GAK9 Certification

Mantrailing Overijssel conducts its exams according to GAK9 standards, which is an official American exam. After successfully completing an exam you will recieve a GAK9 certificate.

This standardization is based on a sense of reality, reliability, honesty and achievability from years of on-the-job experience. These exams are set up in a way so that the candidate and his dog can rely only on themselves and have to work completely independantly. These exam trails are double blind trails. In other words, nobody accompanying the candidate and dog during the exam has any information about where the trail is. Registration of the exam will take place using GPS data recordings. You can find the exam standards describle on the GAK9.com website aswell.

There are 4 levels to be accomplished: level 1, level 2, level 3 and level 4. Requirements are described separately below.

Requirements

Only level 1 may be evaluated by the team’s own GAK9-trainer. Certification of levels 2-4 will be conducted by a GAK9 trainer not connected to the K9 team’s education. This is done to prevent bias. All tests conducted by a GAK9 trainer need to be applied for. There will be an exam fee (to cover expenses, e.g. trail layer, administration and evaluator).  The tests need do be registered using gps devices and a timer, for both trail layer and K9 team. Collected data needs to be handed in to the GAK9 organization and according to this data a decision will be made whether or not the K-9 team has pass the evaluation. In case of incomplete or inadequate data the GAk9 organization will decide.

This evaluation is designed to effectively evaluate a particular K-9 team’s ability to track or trail a person through scent discrimination practices. The evaluation only tests a K-9 team’s ability to identify and utilize a particular human scent to find that unique individual. The evaluation does not test any other form of K-9 work to include obedience, protection, or area search techniques.

The tests are in four separate levels to encourage more training and achievement in the areas of scent discrimination tracking/trailing. Level 1 must be passed before continuing to the next level of testing. Each level is result oriented and does not evaluate a dog’s behaviors or mannerisms while tracking/ trailing. It is simply a test of the dog’s ability to get from point A to point B and find the correct person. K-9 teams are not required to stay directly on the path or trail or the “suspect” as scent patterns may change depending upon conditions. However, the team must run in a generally parallel direction to that of the trail. Area search patterns are not permitted. The age and distance of the trails are not exact as it is difficult if not impossible for a “suspect” to travel an exact distance in realistic conditions. The distances and ages are guidelines and will be adhered to as conditions dictate.

Trailing is generally a K9 search method employing harness and long leads, (10-20’), however, it is clear that it is not the harness and the long lead that make the trail a success. Handlers may employ whatever tack or lack thereof necessary to work their own individual K9. Handlers may also employ whatever methodology, (other than area search), they choose to engage the K9 on the trail. Force techniques such as running the lead under the dog’s leg to force the nose to the ground are highly discouraged.

In each of the trailing certifications listed below, the evaluator charged with administering these tests will not be allowed to see the laying of the trail. GPS with “bread crumb” capabilities will be employed by the trail layer subject should the trail or subject need to be found if the K9 fails. The evaluator may carry a mated GPS to the subject’s and the handler will not be able to see the GPS until after the test. One observer of the K9 teams’ choosing may accompany the K9 team at the approval of the evaluator. The observer may act as a “cover man” and assist the K9 handler with obstacles, distractions, and dangerous situations. The observer may not communicate with the handler in regards to search strategy. Though the cover man may at times be needed to strategize with the handler and handle the K9 in real world situations, he or she will not be allowed to do so for the purposes of these tests.

 

