River Valley Veterinary Center

8993 Old Highway 99 S
Winston, OR 97496

(541)679-7151

www.rvveterinarycenter.com

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a major purchaser of single-use detector dogs. They train over 300 dogs annually. They purchase dogs in 4 different classifications based on environmental stability and level of training. (Click HERE for the full TSA Canine Statement of Work) 

  1. Explosive Detection Canine (EDC) Basic – These dogs are essentially untrained and their final purpose is for searching of static objects (not humans). Good environmental stability and stress recovery are still necessary due to the need to search in potentially tight or loud spaces, but these dogs are not expected to work in crowds. This is the only purchase classification for dogs suitable only for searching objects. 
  2. Passenger Screening Canine (PSC) Basic – These dogs are essentially untrained but will be expected to screen passengers as well as objects and will need adequate environmental stability and stress recovery traits to be effective in crowded public places. 
  3. Passenger Screening Canine (PSC) Advanced – These dogs have some training but do not meet full validation requirements (ie: they are not trained on a full catalogue of odors). These dogs should have more advanced search skills and commands are predetermined by TSA (SEEK to begin searching, SIT, and OUT to release reward). 
  4. Passenger Screening Canine (PSC) Ready – These dogs are fully trained on the current odor catalogue. In general, the contents of the current TSA odor catalogue are not released to vendors unless they already have a contract in place. This is not a classification that new vendors are likely to be aiming for. 

General Canine Requirements (Click HERE for the full TSA General Assessment Requirements) 

  1. TSA purchases a limited variety of dog breeds – Labrador Retrievers, Flat Coated Retrievers, Vizslas, and German Pointers (Short or Wire coat). Other sporting breeds, German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, and Malinois may be deemed acceptable, but prior authorization is required. The TSA will not accept Springer or Brittany Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Weimaraners, or Border Collies. 
  2. All candidate canines must be identified with an implanted microchip 
  3. Candidates must be between 12 and 36 months of age at the time of delivery 
  4. Candidates must be environmentally stable or “bold” and cannot show any evidence of having been trained with an electronic collar, forced fetch procedures, or compulsive training in the retrieve 
  5. Candidates must pass medical testing and may be required to be muzzled per standard protocols (Click HERE for the full description of Medical Requirements) 
  6. Candidates will be handled by TSA staff during testing (vendors may be able to observe the testing process but will not be allowed to handle the dog) 
  7. Rewards – Food rewards are not acceptable. Kongs, balls, tugs, bumpers, and squeaky toys are all acceptable. The candidate’s preferred reward is noted on it’s paperwork when delivered for testing. 

Specific Assessment Requirements 
Phase I – all candidates are subjected to Phase I testing (Click HERE for the full TSA Phase I Requirements) 

  1. Environmental Stability and Boldness – This testing includes jumping up onto unstable surfaces of “standard table height” as well as tight spaces, slick floors, noise, people, stairs, moving objects, etc. The candidate must show fearlessness without using the reward object as a goal or distraction. 
  2. Equipment – The candidate must accept without struggle or inhibition muzzling, crating and the placement of various equipment including collars, choke chains, martingale collars and harnesses. 
  3. Approach – The candidate must be confident with the approach of single or multiple people including those with luggage 
  4. Static Reward Object – The candidate’s reward object is placed in direct eyesight about 6 ft from the dog while the dog is held on a flat collar and leash. The dog is observed for 15 seconds to assess its desire for the reward in spite of distractions. 
  5. Thrown Reward Object – The candidate’s reward object is thrown in the enclosed testing area and the dog is evaluated for its speed and eagerness in retrieval 
  6. Possession – The candidate’s behavior is evaluated after the retrieval for “possessiveness” including mouthing, holding, and staring. The dog may solicit attention but should not repeatedly drop the reward or abandon it 
  7. Physical Possession – The evaluator will attempt to take the reward from the candidate without the OUT command and the dog is expected to stubbornly resist (tug of war). 

Phase II – Only candidates presented for EDC or PSC Basic (Click HERE for the full TSA Phase II Requirements) 

  1. Open Area (outdoor) - The reward object is placed/thrown in an area where it is concealed without the dog watching. The candidate is expected to show skin in localizing odor and active scent searching until the object is located. This test will be repeated for a minimum of 3 trials. 
  2. Room Search – The evaluator may pretend to place the reward in a location while the dog watches. The candidate is expected to show independent searching (pulling on lead or with a dropped lead) and to stay at the location of the reward/odor until rewarded (usually with a thrown reward). This test will be repeated for a minimum of 3 trials. The dog may be placed in a SIT after finding the reward odor. The dog is not expected to SIT automatically but should not become fearful or be overly disrupted. 

Phase III – Only candidates presented for PSC Basic (Click HERE for the full TSA Phase III Requirements) 

  1. Environmental (in addition to Phase I) - Candidates will be expected to negotiate the following environments confidently and without encouragement from the handler: staircases of different materials and both open and enclosed, luggage areas including around carousels or other equipment, rail cars or aircraft, including small spaces, elevated spaces, and direction to search high. 
  2. Search with Role Players – Role players are seated in a terminal environment and the reward is hidden on or near. The candidate must remain at source until rewarded and not display overly social or rude behavior. 
  3. Follows – The candidate will be enticed with a reward object and the person carrying the reward will walk away. The candidate will be evaluated on its desire to retrieve the object without aggression, leash sensitivity or “over-socialization.” (Unfortunately, the term over-socialization is not defined) 
  4. Operational Airport – Candidates passing all previous testing will be evaluated at San Antonio International Airport (or other similar airport). The dog will be walked on leash from a harness and expected to confidently negotiate the passenger side of the facility (automatic doors, baggage claim carousels, stairs, traffic, noise). The reward object will not be used to encourage the dog. 

Phase IV – Only candidates for PSC Ready or Advanced. The statement of work is unclear on what is considered PSC Advanced as these dogs “must be successful in the majority of Phase IV testing as determined by the evaluator.” This testing is in operational type environments and uses explosive training aids. (Click HERE for the full TSA Phase IV Requirements)