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TRI-STATE-K9 STANDARDS

Basic Handler Skills (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
MINIMUM HANDLER SKILLS:
  1. The handler must complete Handler's Skills check-off list prior to testing a dog for operational statusl
  2. A novice handler must respond to at least one actual search incident as dog team support prior to becoming an operational search dog handler.
LOCAL RESPONSIBILITIES: Tri-State-K9 defers to the member group/unit to define essential, basic handler skills such as navigation, communication, medical etc. Further, Tri-State-K9 expects the group's training/testing officer to validate the candidates prior to declaring them operational search dog handlers.
Basic Dog Skills (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
DOG SKILLS GENERAL:
  1. ADJACENT AREA SEARCHING: The dog must be able to work effectively along side other dog teams without undue distraction.
  2. ENDURANCE: The dog must be able to work a prologned search while mantaining good performance. 
  3. NIGHT WORK: The dog team must show the ability to work without daylight.
  4. WILDERNESS REFIND ALERT: The free-ranging dog must either return to the handler upon making a find with a readable alert behaviour and take the handler back to the subject, or the dog must stay and bark. The handler must be able to interpret either alert correctly.
  5. ALERT: For disciplines other than wilderness search, other types of alerts are acceptable: I.e., barking, down, sit or dig. The handler must state alert behavior prior to testing and must be able to interpret the alert during the test.
  6. AGE: The dog must be at least 12 months of age to become operational.
  7. TEMPERAMENT: the dog must be able to operate effectively and non-aggressively in all working situations.
  8. VACCINATIONS: All dogs must have proof of required vaccinations.
  9. AGILITY: The handler must demonstrate off lead, the ability to safely and confidently control the dog through the following skills:
    1. Jump at least three feet into a specified area.
    2. Crawl under an obstacle 3/4 of the dog's hight.
    3. Climb onto and walk along a log or obstacle 3-4 feet off the ground and 10 feet in length.
    4. Not jump off area/object until commanded to do so.
    5. Walk through a culvert or small tunnel.
  10. OBEDIENCE:
    1. The handler must have off-lead control of the dog at all times.
    2. Dogs will not be allowed to approach other dogs while training/searching.
    3. Dogs must be responsive to handler commands.
    4. Dogs must demonstrate the following skills:
      1. COME: Dog must come directly without hesitation.
      2. STOP ON RECALL (dog will go towards handler and when given a command, stop, down or sit within a very short distance for safety reasons).
      3. SIT - DOWN - STAY: 5 Minutes with handler out of sight.
      4. HEEL or CLOSE: Dog must remain within 2 feet of the handler.
Operational Evaluation (Last updated: 8/20/2011 by Beat Marti)

OPERATIONAL EVALUATION:

A Tri-State-K9 Team is declared OPERATIONAL if:

  1. The handler has sucessfully demonstrated proficency in the "Basic Handler Skills"
  2. The K-9 has successfully satisified the "Basic Dog Skills" requirements
  3. The Team has successfully certified in a search discipline
  4. To remain operational, a Team must re-certify each discipline every two (2) years. Every effort should be made to complete the re-certification prior to the expiration date. A 3 month grace period extension may be granted at the discretion of the search command.

Evaluation Process:

If at all possible, an evaluation test is administered by two Tri-State-K9 recognized testers: A PRIMARY Tester and a CO-TESTER. For an evaluation to be recognized, at least ONE Primary Tester must have been part of the evaluation. In case of an evaluation result dispute between testers, the Primary Tester may sway the final decision. However, the preferred course of action is to declare the test inconclusive and repeat it.

Evaluator Requirements:

  1. PRIMARY TESTER: Must have successfully RE-CERTIFIED at least once in the respective discipline and has CO-TESTED at least 3 times in that discipline.
  2. CO-TESTER: Must have successfully CERTIFIED in the respective discipline.

 

Area Search Test (Last updated: 1/11/2013 by Janet Wilts)
Prerequisite: Mini-Area Search Test
Test Objectives:
Develop and execute an effective search strategy resulting in finding all subjects within the test time limit. Demonstrate the team’s ability to continue searching effectively for the minimum duration including the dog performing acceptably by executing the stated alert behavior after the minimum duration.

Test Setup:
The area will be 120 acres of moderate terrain. A minimum of (1) subject will be (hidden or roaming) in that area in a manner that makes it difficult for the team to make the find(s) in less than 3 hours. Additional subjects may be added as needed to the test to ensure the minimum search time.

