Human Remains Standards

This test will evaluate the K-9 Teams proficiency in detecting the odor of human remains. 


Areas: The team will be required to search a combination of areas to include open areas (grass, sparsely wooded areas, gravel, dirt, etc.), vehicles, buildings, parcels, luggage or boxes, boats and aircraft.  Substances can be buried up to 12” deep, covered on the surface or up to 6’ high, will be placed out a minimum of one hour prior to the search and should be hidden from view from the handler.  When placing hides, the evaluator will consider the wind, temperature, terrain and other environmental conditions that may affect the scent behavior. 


Contamination: The evaluator, along with other impartial observers, should contaminate the area with human scent to prevent the dog from trailing to the source of the odor.  Search areas will be far enough apart to prevent contamination of scent from one area to the next.  There will be a maximum of one hide per area.  There will be blank areas that may contain animal remains, debris, ground disturbance or various other distracters. 


Substances: Acceptable substances are human aged blood, body fluids, bone or tissue.  No pseudo scents are to be used.  No animal substances may be used as target odors. Samples will weigh at least 15 grams.  The team may be required to provide samples for the certification.


Odor Recognition Portion: There will be a minimum of 3 hides and 3 blank areas. The K9 must alert to and the handler must indicate to the evaluator the general location of the substance.  The evaluator must take into account the terrain, wind and other factors that can influence the location of the K9’s alert and determine if the dog has alerted within an acceptable distance from the source.  The K9 should show a clear change of behavior and make a definite attempt to work to the source of the odor without offering a fringe alert.  There will be a time limit for each area determined by the size and terrain of the area.  The evaluator may extend the time limit at his discretion. 


Scenario Portion: There will also be one scenario-based area.  This will contain a combination of the above listed search areas.  An example scenario is as follows: A child has been missing from home for 2 days.  Police call in a cadaver dog to help search for the child.  You are called to support.  The search areas include the exterior of the house and all property and outbuildings on that lot.  Conduct this scenario as you would an actual search. 


Alert: The handler must verbally indicate to the evaluator the general location of the human remains based on reading his dog’s alert or verbally indicate to the evaluator that there are no human remains in the search area.

Miss: A miss shall occur in an area that contains human remains and the handler indicates to the evaluator that there are no human remains in that area.

False: A false alert shall occur in an area without human remains and the handler indicates to the evaluator that there are human remains in that area.  


Conduct of test: The K-9 must alert to and handler must indicate to the evaluator the general location of the target substance.  One called false alert and one miss shall be allowed, however, a passing percentage score of 90% or greater must be achieved in order to certify. The evaluator or his assistant shall be allowed to reward the dog upon a successful call. The presiding evaluators shall have the final authority to throw out any portion of the test for being fouled by contamination or inappropriate set up of planted hides, and/or faulty instruction to the handlers, and may re-shoot a portion or the entire test on the next day of certification. The entire test shall be timed.


General: The evaluator will determine which odor will be placed in which area, the duration of each problem and/or number of blank areas to be employed.  A minimum of 15gms will be used for certification. The K-9 can be worked on or off leash, as conditions dictate. The evaluator may require the dog to be searched on leash at his discretion. The handler will notify the evaluator as to the completion of each area. The handler may ask to skip an area, and be allowed to return to that area, one time during the test.