leg of the above must be a minimum of thirty (30) feet long.

The different phases may be conducted on any leg. On one leg of the course, the team must heel through a group of, at least three (3) stationary people.

Walking Phase

  1. The handler and dog will start from the “Finish” position and walk forward together
  2. At a point designated by the Master Trainer, the handler without breaking stride, will place his/her dog in a “Stay” position (sit or down), and continue walking.
  3. At a point designated by the Master Trainer, the handler, while continuing to walk away from his/her dog, next commanding his/her dog to “Heel.”
  4. The Master Trainer will instruct the team to “About Turn” and then to walk forward.
  5. At a point designated by the Master Trainer, the handler without breaking stride, will “Stay” his/her dog, (sit or down), and continue walking.
  6. At a point designated by the Master Trainer, the handler will turn and retrieve his/her dog and return to the original starting point.

Distance Phase

  1. At a point designated by the Master Trainer, the handler will leave his/her dog in a “Stay,” at a distance of no less than twenty-five (25) feet, or more than fifty (50) feet.
  2. The handler will then be directed to turn and face his/her dog.
  3. The Master Trainer will then advise the handler to complete the following commands. “Sit & Down” (by voice) and / or “Sit & Down” (by hand signal)
    • Note: Choice and order of commands or signals will be at the discretion of the Master Trainer.
  4. The Master Trainer will then advise the handler to recall his/her dog by hand signal or by voice command.
  5. At a point prior to the dog reaching the handler, the Master Trainer will advise the handler to “Stop” his/her dog by voice or by hand signal. Stopping the dog may be by either a “Down, Sit or Stay” command.
  6. After the dog has stopped, the Master Trainer will advise the handler to recall his/her dog to the heel position by hand signal or voice command.

This test will be conducted on a pass/fail basis. The Master Trainer determines if the team will be certified upon completion of the test. If certified, the handler and dog are considered a team and it is the team that is certified. In the event the dog changes handlers, a new team will then exist, which will immediately invalidate the previous certification. The new team will then need to be certified.

This certification will be valid for one (1) year from the date of issue, providing the member remains in good standing and his/her membership dues are current.

Aggression Control Certification Test
This certification test is to determine a Police Service Dog teams capabilities, in the performance of specific exercises, while under simulated conditions which the team may encounter during their official duties. This test is designed to test the dog’s ability, proficiency, and courage,and the handler’s total control of his/her dog.

The Police Service Dog team will be tested in the following four (4) phases. Each phase is tested on a pass/fail basis and must be passed before proceeding to the next phase.

Aggression Control Test: Four (4) Phases

  1. False Start
  2. Recall
  3. Handler Protection
  4. Short Chase with Gunfire

Protective equipment in good condition will be worn by the suspect during each phase of the aggression control test. The type of lead used by the handler will be at his/her discretion, but will not be more than six (6) feet in length. Each phase will be completed off lead unless otherwise specified.

The gunfire phase of the test

  • will use .38 caliber handguns and .38 blank ammunition ONLY.

All weapons and ammunition will be safety checked by the certifying Master Trainer prior to the gunfire phase of the test.

Whenever possible, the suspect will be unknown to the dog. Those acting as suspects for the test may include handlers being tested, trainers, or other individuals approved by the Master Trainer, or the Master Trainers themselves.

  • In the phases requiring the dog to physically apprehend the suspect, the dog must fully engage and hold the suspect.
  • Failure to engage is grounds for failure.
  • In the phases requiring the dog to stop his pursuit and apprehension of the suspect, the handler may use any command or series of commands to control his/her dog.
  • The handler will inform the Master Trainer prior to testing as to the command sequence used.
  • Failure of the dog to release and/or to respond to obedience commands in a timely manner is grounds for failure.

Phase One: False Start
The handler will place his/her dog in the heel sit or down stay position. The suspect will then approach the front of the team and close to a distance of ten (10) feet from the team. The suspect may or may not engage in conversation with the team. The suspect will then walk or run away in the opposite direction of the team. The handler will command his/her dog to stay prior to the suspect leaving the teams vicinity. During this phase the dog must remain in the commanded heel position as the suspect leaves the area.

Phase Two: Recall
The dog will start this phase from the heel position. The suspect will be at a distance of approximately forty (40) yards away from the team. The Master Trainer will direct the suspect to run from the team in any direction. The Master Trainer will direct the handler to send his/her dog to make the apprehension. The suspect will stop and surrender, terminating the pursuit when instructed by the Master Trainer. The handler will call off the dog. The type of call off is at the discretion of the handler. The Master Trainer must be advised of the type of call off prior to the test.