Evaluation Criteria:
All subjects (number is known to handler) have to be found within a maximum of 4 hours. Time may be extended by the testers to allow for unusual weather and terrain conditions.

The handler will complete an interview with the RP (reporting person) at the search base. The handler must develop a search strategy and verbalize it to the evaluators prior to the test. The handler states the dog’s trained indication on a live find. The handler is expected to evaluate the search strategy, verbalizing and making adjustments during the test, allowing for changes in wind, weather, terrain and obstacles. The handler will communicate with the (simulated) search base via radio and relay all pertinent information including dog interests, clues, finds and subject status (there may be simulated injuries when subjects are located).

When prompted, the handler must be able to show on a topographical map the team’s current location, which areas have been searched including location of interests, clues and finds. The handler will give a POD of the areas searched. 

Passing the operational wilderness search test is based on evaluating the overall performance of the team, taking all factors into consideration. If a dog locates a subject, and does not successfully alert the handler, the evaluators will terminate the test.
ReCertification: Mini-Area Search Test
Mini-Area Search Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: None
The mini-area is approximately 1/4 by 1/4 mile, set in moderate terrain and containing 3 well-hidden subjects. The search time is limited to 2 hours unless testers extend the time, due to weather or terrain concerns. The dog team must find all three subjects. If less than two re-finds or bark alerts are demonstrated, the test is inconclusive and must be repeated. The purpose of this test is to show the reliability of the dog's wilderness search training, in particular the dog's wilderness alert (re-find and/or bark alert) and the strategy skills of the handler. Upon successful completion, the handler may request the Wilderness Search test. The Wilderness Search test must be completed within six months of the Mini-Area test.
ReCertification:
Trailing Level 1 Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: None
The trail must be at least one mile long and aged not less than 4 hours. The handler is responsible for collecting the scent article. The handler will be given a designated PLS, with area approximately 20 X 20 feet. The PLS will be contaminated by one person walking away from the PLS at the same time as the subject. The (false) trail must be at least ¼ mile in length and diverge significantly from the real trail. The subjects trail will be laid in moderate terrain and all attempts will be made so that the dog cannot air scent. The start of the trail should have a 360-degree possibility of direction. A cross trail will be laid within one hour prior to the test after the first third of the actual subject's trail. There should be a road crossing, either paved or dirt, in any part of the trail. The dog must obtain direction of travel and locate subject for successful completion. It is an acceptable pass if wind change allows the dog to air scent after it has located the direction of travel, has successfully worked through the contamination, and successfully passed the cross trail.
ReCertification: Trailing Level 1 Test
Trailing Level 2 Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: Trailing Level 1 Test
The trail must be at least one mile long and aged not less than 12 hours. The handler is responsible for collecting the scent article. The handler will be given a designated PLS, with area approximately 100 X 100 feet. The PLS will be contaminated by one person walking away from the PLS at the same time as the subject. The (false) trail must be at least ¼ mile in length and diverge significantly from the real trail. The subject's trail will be laid in moderate terrain and all attempts will be made so that the dog cannot air scent. The start of the trail should have a 360-degree possibility of direction. A cross trail will be laid within two hours prior to the test after the first third of the actual subject's trail. There should be a road crossing, either paved or dirt, in any part of the trail. The dog must obtain direction of travel and locate subject for successful completion. It is an acceptable pass if wind change allows the dog to air scent after it has located the direction of travel, has successfully worked through the contamination, and successfully passed the cross trail.
ReCertification: Trailing Level 2 Test
Trailing Level 3 Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: Trailing Level 2 Test
The trail must be at least one mile long and aged not less than 24 hours. The handler is responsible for collecting the scent article. The handler will be given a designated PLS, with area approximately 100 X 100 feet. The PLS will be contaminated by one person walking away from the PLS at the same time as the subject. The (false) trail must be at least a ¼ mile in length and diverge significantly from the real trail. The subjec's trail will be laid in moderate terrain and all attempts will be made so that the dog cannot air scent. The start of the trail should have a 360-degree possibility of direction. A cross trail will be laid within two hours prior to the test after the first third of the actual subject's trail. There should be a road crossing, either paved or dirt, in any part of the trail. The dog must obtain direction of travel and locate subject for successful completion. It is an acceptable pass if wind change allows the dog to air scent after it has located the direction of travel, has successfully worked through the contamination, and successfully passed the cross trail.
ReCertification: Trailing Level 3 Test
Urban Trailing Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: None
No prior wilderness trailing certification is required. The handler will conduct an interview with RP. The handler is responsible for collecting the scent article. The handler will be given the PLS of either a residence or vehicle. The area will be contaminated. The trail will be aged not less than 2 hours and will be 6 to 8 blocks (about 1 mile) in length. The trail will include asphalt, concrete, sidewalks, alleys, grass, etc. There will be at least two street crossings. No day-to-day activities in the area will cause delay or cancellation of the test. Time limit is 1 hour but may be extended by the evaluators if they deem that there continues to be forward progress. The dog must locate and identify the correct subject for completion of test.
ReCertification: Urban Trailing Test
Cadaver Level 1 Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: None
Dog team will search an area 100 X 100 yards, or equivalent square footage, in moderate terrain. Area will contain two sources. No pseudo scent will be used. The sources will consist of, blood, fat or organs.  The volume of scent will simulate as closely as possible a deceased body. The evaluators will verify the area with a certified dog prior to the test. One sample will be on the surface or hanging. The second sample will be buried 2-4 inches deep. The scent rise time will be no less than 1 hour. The handler must call a find by recognizing the dogs indication behavior as stated prior to the test. False holes will be present. The team must be able to locate both samples with no false alerts within 1 hour.

