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Standards and Guidelines - Forensic Science Communications - October 2008

Standards and Guidelines - Forensic Science Communications - October 2008


Appendix 2

Canine—Initial Screening Process

These preliminary tests will determine the need for conducting the entire temperament test.

Evaluate on a scale of 1–3 with 1 = Fail, 2 = Average, and 3 = Excellent.

All candidates must possess the following criteria:

  • High food drive.
  • Sociability.
  • Ability to train.
  • Physical soundness.

High Food Drive

Goal—Because their reward (motivation) is food, this must be their priority in life. Use a variety of treats.

1. Feed canine treats.

Fail—Spits it out; not interested.
Fail—Spits it out; not interested.
Excellent—Inhales it; anticipates next.

2. Show dog treats and place the treats up high, low, and under something.

Fail—Does not participate.
Average—Performs with encouragement.
Excellent—Performs on own; jumps, digs for treats.

3. As you are feeding treats to the canine, have a stranger distract the dog. DO NOT USE DOG’S NAME.

Fail—Chooses people over food.
Average—Vacillates (hesitates) between people and food.
Excellent—Chooses food over people.


Goal—These dogs will be used at airports and border crossings. They must be comfortable around all ages, races, genders, as well as persons with disabilities.

1. Initial greeting

Fail—Canine does not approach; displays submissive wetting.
Pass—Loves all people.

2. Environment (people, vehicles, and noises)

Fail—Afraid; will not immediately recover.
Average—Rarely startles, but recovers immediately.
Excellent—Stable, comfortable in any situation.

3. Stranger test—Have stranger act in an unusual manner. Have the dog attached to a fence in an unfamiliar setting with a 4- to 6-foot leash. The stranger will make eye contact with dog from 20 to 30 feet away; when dog makes eye contact, the stranger should begin acting in an unusual manner, i.e., making loud noises, waving arms, moving from side to side, and advancing toward the dog but always maintaining at least a 10-foot distance from the dog. Then the stranger should become friendly with the dog.

Fail—Canine retreats and/or shows any aggression toward the stranger.
Average—Canine startles, backs up a few steps, but when the person acts friendly, the dog immediately wants to greet the stranger.
Excellent—Canine maintains friendly posture and does not startle.

Ability to Train

Goal—the canine must be able to comprehend and complete repetitive tasks.

1. Negative conditioning—Bring hand back and make quick hand motion toward the dog’s face.

Fail—Cowers and goes to ground and/or displays submissive wetting.
Average—Blinks and/or squints; however, maintains friendly posture.
Excellent—Shows no signs of abuse and does not blink or squint.

2. Aptitude for scent work—This should be done in an enclosed yard off-leash but may be done on-leash. NOTE: Make sure the dog is relieved prior to testing. Show dog treats; put treat on ground and tell the dog to “Find it.” Do three repetitions of command. Then cover the dog’s eyes and throw 10 treats into the wind in random fashion in high grass; release the dog and observe tracking techniques.

Fail—Could not and did not locate treats. The dog is more interested in other things.
Average—Located some treats in 2 to 3 minutes.
Excellent—Located most or all treats in 1 minute or less.

Physical Soundness

Goal—The canines must be able to endure several years of detection work. They need to be agile enough to perform while on conveyor belts, on their hind legs, and while climbing and navigating over such obstacles as luggage, boxes, and car seats.

Examine Appearance

1. Look for overall symmetry. Stand 5 feet away from dog and look at the dog from side to side and front and rear, and ask yourself these questions: Is the dog well balanced? Does the front of the dog look in proportion to the rear of the dog?

2. Examine nails. Are some different lengths than others? Which ones?

3. Examine teeth. This will tell the approximate age of the dog. NOTE: If there is dental tartar halfway down on teeth or on rear molars, chances are the dog is more than 3 years old. When in doubt, have a veterinarian verify age.

4. Look into eyes. Check for excessive tearing, tumors, cataracts, entropion (lids curving inward), and ectropion (droopy lids).

5. Have the dog move away and toward you. Does the dog limp or have a strange gait? Does the dog skip with rear?

* If you answered yes to any of the above questions, please consult the National Detector Dog Training Center (NDDTC) *

Temperament Evaluation Worksheet

Evaluator’s Name: Evaluation Date:
Canine’s Name: Evaluation Location:
Alias: Age Appropriate:
Weight: Overweight Ideal Thin Sex: Altered: Yes or No