Call offs may include the following:

  1. The dog is recalled to the heel position.
  2. The dog will be commanded to a down, sit or standing position, and the handler will join the dog.
  3. The dog will be commanded to a down, sit or standing position, and the handler will recall the dog.

The importance of this phase is that the suspect is not bitten or “mouthed” by the dog on the call off. Active non-aggressive contact made by the dog during the call off is not a failure. This phase is completed upon the dogs’ return to the heel position with the handler.

Phase Three: Handler Protection
This phase simulates a suspect being taken into physical custody by the handler. The handler commands the dog into a sit, down, or stay position at a distance of twenty feet (20) from the decoy.

The handler will approach and pat down the suspect. The suspect will simulate an attack upon the handler during the pat down/simulated handcuffing. The dog will apprehend and hold the suspect without command from the handler. The dog will be called off in any of the three methods as described in phase two (2). The dog is then placed back into the sit, down, or stay position.

The handler will pat down the suspect a second time with no attack being initiated by the suspect.

The dog will remain in the sit, down, or stay position. The Master Trainer will advise the handler to back away from the suspect and call his/her dog to the heel position. The phase is completed when the dog returns to the heel position with the handler.

Phase Four: Short Chase With Gunfire
The suspect will be approximately forty (40) yards distance away from the K-9 team. The suspect will be armed with a gun with .38 caliber blanks. The suspect will run away from the team and fire a minimum of two shots in a direction away from the dog. The handler will release the dog after the second shot and apprehend the suspect. The suspect will be ordered by the handler to drop the gun if still in his possession. The dog will be called off in any of the three methods as described in phase two (2). The phase is completed when the dog returns to the heel position with the handler.

  • Note: Handlers with dogs trained to ignore gunfire will notify the Master Trainer prior to this test phase.

This test will be conducted on a pass/fail basis. The Master Trainer determines if the team will be certified upon completion of the test. If certified, the handler and dog are considered a team and it is the team that is certified. In the event the dog changes handlers, a new team will then exist, which will immediately invalidate the previous certification. The new team will then need to be certified.

This certification will be valid for one (1) year from the date of issue, providing the member remains in good standing and his/her membership dues are current.

Area Search Certification Test
This test is to determine the Police Service Dog’s ability and proficiency in searching for a hidden suspect within a large area where a known track is not available.

The Master Trainer will determine the general area to be searched and the search time allocated for the test. During the test, the Master Trainer will observe the working team from a distance that minimizes distractions and/or interference for the team during the search.

The Handler will begin the test from a starting point he/she has selected, using downwind conditions (if present), located outside of the search area perimeters. The handler may conduct this test on or off lead.

  • If the test is conducted on lead, the lead utilized may not be shorter than six (6) feet nor longer than thirty (30) feet.

Standard leads, collars, correction collars, or harnesses may be used. The handler will advise the Master Trainer an area within ten (10) feet of the hidden suspect. The handler will command the hidden suspect to make the themselves physically or verbally known to the team.

The Suspect should be unknown to the dog, who is not normally used in the dogs training. The suspect will conceal themselves from the team, within the search area perimeters ten (10) minutes prior to the start of the test.

This test will be conducted on a pass/fail basis. The Master Trainer determines if the team will be certified upon completion of the test. If certified, the handler and dog are considered a team and it is the team that is certified. In the event the dog changes handlers, a new team will then exist, which will immediately invalidate the previous certification. The new team will then need to be certified.

This certification will be valid for one (1) year from the date of issue, providing the member remains in good standing and his/her membership dues are current.

Building Search Certification Test
This test is a simulation of a working building deployment. Three (3) types of building structures are authorized for use in this test. The Master Trainer will accompany the team during the test, in which his presence will represent a backup officer during an actual search. Officer survival using cover and concealment tactics during the test will be also evaluated.

Building Structure Types:

  1. Residences. Dwellings
  2. Warehouses, Stores, Barns, Open areas within a building
  3. School, hotels, office buildings, multi room interior.
  4. Any building judged acceptable by the Master Trainer.

Suspect:

  1. Will be hidden ten (10) minutes prior to the start of the test.
  2. Will conceal themselves in a location not visible to the K-9 team.
  3. Will wear protective equipment if necessary for protection.
  4. Should enter the building structure by a different entry route, than to be used by the K-9 team.
  5. Will be concealed at any height or depth.