ReCertification: Cadaver Level 1 Test
Cadaver Level 2 Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: Cadaver Level 1 Test
This test consists of searching two areas (part 1) and identifying human bones (part 2). Both tests must be completed within 30 days.

Area Test:
Two moderate terrain areas, each approximately 100 by 100 yards in size are setup to minimize the possible influence of scent from one to the other. A minimum of two sources are placed among the areas (one area may be empty). The sources will contain tissue, blood, fat, organ. No pseudo scent will be used. The sources may be in one or both areas. The samples used will simulate, as closely as possible, a deceased body. The sources must be concealed so that the handler is unable to see them. Samples may be placed on the surface, buried 4-6 inches, or hanging. Scent rise time will be no less than 1 hour. The evaluators will verify the areas with a certified dog prior to the test.

The handler must verbalize the search strategy and the dog's indication prior to the test. The number of sources is unknown to the handler. The team must complete the search of an area within 30 minutes. Once an area is completed, it may not be re-visited. The team must find all sources with no false alerts.

Bones test:
Using an area of about 20 by 20 feet that contains naturally occurring animal bones, one or more human bones will be scattered making sure that they are at a minimum 2 feet from an animal bone. The animal bones may not be moved or touched by humans when setting up the test.

The dog must be able to identify all human bones and must ignore all animal bones. The handler must be able to determine based on the dog's indication, which bones are human. 
ReCertification: Cadaver Level 2 Test
Human Remains Detection Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: None
There are two parts to this test: Part 1 includes searching three areas and part 2 includes searching a room in a building.

Area search:
Three moderate terrain areas of approximately 75 by 75 feet will be setup to minimize the possible influence of scent from one area to another. An unknown number, but at a minimum 10 sources will be placed among the three areas. One area may be left empty. Blood and bone will be used for 80% of the sources. No pseudo scent will be used. Sources will be concealed but not buried. The scent rise time will be no less than 30 minutes.

The team will search each area separately given 30 minutes to complete each area to a 70% POD (70% of all samples placed must be found). The team may not returned to a previously completed area. If, while searching one area, the dog finds a source in an other area, it is counted, but the handler must complete the current area first. The handler must call a find by recognizing the dogs indication behavior as stated prior to the test with no more than one false alert. The dog is not allowed to disturb the sources. If the dog is in scent and indicates at a distance from the source, the evaluators may ask the handler to have the dog pin point the source.

Building search:
The test is setup using a room no larger than 20 by 20 feet. A minimum of three samples are well concealed in the room. The samples may be at the floor level or raised but no more than 3 feet high. The samples will be blood and/or tissue. The scent rise time will be no less than 30 minutes.

