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Basic Training Course

        Day 1:  Basic Training Course (Theory)

Domestic and International Rescue Services

NRO:  The organization, its attitudes and responsibilities

ID-Trailing/Tracking:  Theory and Demonstration

Area-Search from a Baseline:  Theory and Demonstration

Area-Search in a Mission:  Theory and Demonstration

Road-Search:  Theory and Demonstration

Directional Sending:  Theory and Demonstration

Retrieving:  Theory and Demonstration

Indication Training (i.e., barking, bringsel etc.):  Theory and Demonstration

Socializing the Dogs:  Theory and Demonstration

        Days 2 – 4:  Basic Training Course (Field Work)

Practical training of the students and their canines, in tracking/trailing, area-search, directional sending and retrieving.

Entrance Test

The canine team must pass the Entrance Test within three (3) months following the date that the canine team completed the Basic Training Course.  If the canine was less than one (1) year of age at the time the canine team completed the Basic Training Course, then the canine team must pass the Entrance test before the canine turns one (1) year of age.


          Recall of Canine

When the canine is about twenty (20) meters away from the handler and is distracted by the evaluator or by some other thing in the area, the handler will recall the canine when signaled to do so by the evaluator.  The canine must immediately return to the handler upon command. Only one second command will be allowed.

        Down-Stay for two (2) minutes

Only one (1) canine will be tested at a time in a distraction free area. The canine may lie down or sit.  At the evaluator’s signal, the handler will walk ten (10) meters away from the canine but will remain at all times in sight of the canine. The canine may shift position, but must not move more than its own body-length from its original position. Only one command is allowed.

          Retrieve of an Article (i.e., The Training Reel)

A helper will play with the canine with an article as the canine is on a leash held by the handler.  The helper will show the article to the canine and then run twenty (20) meters away and sit down in full sight of the canine. The helper will hold the article approximately five (5) centimeters above the ground.  The handler will release the canine and the canine must willingly run out, retrieve the article, return and give the article to the handler.  The helper remains totally passive throughout the canine’s retrieve.   To pass this requirement, the canine must return directly to the handler and deliver the article into the handler’s hand without dropping the article on the ground.

          Socializing Test

All the handlers will stand in a single row about two (2) meters away from each other.  The canines will be on leash sitting beside the handlers.  The handler at the end of the row will start to walk along the row, shaking hands with each of the other handlers. Once the first handler reaches the end of the row and re-enters the row, the next handler will start to walk along the row, shaking hands with each of the other handlers.  This will be repeated until each handler and canine have walked along the row.  In this situation, the canines and handlers will be standing close and face-to-face for short periods of time. The intention of this test is to reveal aggression towards other canines.  The canine must not show any sign of aggression to pass this requirement.


If the team fails the Entrance Test, the Test can be repeated within the period of three (3) months.  However, there must be at least two (2) weeks between each attempt to pass the Test.  Additionally, all components of the Test must be passed during the Re-Test.

Life-Saving First Aid Course (with Theoretical and Practical Exam)

All handlers must attend a 24-hour course given by a paramedic instructor. The handlers must pass both a theoretical (written) and a practical test. The Practical Test is set up so the handlers have to search with their canines, find the missing person and then treat the person correctly according to the parameters given.


Advanced Training Course

          Day 1:  Orienteering

Use of map and compass:  Theory

Radio-communication procedures: Theory

Use of GPS:  Theory

          Day 2:  Orienteering

Use of map and compass:  Theory

Radio-communication procedures: Theory

Practical Test:

The teams are sent out one at the time from the base-camp at half hour intervals to work a ten (10) to fifteen (15) kilometer route. First and second teams are sent out in opposite directions as are the remaining teams.  The route will contain eight (8) hidden waypoints where coded notes will be found. The maps in use during the test are M711-maps 1:50 000 topo.  The use of GPS during this test is not allowed. The teams must follow correct procedures for communication by radio.  During the test, incident command will ask each team to give information about their respective positions. To pass this requirement, all eight (8) waypoints must be found and all codes must be correct.

                    Theoretical Test:

The written test contains twenty (20) questions. All of the questions have a value. To pass the test, the handler must answer the first six (6) questions correctly. The values of the remaining fourteen (14) questions will vary.  There will be a total of 52 possible points and each handler must obtain at least 30 points in order to pass.


If the team fails either the Theoretical or Practical Test, but not both, the team only needs to repeat the Test they failed.

          Day 3:  Wind Movement and Search Techniques

Techniques used in area-search:  Theory

Movements of the wind (the information carrier):  Theory

Area-search and road-search:  Practical Search


B-Certification(The lowest certification level)

Prerequisites:  To take the test for B-certification, the basic training course and the entrance test must be passed.

        ID-Trail/Track (at least two (2) hours old and one (1) kilometer long)


Before beginning the Trail, the handler will be given the coordinates to the location of the object containing the scent-article. The handler may use a map and compass or a GPS, or both.