Master Trainer:

  1. Will designate the area of the building to be used for the test.
  2. Will designate the area for the team to start their search.
  3. Will accompany the team into the building to observe the test.
  4. During the test, the Master Trainer will observe the working team from a distance that minimizes distractions and/or interference for the team during the search.
  5. A Master Trainer, who determines a dog not to be searching for the suspect will fail the team.

Handler:

      1. This test may be conducted on or off lead. Standard equipment may be used such as collars, harnesses, etc….
      2. The handler may encourage his/her dog with commands and/or praise as needed during the test.
      3. Under no conditions will the handler open any doors that are closed in his/her search area.
      4. The dogs’ indication in locating the suspect must be obvious to the Master Trainer.
        • The handler will advise the Master Trainer of their observations, when his/her dog indicates the presence of a suspect behind a closed door.

This test will be conducted on a pass/fail basis. The Master Trainer determines if the team will be certified upon completion of the test. If certified, the handler and dog are considered a team and it is the team that is certified. In the event the dog changes handlers, a new team will then exist, which will immediately invalidate the previous certification. The new team will then need to be certified.

 

    This certification will be valid for one (1) year from the date of issue, providing the member remains in good standing and his/her membership dues are current.

Article Search Certification Test
This test is to determine the Police Service Dogs’ ability and proficiency in searching a designated area for articles having human scent on them. The test represents a search for discarded evidence or lost items.

  • The Master Trainer will designate the search area for the test.

The Master trainer will observe the test from outside of the search area. The Search Area for testing purposes will be sixty (60) by sixty (60) feet in dimension. Ground surface will be covered by heavy vegetation less than ten (10) inches high. One or more persons will contaminate the test area by traversing through the area twice with a dog prior to the test.

Three Search Articles of different composition will be selected by the Master Trainer. Articles may consist of metal, wood, paper, plastic etc…and will be thrown at random into the search area.

  • One of the three articles used for testing must be of metal composition.

Articles to be used will be selected from, but not limited to, the following list:

  1. Plastic credit card
  2. Plastic/Metal cigarette lighter
  3. Shotgun shell
  4. Nylon/Leather Wallet
  5. Metal handgun
  6. Crumpled cigarette pack
  7. Wood handle tools
  8. Paper match book
  9. Keys
  10. Sunglasses

The Handler may conduct this test on or off lead at his/her discretion. The test will begin when the handler and dog enter the search area. The team will have approximately five minutes to search and locate the three articles being tested.

  • The dog must locate two (2) of the three (3) articles with strong indications on both articles to pass this test.
  • The dog will be judged on the alert and indication to the search article.

This must be obvious to the Master Trainer. After each indication and article recovery, the handler will command the dog to continue to search for the remaining article(s).

For testing purposes, it is preferred that the handler will elect to recover the article(s) him/herself, which were located by the dog.

Failure of this test may be based on the lack of handler control, disinterest on the part of the dog, biting of the Master Trainer or other non-aggressive personnel assisting in this test.

Tracking/Trailing Certification Test
The suspect will be unknown to the dog when possible.

Before the track is laid, the Master Trainer will inquire from the Handler, whether a suspect or a scent article from the suspect, will be at the end of the track.

Prior to conducting this certification test, the handler may request a scent article be placed at the beginning of the track.

The suspect will receive instructions from the Master Trainer for the method and direction that the track is to be laid.

The K9 team shall initiate an unknown track, consisting of a track aged up to one (1) hour, at the Master Trainer’s discretion, depending on climatic conditions.

There will be one (1) fresh cross track, laid at least five (5) minutes after the original track is laid. The cross track will be laid by a second person to test the dogs scent discrimination.

The team shall be required to track for a minimum distance of 1/4 mile. During the certification test the track shall include the following:

  • The track/trail must contain surface changes and a minimum of two (2) turns.
  • There is no time limit for the team to complete the track. However, if the Master Trainer deems the team to not be working, the Master Trainer may end the test, and it will be deemed a team failure.

This test will be conducted on a pass/fail basis.

Due to climatic conditions and the environment, the track will be at the discretion of the Master Trainer.

The Master Trainer determines if the team will be certified upon completion of the test.

If certified, the handler and dog are considered a team and it is the team that is certified.