The handler will be given 30 minutes to search the area to a 70% POD (70% of all samples placed must be found). Dog must not disturb the samples. The handler must call a find by recognizing the dogs indication behavior as stated prior to the test. Both tests must be completed within 1 month.
ReCertification: Human Remains Detection Test
Evidence Search Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: None
The test is setup using an area of 200 by 200 feet in moderate terrain. A minimum of 3 human scented articles will be well concealed on the surface or hanging, but not buried. A variety of articles will be used, including but not limited to: metal, plastic, and cloth. The person who is setting the test, can not use his/her own scent articles. The scent rise time will be no less than 30 minutes.

The handler has to search the area within 1 hour to an 80% POD ( 80% of an unknown number of articles must be found). The handler must state the dog's alert prior to the test and must call a find based on the stated alert. The handler must state procedures for crime scene preservation.
ReCertification: Evidence Search Test
On Shore Water Search Test (Last updated: 4/1/2017 by Kris Brock)
Prerequisite: Cadaver Level 1 Test
This test requires a prior certification of Level 1 Cadaver.

A shore line approximately 200 yards in length will contain one source within 5 - 10 feet of the shore between 2 - 10 inches under water. The scent rise time will be no less than 15 minutes.

The team will state the search strategy and the dog's alert. The dog may indicate from the shore or in the water as long as the handler can describe the location of the scent source within 15 yards.
ReCertification: On Shore Water Search Test
Open Water Search Test (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: None
The test is setup in an open water area of 2-4 acres in size. One cadaver scent source will be used and placed about 15 feet under the water surface. Scent rise time will be no less than 15 minutes.

The team will be tested on the strategy used to search the area, how efficiently the dog handler communicates to the boat operator, and how efficiently the handler can read the dog alerts at the subjects location. The handler must be able to define a search area for the divers. This area must be within 100 feet of scent source. Handler will plot location on map and explain what effects the wind and current may have on the scent.
ReCertification: Open Water Search Test
Avalanche Search Test (Last updated: 12/24/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: None
The test may be administered with either real live subject burials and articles or articles only. The Dog team is expected to search a simulated avalanche debris field of a minimum of 75 by 75 yards (225 by 225 feet) and find all sources within 1/2 hour. Prior to the test the handler will be informed about the avalanche boundaries and incident scenario. The handler is expected to obtain all other pertinent information by conducting an interview with the RP. Testing time can be adjusted at the discretion of the evaluator(s) to compensate for difficulty of terrain and/or weather conditions.

Selection and preparation of the simulated avalanche area:
The area must have adequate snow in moderate terrain. It must be disturbed and tracked up to simulate a real avalanche site as closely as possible. There will be false holes. Clues may be placed in the area consistent with the incident scenario. People are placed in the test area such that they do not clue the dog and handler. Distractions will be in and/or around the search area.

Selection and preparation of sources:
Three (3) sources: A minimum of one (1) deep burial (articles) and either real live subjects or simulated live (large articles) burials may be used. The minimum scent rise time for real live subjects is 15 minutes and for all other sources 1 hour.

Real Live burial:
The subject(s) must be fully buried at a depth of 3-5 feet. Subject(s) must enter the burial site in a manner that makes it difficult for a dog to track to the cave. The following safety rules apply to live burials:
  1. Subject must have a working transceiver and radio and both must be in a position to be easily activated. 
  2. Subject location must be known to and watched by an observer with a radio, transceiver, probe and shovel. the observer is placed not to clue the handler and dog.
Simulated live burial (large articles):
Use wool or heavy fleece material articles (not cotton) with a surface area simulating that of a real person (about 2 feet by 5 feet in size).

Simulated deep burial:
Use wool or heavy fleece material articles (not cotton) with a surface area minimum 30 by 30 inches. If possible, simulated deep should be buried overnight.

Article selection and preparation and burial:
Use shirts, sweaters, pants or blankets, scented by someone other than the people setting up the test, evaluator(s) or the handler). Articles should be scented by either wearing them or sleeping with them, if possible for a period of 24 hrs or more. To bury the articles, dig a hole 18 to 36 inches deep, large enough to receive the articles opened to full size, place blocks of snow on the article and then throw snow over the blocks to finish the cover.
ReCertification: Avalanche Search Test
Building Search (Last updated: 10/12/2010 by Beat Marti)
Prerequisite: None
One to three victims will hide in a large building at least 15 minutes prior to the test. All victims must be found within the designated time limit. The handler will state the search strategy and the dogs alert on a find. 

** Due to the complexity of building searches, specifics will be discussed before the test.
ReCertification: Building Search