Narcotic Dog Certification Rules and Guidelines

Pacific Northwest Police Detection Dog Association


Certifying Officials

Certifying officials will be any member so designated by the Association Board of Directors. The Association board of directors may, upon their review and discretion of an applicant’s qualifications, appoint said applicant as a certifying official.

To qualify as a certifying official one should have:

  1. A) A minimum of ten years’ experience as a full time law enforcement officer and five years’ experience specifically as a narcotics detection canine trainer.


  1. B) A full time law enforcement officer who as a Narcotics Detection dog handler has completed a formalized course by a recognized narcotics detection dog trainer and has at least 2 years’ experience handling a narcotics detection dog and completed 200 hours as assistant in training, under the direction of a recognized narcotics detection dog trainer.


  1. C) Completed an 8 hour Association certifying official’s course.
  2. D) Supplied to the association board of Directors all relevant documents necessary to satisfy the minimum requirements of being an Association certifying official.

Controlled Substances

All controlled substances utilized during a certification shall have been tested by a local, state or federal laboratory for authenticity. Only actual narcotics (controlled substances) will be used during the certification process.

Controlled substances utilized will include:

 Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin and Methamphetamine.

Training aids from each category will be utilized during certification. Those agencies who wish to not certify on Marijuana detection will be allowed to do so.

Controlled substances used during certification shall be a minimum of 14 grams.

Each single blind search area will have Zero (O) to 2 training aids utilized during certification. These will be placed at the discretion of the certifying official. With one search area being blank. (ie. Blank meaning no training aids present in search area.)

All training aids shall be placed in the training areas no less than thirty minutes prior to canine team inspection.

A verification of odor will be conducted prior to application of the first canine team, by utilizing a K9 that will not be participating in the exercise.




(Single Blind exercises)

A single blind exercise is described as “ the Certifying Official knows what outcome is expected of the exercise and the K9 handler does not”.

To effectively evaluate the dog detection team the certification process will include the following areas;

  1. a)   Building

Should be of a size that is regularly encountered by canine teams. Individual room size can vary but should not exceed 1200 sq. ft. Three rooms will be utilized.

  1. b)   Vehicles

A minimum of three vehicles shall be used. Vehicle training aids will be hidden on the exterior of the vehicle at the discretion of the certifying official.

  1. c)   Packages and luggage

Six or more pieces will be utilized. The actual physical locations and environment will be at the sole discretion of the certifying official.

  1. d)   Distraction aids

Distraction aids can be utilized during the certification process but will not be placed in close proximity to actual controlled substance training aids.

  1. e)   Exterior searches (optional)

            To be determined by the Certifying Official.

Time of Search

Time of search for each area will not exceed 7 minutes.

( i.e. 3 vehicles 7 minutes total time .)

( luggage search 3 minutes total time )

( i.e. 3 rooms, 7 minutes each room )



( Double Blind exercises )

A double blind exercise is described as “that neither party, Certifying Official nor K9 handler, know what outcome is expected of the exercise.

 The utilization of a “Double Blind” exercise during the certification process will ensure the certification process is conducted in a fair, random and impartial manner, with as minimal external influence on the K9 team as is logistically possible.

The double blind search area will be decided by the Certifying Official as identified in the Certifying Officials outline.


It is the responsibility of each handler to have any questions clarified about the certification prior to deployment of the dog on the search exercise.

Any complaints about the certification process or conduct by a certifying official or Association member shall be set in writing and forwarded to the Association board of directors within ten days of the incident.

Certifying officials are not required to explain their evaluation and will not enter into a discussion with any persons disputing an evaluation process.


If certification is requested outside designated Association training, the requesting agency shall pay in advance and be responsible for all necessary incurred travel, meal, lodging or other related expenses for the certifying official.

Each canine detection team who successfully passes certification shall, within 7 days of certification, receive a Letter of Certification from the Association. The association will retain a copy of the Letter of Certification for each dog team.

Any person wishing to certify additional canines will be assessed a twenty five dollar fee per dog team.

Certification Records:

All records are the sole property of the Association and are nontransferable unless otherwise specified.


It is the responsibility of each handler to advise the certifying official present as to the type of alert/indication the canine exhibits. (Passive/Aggressive). The handler must verbally state “alert” to the certifying official and identify the location of the alert or the alert/indication will not be acknowledged.


No narcotic scented rewards will be allowed utilized during certification exercises.


All Regular or Associate member in good standing, who otherwise qualifies reference other rules and regulations contained within Association bylaw, shall be deemed qualified to attempt Association certification.

Passing Certification Standards:

In order for a detection team to complete certification the team must successfully complete the search for those substances for which the dog is trained, to include but not limited to; Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin and Methamphetamine.

The canine team shall locate / indicate on ALL of the hidden controlled substance training aids.

If during the certification a handler calls an “alert” by the canine where there are no training aids hidden this will be considered a “false response” or “nonproductive alert” by the detection team. Any “nonproductive alerts” called by the handler will result in certification failure.

Certification Failure:   Any detection team that fails to locate / indicate on one aid during the certification may be tested again the same day; IF in the opinion of the Certifying Official that the miss is entirely handler error and requires no additional training of the Canine.

A detection team which fails to qualify for certification may reschedule another certification at a later date.

All decisions by the certifying officials at the time of certification are final and do not carry an appeal process.




  • Every handler will be responsible for any damage inflicted by the detection team canine, to training area, persons or other canines.
  • Electric, Prong collars are not permitted.
  • Handlers who have completed certification shall refrain from any contact with handlers who are awaiting certification.
  • It is the responsibility of the Association certifying official to implement the certification in a fair and impartial manner.
  • Only actual controlled substances will be used during Association certification.
  • An Association certifying official will explain certification rules to all handlers prior to the certification. A copy of the rules will be given to any handler upon request.
  • There will be no training, play or practice with canines in or around any certifying areas.
  • All handlers should attempt to have their dogs refrain from urinating in the certifying areas.
  • If in the opinion of the certifying official, a handler uses extreme or abusive treatment of a canine, displays loss of temper or poor sportsmanship, the certifying official will immediately disqualify that detection team. There will be no appeal process.