In the event the dog changes handlers or the handler changes dogs, a new team will then exist, which will immediately invalidate the certification. The new team will then need to be certified.

This certification will be valid for one (1) year from the date of issue, providing the member remains in good standing and his/her membership dues are current.

Narcotic Detector Certification Test

This test is to determine the proficiency and reliability of Police Service Dogs in the detection of narcotics. The test will be conducted by an accredited Master Trainer in narcotics detection.

Teams will be tested in a minimum of three (3) test phase areas which are as follows:

  1. Vehicle Phase (Required)
  2. Building Phase (Required)
  3. Container Phase (Optional per Master Trainers discretion)
  4. Other Designated Areas (Optional per Master Trainers discretion)
  • Note: There will be a mandatory break between each test phase.
  • Certification testing will utililze a minimum of five (5) required controlled substances. Certification testing substances will include marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Additional substances may be tested in at the handlers request. The handler is responsible for supplying additional substances to be tested in for certification.
  • Pseudo narcotics are not authorized for narcotic detector certification testing.

Narcotic Detector Test

  1. A minimum of one (1) hide of each odor attempted to be certified in will be hidden in one (1) of the three (3) phases by the certifying Master Trainer.
  2. All certification testing phases will consist of four (4) search venues.
  3. Odors attempted to be certified in will have a minimum set time of twenty (20) minutes prior to beginning the test.
  4. Narcotics hides will be unknown to the team and may be placed high or low.
  5. Narcotics amounts to be used in the test will be determined by the certifying Master Trainer. A minimum of one (1) gram of each odor will be used in testing.
  6. The narcotic detector certification test will be conducted on a pass/fail basis.
  7. Only one (1) overall false / negative alert will be permitted to pass the certification test. A team negative alert is defined as any incorrect response by the handler or canine.
  8. Vehicle Phase Testing: The search area will consist of four (4) vehicles. The vehicles will be spaced in manner that cross contamination will not occur. Of the four (4) vehicles and in no specific order, one (1) vehicle will contain one hide. A second vehicle will contain a second hide. The remaining two (2) vehicles will be blank. Narcotics hides may be placed either interior or exterior per Master Trainers discretion.
  9. Building Phase Testing: The search area will consist of four (4) rooms. Of those four (4) rooms and in no specific order, one (1) room will contain one (1) hide. The second room will contain a second hide. The other two (2) rooms will be blank..
  10. Container Phase Testing: The search area will consist of one (1) row of four (4) containers. The container items will be spaced in such a manner that cross contamination will not occur. One (1) hide will be placed in one (1) of the four (4) containers. The remaining three (3) containers will be blank.
  11. Time limits during each search phase are per discretion of the certifying Master Trainer and so long as the Master Trainer determines that the team is working.
  12. The Certifying Master Trainer(s) conducting the test will be responsible for ensuring all test phase areas are safe for the certifying team(s). Certifying Master Trainer(s) will take every precaution in securing and concealing narcotics aides in an effort to prevent accidental exposure and ingestion of narcotics substances used for testing purposes.
  13. Searches may be conducted on and/or off lead at the handlers discretion.
  14. Searches may be conducted by free search and/or detailed search at the handlers discretion.
  15. The dogs reward toy or object used during the narcotic detector certification test will not contain any narcotics or narcotic odor/residue.
  16. Master Trainers certifying the narcotic detector team(s) will issue the certification certificate listing the narcotics odors certified by their laboratory names.

The test will be conducted on a pass/fail basis. The Master Trainer determines if the team will be certified upon completion of the test. If certified, the handler and dog are considered a team and it is the team that is certified. In the event the dog changes handlers, a new team will then exist, which will immediately invalidate the previous certification. The new team will then need to be certified.

This certification will be valid for one (1) year from the date of issue, providing the member remains in good standing and his/her membership dues are current.

Explosive Detection Dog Certification (Mandatory Required Testing)

K-9 team certification eligibility will be offered to active regular members who are deemed to be in good standing with the American Police Canine Association (A.P.C.A.).

Minimum Requirements to Certify

  • Only a A.P.C.A. Master Trainer accredited in Explosive Detection may conduct certification testing of an explosives detection team.
  • The term Aid shall mean an explosive substance.
  • All aids used in testing should be of recent manufacture and stored in separate containers.
  • It shall be the responsibility of the agency being tested to provide the testing aids. Strict safety measures shall be upheld during testing.
  • No smoking will be allowed in any testing areas.