               Search for the correct trail/track:

The trail starts from an object like a car or another vehicle that is placed in a parking lot or on the roadside. The tracklayer leaves a scent article at the location of the object. If there is no natural traffic of people around the object, an area with ten (10) to twenty (20) meter radius around the object should be walked by the evaluator before the search for the trail starts. Only the search for the trail is evaluated, the evaluator does not follow the whole trail. The handler must inform the evaluator when he finds the correct trail, either directly or by radio. If the handler does not inform the evaluator about the find of the trail within a radius of seventy (70) meters from the starting-object, the search is stopped and the test aborted.


The test is not to be held in an area with a lot of traffic (i.e., parks, public gardens and other heavily used open areas).  The start of the trail may be on asphalt or gravel, but the majority of the trail should be in the woods or in an area with ground-vegetation. The trail must contain one (1) ninety (90) degree angle.  The trail-layer should walk in a natural manner for the remainder of the trail. The beginning and the end of the trail must be more than 300 meters apart. The trail-layer must cross or follow a road of asphalt or gravel once. There should be a maximum of thirty (30) meters from the point the trail-layer enters the road to the point where the trail-layer leaves the road.

The trail must be at least two (2) hours old and one (1) kilometer in length. Two (2) articles with the scent of the trail-layer will be dropped in the trail (i.e., a glove or a cap). The evaluator must try to make the conditions as equal as possible for all of the teams, considering weather-conditions and time of day. The trail-layer at the end of the trail must be found within forty-five (45) minutes to pass the test. The search for the trail is included in this time.

Area-Search from a Baseline (going through the middle of the area)

An area 400 meters long and 120 meters wide (60 meters to each side of the baseline) is to be searched in maximum of forty (40) minutes.  The canine must do a systematic search about sixty (60) meters out to each side of the baseline. Three (3) subjects will be hidden in the area.  When the canine indicates a find, the handler must inform the evaluator as to the find before the handler is allowed to complete the refind.

The entire area must be searched and all three (3) subjects must be found within forty (40) minutes.  The handler is permitted to move forward, searching both sides of the baseline, but is not backwards. Returning to search an area that has already been searched is not allowed.

The canine must indicate on sitting, standing, laying and completely hidden subjects. If the subject is a child, the canine must indicate even if the child is walking. All forms of indications that involve a refind are allowed. The “bark and stay with the subject” indication is only allowed for canines in training for police or security or already certified as such. The form of indication must be described for the evaluator and must be easily recognized.

If the canine misses one of the three (3) subjects, it is possible that the canine team will still pass if the canine has demonstrated a very thorough and systematic search and if the evaluator determines that the reason the subject was missed was due to unfortunate wind-conditions at the moment.



Long Stay

The handler gives one command and leaves the canine. The canine may lie down or sit. The handler walks twenty (20) meters away from the canine, but remains in sight of the canine for the first five (5) minutes. During the next five (5) minutes, the handler goes out of sight of the canine, without any further command.

The canine is allowed to change position, but must not move more than his own length away from the original point. Each canine is tested separately with some moderate distractions, i.e.. another handler with his canine in leash passing at a distance of two (2) to three (3) meters. Only one command is allowed at the start of the test.


Directional Sending

In an area with light brush/tree cover interspersed with open areas, four (4) objects that are distinctively different from the surrounding area will be placed in a square twenty (20) meters apart. Another similar object will be placed in the middle of the square approximately twenty (20) meters from one of the corners of a baseline that will be marked. The nearest object will then be twenty (20) meters from the baseline and the furthest will be forty-eight (48) meters from the baseline. All of the objects must be visible from the baseline. The objects can be any item similar to pallets, blankets, carpet squares or cones. The handler will choose the objects that s/he wants to use. From the baseline, the handler will send the canine to five (5) objects in whatever order s/he chooses.  The canine must sit or down near each object.  During the test, the handler can move along the baseline or go further away, but not closer.

Repetitive commands are allowed but, if the evaluators determine that the commands are excessive, the canine team fails the test. Before the test, the handler is permitted to take the canine up to each object as this is not a search; it is simply a test for directional sending to visible objects. To pass the test, the handler must be able to direct the canine to all five (5) objects. It is preferred that the canine be directed in straight angles (i.e.,, in/out and right/left) which means that it is preferred that the canines are sent to the object in the middle from the corner objects, not diagonally to the next corner.


If the canine team fails one of the main tests in the B-Certification (i.e., either the “ID-Trailing/Tracking” or the “Area-Search from a Baseline”), then the team may retake the test which they failed within one year of passing the other test. Both tests must ultimately be passed to get a B-Certification.  If the canine team fails any of the Obedience-Tests, they may also be retested, but the entire Obedience-Test must be passed before the canine team may take the A-Certification Test.

