The certification process happens as a team, dog and person. You can learn more about this at www.iaocpi.org. The requirements are quite stringent – typically to have a certification we endeavor to find a canine officer or ex military canine handler that will proctor the exam. There are a series of obstacles, one is general scent recognition the second is handler and k9 search pattern recognition, third would be how they work, and properly alert to the live insects. All this is placed upon video. A team is only allowed two false alerts, and through the whole test the team must find five live vials correctly. Each session takes 20 minutes. As a kicker, teams are allowed three bedbugs in the live vials. Distractions would include dead bed bugs, food, carpet beetles all in separate vials.
Leading up to the certification, when the handler and dog meet, they have to bond. The dog has to recognize the handler as dominant, and the source of reward, subsistence and praise. It takes weeks for them to get into a search pattern, know how to work together. A trainer can personally train every dog on scent, however, once the dog starts to get a reward from someone else, it will try to false alert in order to trick them. The dog will false alert. ***That is where time and training go hand in hand as a team***. You have got to be able to trust that the dog is going to lead you in the right direction.
As an example, one trainer worked with dog for 9 weeks before doing the first job. So trainer works for up to 3 months, and dog works up to 4 months to be trained on the scent.
Dana K9 presently trains and works three bed bug teams and one termite team.