All Explosive Detection K-9’s must find a total of six (6) aids which will be taken from the following groups:

  1. Powders (Black, Smokeless etc….)
  2. C4 or Flex-X Data Sheet (RDX)
  3. TNT
  4. Dynamite
  5. Primer Cord (PETN)
  6. Ammonium Nitrate
  7. Slurries (Water-Gel)

Testing is on a pass / fail basis and all decisions by the certifying Master Trainer are final.

  • Teams will not be allowed to miss any testing aids during the certification test.
  • If a team fails in one of the search areas, the Master Trainer has the discretion to either retest only the area missed or the entire testing process at a later time.
  • Only one retest attempt may be done on the same day as any failure.
  • The odor testing section must be passed before any search testing can be attempted.
  • The testing can be done over a one day period or more. This decision will be at the Master Trainers discretion. It is recommended however that all testing be completed on the same day.
  • All aids will be placed at least thirty (30) minutes prior to testing.
  • If an aid has to be moved to a new location, the previously used area can be removed as a testing sight. This decision is at the Master Trainers discretion.
  • Prior to the first detection team entering the test area, a man and a K-9 may be walked through the testing area. This is at the Master Trainers discretion.
  • Each handler must tell the Master Trainer how his / her dog will alert and response to an aid prior to testing.
  • Each indication to an aid by the canine must be obvious to the Master Trainer.
  • Any canine who scratches or shows any aggression toward an aid is an immediate failure.
  • Certification will be valid for a one (1) year period from the date of issue.

Explosive Quantities Used for Certifications

  • Each aid used for certification testing will consist of no less than one half  pound or one (1) stick of material by weight.
  • No pseudo odors will be used during certification testing.
  • No detonating devices will be placed with the aid or used in certification testing.

Search Area

The certification area will consist of four (4) rooms, four (4) vehicles, and four (4) rows of four (4) boxes and / or suitcases. Two (2) aids will be located in each search area with each aid being a different explosive.

  • Buildings:
    The search area will consist of four (4) rooms consisting of no less than four hundred (400) square feet each. Of those four (4) rooms, and in no specific order, one (1) room will contain one (1) aid, one (1) room will contain a second aid, and the other two (2) rooms will be blank.
  • Vehicles:
    The search area will consist of four (4) vehicles. The vehicles will be spaced in such a way that cross contamination will not take place. Of those four (4) vehicles, and in no specific order, one (1) vehicle will contain one (1) aid, one (1) will contain a second aid, and the other two (2) vehicles will be blank. Only exterior hides will be allowed.
  • Boxes and / or Suitcases:
    The search area will consist of four (4) rows. Each row will contain four (4) boxes or containers. The rows and items will be spaced in such a way that cross contamination will not take place. Of those four (4) rows, and in no specific order, one (1) row will contain one (1) aid, one (1) row will contain the second aid, and the other two (2) boxes will be blank.

Time Allotted

    • Buildings:
      Ten (10) minutes will be allotted to search all rooms. Time will start when the K-9 enters the first room. The handler will be asked to call the alerts as the team searches.
    • Vehicles:
      Ten (10) minutes will be allotted to search all vehicles. Time will start when the K-9 starts sniffing the first vehicle. The handler will be asked to call the alerts as the team searches.
    • Boxes and/or Suitcases:
      Ten (10) minutes will be allotted to search all boxes and/or suitcases. Time will start when the K-9 starts sniffing the first row. The handler will be asked to call the alerts as the team searches.

Alerts and Rewards

The K-9 handler must call the alert. The K-9 will not be allowed any false or negative alerts during the entire certification test. No explosive scented rewards will be allowed.

 

Explosive Odor Identification Testing (optional)

This testing provides for basic odor identification of explosive odors to ensure the team’s ability to indication on their presence.

The testing process shall be a series of rows of cinder blocks with glass jars inside each, or clean paint cans.

These items shall be placed in rows spaced equally apart to allow easy access by the teams to effectively check each.

All jars or cans shall be clean and due care shall be used to ensure no cross contamination of odors or contamination with human odors when placing and handling aids, jars or cans.

There shall be at least forty (40) containers or blocks used and maximum of(60) sixty.

Indication must be obvious in nature and the handler must notify the Master Trainer of each indication.

        • The handler may not point out hides or guide their dog to indicate on a hide.
        • Any urinating, defecating, or aggression shown towards training aids will be immediate failure.

