United States Police Canine Association Certifications

Whether you are new to Law Enforcement Canine or looking for different choices, there are many options for certifications. This process usually follows two paths, a pass/fail or a measured response (score) during testing. The United States Police Canine Association understands that each handler and dog is at a different level of training and knowledge. The key to success is knowledge, feedback, and validation of training. We believe an individual measured response is a better gauge of the current level of proficiency. This test is an individual assessment that requires each team to attain specific competencies with feedback on what evaluators saw during the certification.

 The Courts have determined that certifications are necessary to assess the canine team's abilities in a specific discipline. Since 1971 the United States Police Association has provided annual canine team certifications. With these tests, we have been committed to maintaining the highest standard by reviewing all certification tests each year. This review looks at current Trends in proper canine techniques, deployments, and court-mandated charges.

This ensures our testing procedures follow currently accepted police canine practices. To test fairly, we sue several Law  Enforcement canine professionals as evaluators to observe and record. We realize there are varying levels of experience, so we use a numbering system to determine a passing score. When evaluators take points off an exercise, it gives handlers and idea where improvement is needed. The point system allows canine teams to see their progress each year, as they improve training and gain experience. Our purpose is to provide an unbiased opinion of the performance of the team. This gives the handler and trainer information to adjust instruction accordingly. It is better to find and fix training problems before deployment. 

Over the years, we have had many court rulings acknowledge our standards. In fact, several states have taken some or all our testing standards and incorporated them into their state testing guidelines. For legitimacy, a court recognized third-party certification like the USPCA Certifications with a known standard is most desirable.

In initial training, most exercises are presented in increments without distractions. Our test is similar and is given in a predictable (without distractions) environment with a set of standards to attain. The certification is offered as an indicator of successful training and a barometer for future training involving deployment scenarios. After certification, the team should transition their learned skills to account for unpredictable and ever-changing environments and deployments.

Let’s look at our canine team testing and review what its intended purpose is and how it affects each team. We offer a test that, when passed, shows that each team has the fundamentals to proceed in their preparation for the more challenging aspects of deployment scenarios.

Each year the handler and their dog are retested to ensure they maintain the proper fundamentals of training and technique. 

The USPCA is still the only association that believes in a measured evaluation. What makes our test seem hard is that we hold each team to a basic level of proficiency, which is attained through proper training.

If you have any questions, please contact our Executive Director Don Slavik [email protected]