A-Certification(The highest certification level)

Prerequisites:   To take the test for A-Certification, the team must have passed:

Basic Training Course

Entrance Test

First Aid: Theoretical and Practical Test


Advanced Training Course

Orienteering Test: Theoretical and Practical



Contrary to the “Area-Search from a Baseline,” there is no restriction as to how the handler moves in the area. The team must search an area of about 1/4 square kilometer (500 x 500 meters) containing two (2) subjects and one (1) large article, like a jacket or a rucksack. The article should be at a place where the scent conditions are good. The test takes place in a medium to dense forested area. If the vegetation is dense, the size of the area is reduced accordingly. Before the search starts, the handler is given three (3) coordinates with a ten (10) meter accuracy for three (3) of the corners of the area. The area is shaped like a parallelogram (i.e., opposite angles are equal). The handler must calculate the coordinates of the four (4) corners, and the result must be approved by the evaluator before starting the search. The use of GPS is allowed. The team must demonstrate that they can search continuously for a minimum of 2 hours.  Should both subjects and the article be found before two (2) hours, one (1) additional subject will be place in the search area. Based on the nature of the area, the evaluator will decide the maximum time for the search and will inform the handler of the time limit.  The maximum time limit is four (4) hours.

The evaluator and any possible observers with canines on a leash will be permitted to move freely in the search area during the test. The handler will be called on the radio several times and asked to give his/her coordinates. The handler must follow correct procedures for radio-communication.  Before the search starts, the handler must present a strategy for the search based on weather-conditions and the nature of the area. If the handler divides the area into sectors, the handler has to present a strategy for each sector. If this strategy is changed during the search, it must be based on changing conditions and the evaluator must be informed and approve the change. The handler will be asked to estimate the POD (probability of detection) after the completion of the search. The canine must indicate on subjects that are lying down, sitting or standing.  If the subject is a child, the canine must indicate even when the child is walking. All subjects and the article must be found within the set maximum time to pass the test. Allowed indications are the same as in “Area-Search from a Baseline”.


The team has to search a 1000 meter long and 30 meter wide area on one side of a road or path through wooden terrain, containing two (2) subjects and one (1) large article (i.e., a jacket or a rucksack). The search is to be conducted at a relatively high speed. The handler walks quickly on the road/path while the canine searches an area from zero (0) to thirty (30) meters at one side. The handler and the evaluator may use a bicycle or other vehicle during the test.  All subjects and the article must be found to pass the test. Allowed indications are the same as in “Area-Search from a Baseline”.

        Patrol-Search (with the canine in a 10 meter line)

Immediately after the last subject is found in the “Road-Search Test,” the search continues as a Patrol-Search for an additional 200 meters. The canine will now search on a ten (10) meter long line. One (1) subject will be placed along this distance and must be found and indicated correctly to pass the test. The width of the search-area is the same as for the Road-Search. The speed will be considerably lower since the handler will now be following the canine on foot. The handler will decide if s/he wants to move near the road/path or further out, depending on the wind-conditions. Based on the nature of the area, the evaluator will decide a maximum combined time for the Road-Search and the Patrol-Search and will inform the handler of the time. The purpose of this test is to ensure that the canine searches effectively even from a line when the team is searching close to a road with heavy traffic where it could be dangerous for the canine to search freely. Allowed indications are the same as in “Area-Search from a Baseline”.

        Indication of Children

This search will be two (2) to five (5) minutes in length, and the canine will be expected to find a walking child. The canine must demonstrate that it indicates a walking child. (Only 2 out of 10 canines do without special training). The definition of a child is “not sexually mature and from one (1) to nine (9) years of age).  The canine must indicate the child whether the child is lying, sitting, standing or walking. Allowed indications are the same as in “Area-Search from a Baseline”


The team has to search  200 meters of a shoreline. The handler will walk along the shore while the canine searches parallel to the water. The canine may move along the shoreline, wade or swim, or a combination of these behaviors.  A “doll” in full human size (i.e., an old Rescue Ann) with cadaver scent and a diver is hidden will be in the water.  The “doll” and the diver will be placed no more than ten (10) meters from the shoreline, but will be hidden behind vegetation or boulders in such a way that the handler cannot see them from the shoreline. The doll will be filled with water and will float deep. Only the face of the diver will be above water. Both the “doll” and the dive must be found and indicated upon to pass the test. Allowed indications are the same as in “Area-Search from a Baseline” but, in addition, the “bark and stay” is allowed in this test because it is a natural indication under these circumstances. Based on the nature of the shoreline, the evaluator will decide the maximum time for the test and will inform the handler of this.


If a team fails one or more of the tests, the handler can ask for a retest in the tests that they failed as long as the retest occurs within the same calendar year. All five (5) tests must be passed in the same year to achieve an A-Certification.


The A-Certification is valid for three (3) years from the end of the year the certification was given. Before that, the team must re-certify for a new three (3) year period by retaking the entire A-Certification Test.. To ensure the quality of the teams at all time, the handler may be asked to take a Re-Certification Test at any time if there is an indication of declining quality.

Only teams with A-Certification can participate in real missions. For a trainee to be allowed to participate as an Assistant Handler (without a canine). The trainee must have passed: (1) Basic Training Course; (2) Entrance Test; (3) Theoretical and Practical First-Aid Exam; and (4) Advanced Training Course with Theoretical and Practical Orienteering.

Last update January 21, 2008.