Retesting is at the discretion of the Master Trainer, however no more than two attempts are allowed in the same day to pass this testing.

      • All aids will be placed at least thirty (30) minutes prior to testing.

The basic odors to be used are:

        • Powders (Black or Smokeless)
        • Commercial Dynamites
        • C4 or Flex-X Data Sheet (RDX)
        • TNT or Military Dynamite
        • Primer Cord (PETN)
        • Slurries (Water-Gel)

The maximum weight of the explosive used shall be unlimited; however, a minimum weight of a half (1/2) pound or stick shall be used for testing.

The term “Aid” shall mean an explosive substance.

      There shall be at least 6 aids used and maximum ten used. The more aids used the more total blocks or cans must be used. It must be proportional in nature.

 

      This is a pass/ fail testing format, and the final decision rests solely with the Master Trainer conducting the testing

Explosives Detection Search Test (optional)

The following areas may be used for testing. The canine team will be tested in four different areas. The areas will be picked by availability at the Master Trainers’ discretion.

The areas that can be tested in are:

      • Buildings-Interior
      • Vehicles
      • Building-Exterior
      • Aircraft
      • Baggage
      • Mass Transit Vehicle

Open Air Searching
Building Search: The building search will consist of a minimum of four rooms and a maximum of eight rooms. Each room should be realistic in setting. Only one explosive aid may be placed in each room. At least one room should contain no aid. The aids will be placed so the canine cannot retrieve it. The handler may not open cabinet doors, desk drawers, closet doors, etc.

Vehicle Search: Eight vehicles minimum with a maximum of twelve of any may be used. Only one aid may be placed on or in one vehicle. All detection will be done from outside the vehicle. One aid will be placed inside a closed engine compartment. Additional aids must be placed at the discretion of the Master Trainer and may be placed, but not limited to:

      • The exterior of the gas tank or fill pipe.
      • Drive shaft or under carriage
      • Interior of closed trunk
      • Closed (windows up), Passenger compartment
      • Underside and or outer body

Building Exterior Search:The exterior of any reasonable sized building may be used as a testing area. These may include buildings such as houses, office buildings, schools, warehouses etc. Hide location will be at the Master Trainers discretion, but common sense must prevail on locations used.

Aircraft Search: This will be at the discretion of the Master Trainer. Availability will be the ruling factor in the testing. The entire search shall include the interior and exterior of the aircraft along with all ground support equipment. One aid may be placed inside of the aircraft. Additional aids may be placed outside at the discretion of the Master Trainer. This can be either inside the aircraft or outside. All aids will be placed so the canine cannot retrieve them. Contamination rules (a bearer) will be strictly adhered to regarding the placement of aids inside any aircraft.

Baggage Search:Baggage shall be defined as hard and soft-shell suitcases, attach case, clothing bags, brief cases, golf bags, sea bags, duffel bags, etc…

There shall be twenty (20) bags minimum with a maximum of forty (40)bags may be used. (Bags may contain some clothing or other materials).

        • All aids will be placed inside the bags so the canine cannot retrieve it.

Bags may be placed in rows with enough space between each bag to allow the canine to search.

Mass Transit Vehicles: The Master Trainer based on availability will select the mass transit vehicles. Consideration may be given to the types of mass transit vehicles typically encountered by the handlers. These vehicles may include buses, trains, watercraft and etc. Training aids will be placed so that the canines cannot retrieve them. The Master Trainer will determine the number and placement of aids and blank areas.

Locker Searches: Lockers may also be used as a testing area. There should be at least fifty (50) lockers, and no more than two hundred (200) used. Hides may be in the lower portion or the upper portion of a locker. There must be a minimum of two hides and no more than three aids used for this testing.

Open Area Search: Open area to be no smaller than 50 X 50 yards. Aids will be placed at the discretion of the Master Trainer and may be placed anywhere from below the surface level to a maximum of 12 feet above surface level.

An open area may be:

      • Open Fields
      • Wooded Area
      • Any area outside not covered

Cadaver Detector Certification Test
This test is to determine the proficiency and reliability of Police Service Dogs in the detection of human remains. The test will be conducted by an accredited Master Trainer in Cadaver detection.

Teams will be tested in Four (4) phase areas which are as follows:

      1. Vehicle Phase
      2. Building Phase
      3. Buried Land Search
      4. Other Designated Areas: rubble, water, disarticulated remains
      • Note: There will be a mandatory break between each test phase.
      • Human remains consisting of blood material, tissue, and bone will be utilized for testing.