Definitions

Scent article: Any item or object holding human odor that targets the K9 onto the specific human trail.
Uncontaminated: Scent article that does not hold conflicting human odor; e.g. two or more people.
Counter-measures: As related to scent article use, methods such as “missing member” used to isolate and individual odor on a scent article and trail.
Evidence Search: As related to collection of a scent article. Using the K9 to locate an article with human odor.
Scent article presentation: The moment prior to starting the trail when the handler exposes the scent article to the K9
Scent article protection: Any method used to maintain a scent article in a relatively uncontaminated state; e.g. plastic bags, latex gloves, etc.
Search Command: A verbal or visual command to start a K9 on a scent trail.
Subject: The person whose scent matches the scent article.
Trail: Commonly confused with a “track”.  The trail is the path the suspect moved in not confined to the actual steps he or she walked.  The trail is the path where the subject odor has fallen.
Soft surface: Grass, soil, sand, etc. Surface organic in nature.
Hard surface: A generally man-made surface such as concrete or black-top.
Obstacle: An obstacle can be any inanimate object that impedes the K9 team’s progress such as a fence, building, or wall.
Negotiate or bypass: As it relates to an obstacle.  The K9 team can climb, crawl, ford, swim, or go around an obstacle.
Upwind: If something moves upwind, it moves in the opposite direction to the wind. If something is upwind, the wind is blowing away from it. In the case of a subject, the scent is blowing from the subject to the K9.
Downwind: The direction the wind blows to. In the case of the subject, the wind blows towards the subject and away from the K9.
ID: The handler articulated action of the K9 that positively identifies the subject at the end of the trail.
Human distraction: Any live person engaged in any activity.
Animal distraction: Any live animal engaged in any activity.
Ignore distraction: The K9 cannot “ID” the distraction
Successful completion: The K9 starting as directed, following the trail of the subject, and identifying the subject in the allotted time.
Area search pattern: The method a handler would use to put the dog, on or off lead, into a position where he can “wind” the suspect through repetitive free roam commands.
Evaluator: Any K9 handler who has passed the level III test below and has a minimum of two years K9 trailing experience and certified by this governing board. The evaluator administers the K9 Trailing certifications below.
Cover-man: This governing body believes strongly in the use of a trained person who accompanies the K9 team on any search.  As the handler of the team is often so engrossed in reading his or her dog, they may not be able to effectively deal with dangerous situations, distractions, and obstacles.

Aantekeningen

De gezochte persoon is in de regel onbekend ten aanzien van de K9 en de geleider in alle testen. Het ten alle tijden verboden om de gps-gegevens van de trail van de gezochte persoon te evalueren tijdens de trail, als het team dus nog aan het werk is.

Het is onmogelijk om controle te houden over de effecten van de wind, zelfs als een trail-loper zijn best doet om de mogelijkheid om het vinden op “hoge wind” uit te sluiten. Vinden op “hoge wind” of “air scent finds”, maken de test niet ongeldig. Dit is een natuurlijke situatie. We moeten er echter wel naar streven om het vinden met behulp van hoge wind zoveel mogelijk te reduceren.
De ligtijd van een trail is bij benadering omdat de exacte gegevens van een dubbelblinde trail moeilijk te achterhalen is ook al heb je nog zo’n goede communicatie. Ook heeft de ligduur in bepaalde omstandigheid een andere uitwerking dan diezelfde ligduur in andere omstandigheid. Bijvoorbeeld: bepaalde omgevingsomstandigheden zijn meer geschikt om 3 uur te liggen dan 4 uur met dezelfde moeilijkheidsgraad. Er doen zich veel situaties voor waar geur niet houdbaar blijft, zelfs niet bij een ligduur van 2 uur. Het proces van geur in stand houden in relatie tot de tijd, is nooit constant.

Er wordt een relatief kort tijdsbestek gehanteerd bij het uitlopen van de trails. Dit is om het vinden door toeval zoveel mogelijk uit te sluiten. De testen moet een bepaalde haalbaarheid hebben voor de gemiddelde student dus geen speciaal opgeleide K9 teams. Analoog aan dit verhaal waren onze vroegere testen bijna niet haalbaar op betrouwbare wijze. Onze oude level 3, wat nu level 4 is, bleek onbereikbaar. Een 6 uur oude trail op harde ondergrond is extreem moeilijk en de successen in het verleden zijn voornamelijk toe te schrijven aan het vinden op air-scent na een periode van grote vertwijfeling. Geen daadwerkelijke mantrailing. Sinds 2009 zijn er zelfs maar 21 teams die de level 2 test succesvol hebben afgelegd.

Het is belangrijk dat de trail-loper op zijn plaats blijft gedurende de gehele ligtijd en niet tussentijds heen en weer gereden wordt naar het einde van de trail. In een “realcase scenario”, een echte situatie, is de gezochte persoon ook de gehele tijd op een plek, de K9-teams moeten kunnen omgaan met daadwerkelijke scent-pools, geurbellen die gerelateerd zijn aan deze situatie.
De tijdslimieten voor alle testen zijn gemiddelden, gebaseerd op algehele testresultaten in Europa en de USA. Er zijn gebieden waar de testen eenvoudiger zijn en de tijdslimieten zijn relatief kort. Deze zijn niet toepasbaar in gebieden waar de gebieden extreem moeilijk zijn. Daarom zijn de tijdslimieten, kaders waarbinnen de examinator kan handelen.