Cadaver Detector Test – Vehicles
Five vehicles free from any target odors of narcotics or explosives will be utilized for testing

One hide will be placed on the interior or exterior of a vehicle per the Master Trainers’ discretion 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the test.

      • The team will search all five vehicles.
      • The team must locate the vehicle containing the cadaver hide.

Buildings

      • Two hides will be placed in a building.
        • One must be higher than four feet.
      • There must be at least two (2) negative rooms.
      • The team will search at least four (4) rooms but no more than six (6) rooms.
      • The team must locate all of the hides

Buried Land Search

      • One hide will be buried a depth of 6-12″ in debris, loose vegetation, or loose soil four hours prior to the beginning of the test.
      • There will be three search areas: 50 yards by 50 yards.
      • Animal remains may be used as a distracter in one area.
        • One area must be a blank/negative.
        • A false alert on the animal remains constitutes a failure.
        • A false alert in the negative area constitutes a failure.
      • The team must locate the buried hide

Master Trainers’ Choice: Rubble, Disarticulated Remains, or Water

      • The Master Trainer will choose the venue for this test.
      • Rubble will consist of manmade debris.
      • Two hides will be placed in the rubble pile.
      • The team must locate the two hides.
      • Dry bone will not be used on the rubble pile.
      • Disarticulated remains will consist of multiple hides of bone placed in an area of 150 feet by 150 feet.
      • These bones will not be visible to the handler.
      • The team must locate the bone field.
      • Water search will consist of a lake area no smaller than 300 yards by 300 yards.
      • There will be one hide supplied via a scent generator machine.
      • Bubbles from the scent generator will be minimized so as not to be visible to the handler.
      • The dog and handler must locate the surface scent within 20 feet (taking into account wind and current)
      • Under no circumstances will cadaver material be placed directly into a water source

General Guidelines:

        • Cadaver amounts to be used in the test will be determined by the certifying Master Trainer. A minimum of 1.5cc liquid or 15 grams solid weight must be utilized.
        • The cadaver detector certification test will be conducted on a pass/fail basis.
        • Cadaver hides in the vehicle phase may be either on the interior or exterior of the vehicles per Master Trainers’ discretion.
        • Time limits during each search phase are per discretion of the certifying Master Trainer and so long as the Master Trainer determines that the team is working.
        • The Certifying Master Trainer(s) conducting the test will be responsible for ensuring all test phase areas are safe for the certifying team(s).
          Certifying Master Trainer(s) will take every precaution in securing and concealing cadaver hides in an effort to prevent accidental exposure and ingestion of cadaver materials used for testing purposes.
        • Searches may be conducted on and/or off lead at the handlers’ discretion.
        • Searches may be conducted by “free search” and/or “detailed search” at the handlers’ discretion.
          • The dogs reward toy or object used during the cadaver detector certification test will not contain any cadaver odor/residue.
        • The test will be conducted on a pass/fail basis. The Master Trainer determines if the team will be certified upon completion of the test. If certified, the handler and dog are considered a team and it is the team that is certified. In the event the dog changes handlers, the previous certification is invalid and the new team will have to be tested in order to be certified.

This certification will be valid for one (1) year from the date of issue, providing the member remains in good standing and his/her membership dues are current.

 

Accelerant Detection Certification Test

This test is to determine the proficiency and reliability of canines trained in the detection of accelerant odors. This test will be conducted by an accredited Master Trainer in Accelerant Detection.

The regular member being tested in the accelerant detection certification test must be an active firefighter that is the canine handler or trainer with their fire department and is assigned arson investigation duties through the use of a trained accelerant K-9 for that department.

Certification testing will utilize a minimum of nine (9) different accelerant odors made up of three (3) odors from each grade classification of heavy, medium and light hydrocarbons. The odors that may be used to test each grade classification are as follows:

Heavy:

      • #2 Fuel Oil
      • Diesel Fuel
      • Gum Turpentine
      • Lamp Oil
      • Transmission Fluid
      • Jet-A-Fuel

Medium:

      • Paint & Varnish Remover
      • Lacquer Thinner
      • Kerosene
      • Gasoline
      • Gasohol
      • Octane

Light:

      • Charcoal Lighter Fluid
      • Paint Thinner
      • Naphtha
      • Dry Gas
      • Acetone
      • Coleman Fuel

It shall be the responsibility of the agencies / K-9 teams being tested to provide samples of all accelerant odors for the accelerant detection certification test. Accelerant odors being tested shall consist of a maximum amount of (1/4) cup and the minimum amount shall be one (1) drop from a hypodermic syringe and needle.

Teams will be tested in a minimum of four (4) test phase areas which are as follows:

    • Structure / Fire Scene
    • Open Areas
    • Paint Can Line Up
    • Clothing Line Up
    • Vehicle Interior

Note: Test areas will be selected by the certifying Master Trainer based on availability.

Each area tested will contain a minimum of three (3) and a maximum of four (4) accelerant odor testing standards with each being a different odor.

Note: There will be a mandatory break between each testing phase area.

 

TESTING REQUIREMENTS

All accelerant odor testing standards will have a minimum set time of twenty (20) minutes prior to testing. All accelerant standards placement locations will be unknown by the team being tested.

The term definition of “testing standard” shall mean an accelerant odor substance.

No smoking will be allowed in any testing areas.

Only a A.P.C.A. Master Trainer accredited in Accelerant Detection may conduct certification testing of an accelerant detection team. All decisions by the certifying Master Trainer are final.

Teams will not be allowed to miss any certification testing standards during the test.

Only one (1) false / negative alert by the team during the test will be allowed to pass the accelerant certification test. A team negative alert is defined as any incorrect response by the handler or the canine.

If a team fails in one of the testing search areas, the Master Trainer has the discretion to either retest only the area missed or the entire testing process at a later time designated by the Master Trainer.

Only one (1) retest attempt may be done on the same day as any failure.

Testing can be done over a two (2) day period or more. However the final decision shall rest with the Master Trainer.

Prior to the first team entering the test area a person and canine will be walked through the testing area. Each handler shall brief the Master Trainer as to the dogs alert and response to testing standards and each indication to a testing standard should be obvious to the Master Trainer.

Prior to each testing phase the Master Trainer shall explain each problem that will be encountered by the handler such as boundaries, starting point etc…..

There is no time limit for a team to complete each phase of testing; however, the Master Trainer may stop the test once it has been made evident that the team cannot locate the testing standards.

 

Certification Testing Phase Areas

Structure / Fire Scene

The structure / fire scene search shall consist of either an intact structure or the site of a structure fire. If a structure fire is selected, the fire must have occurred not less than 8 hours nor more than three months prior to the test being conducted. The size of the area used for testing shall be not less than 1600 square feet or more than 2400 square feet. The dog will be searched through the area prior to testing standards being placed to ensure that no accelerant odors are present in the search area. The testing standards may be placed anywhere from a height of four (4) feet to a depth of three (3) inches under debris or ash.

Open Areas:

Open area shall be defined as: 1) Building exteriors 2) Open fields 3) Wooded area 4) Any outside area not covered in the above. The area size is to be no larger than 100 yards by 100 yards and no smaller that 50 yards by 50 yards or any configuration thereof. Test standards used in this search shall consist of a minimum of (1/4) cup of accelerant poured on the ground or a container concealed in the area containing at least 1/8 cup of accelerant.

Paint Can Line Up:

It shall be the responsibility of the agencies / K9 Teams being tested to provide the correct number of properly prepared paint cans for this test. A minimum of six (6) and a maximum of ten (10) unused one gallon paint cans, each containing burned wood, paper and plastic material are placed in a line a minimum of three (3) feet apart. No accelerant material is used to prepare the ash samples. If the dog to be tested indicates aggressively (scratching & biting) lids are placed on the paint cans with a minimum of eight (8) 1/16 inch diameter holes in each lid.

Clothing Line Up:

A minimum of six (6) and a maximum of ten (10) piles of recently worn clothes are placed in a line a minimum of three (3) feet apart.

Vehicle Interior:

A minimum of six (6) and a maximum of ten (10) vehicles of any type or model are parked in a line (such as a parking lot) so as to allow the team to have access to each vehicle. All testing standards will be placed in the interior (passenger compartment) of the vehicles and the teams will confine the search to the vehicle interiors only.

The test will be conducted on a Pass / Fail basis. The Master Trainer determines if the team will be certified upon the completion of the test. If certified, the handler and the dog are considered a team and it is the team that is certified. In the event that the dog changes handlers, a new team will then exist, which will immediately invalidate the previous certification. The new team will then need to be certified.

This certification will be valid for one (1) year from the date of issuance, providing the member remains in good standing and his/her membership dues are current.