Mantrailing Team IWDA


The objective of the examination is to evaluate the candidate’s suitability to practice the profession according to the criteria established by the IWDA: all participating professionals should act according to technical, moral obligation, ethical methods aimed at promoting the value of the professional category to which they belong.

In many  European and non-European countries there are no official certifications and evaluations are delegated to private organizations.

Many agencies, both in the public and private sector, choose to contact third-party organizations for the evaluation of the performance of their K9 teams, their handlers and instructors in order to obtain a complete certification of skills.

IWDA has chosen not to evaluate the mantrailing units based solely on the execution of a single trail of varying length and age: whereas the work of a team from mantrailing is to gather useful information to finalize the arrest of a suspect or the find of a missing person.

The IWDA exam will then be structured on a range of different tests aimed at the complete evaluation of the K9 Team. The evaluation approach is not that of “passed / failed” but rather that of the balance of competences: each team will then receive a complete evaluation with indications of strengths and weaknesses. In this way those that will pass the exam will receive a complete dossier on their skills while the teams that will not meet the requirements required by the standard will be able to concentrate the training on the areas in which they are most lacking.

Theoretical Skills

Members of the International Working Dogs Association (IWDA) wishing to register as IWDA K9-Mantrailing team should pass a multiple choice written test on following:

  • Theory of learning
  • Theory of scent
  • Stress/Arousal in working dogs
  • Motivation and drives
  • Play/Fight
  • Differences between trailing and tracking
  • Scent article
  • First Aid (dogs)
  • IWDA Code of Ethics

The written test will consists of 30 questions. The test is considered passed with the minimum score of 80%.

IWDA will provide on its website the updated list of books/articles to be studied.


Members of International Working Dogs Association (IWDA) that passed written test will be evaluating on following:

Human Scent Matching and Indication: The dog must show the ability to perform the scent-matching between the odor presented with the scent article and the trail and to correctly identify the finding of the target person.

Before leaving for the trail, the handler must state what is the alert behavior used by his dog to warn of the discovery of the target person. The alert behavior should be clear to the evaluator. Classical indications are accepted (i.e. barking, retrieve, jump on, sit). The handler should not promt the indication.

Minimum 2 and maximum 4 people will start together from the same starting point and each of them will be asked to make a trail for a K9 unit. People will move away in different directions. Trails of the different layers will have to cross at least twice. The scent articles must be identical to each other and placed in numbered zip-locked bags. Only the evaluator knows the number / subject assignment. The people at the end of the trail will be lined up at a distance of at least 3 meters (10 feet) and not more than 5 meters (16 feet). Trails must be aged for at least 1 hour.

Scent article management / Aged trail: the handler should show that he has everything necessary for the collection, conservation and creation of a scent article. The evaluator will indicate to the handler the area/object from which to collect / create the scent article and the procedure used will be evaluated as part of the test.

The dog must be able to follow an aged trail of 24 hours with a length between 450 and 900 meters (from ¼ mile up to ½ mile). The trail should has at least 2 changes of surface / vegetation and must be in an area where there is contamination of both humans and other animals. Part of the trail will have to take place in an urban environment. Exercise will be blind. If the dog lost the trail and its not able to pick up anymore the handler should be able to indicate the place where the dog lost it. If the handler correctly indicates the know the point trail is not considered a fail.

Double blind test: K9 team should be able to identify the subject after a ¼ mile double blind trail aged at least 30 minutes and no more the 1 hour.

Veichle pick up: in today’s society, where the possibilities of communication and transport are multiple, many cases end with a veichle pick up. The team must demonstrate the ability to accurately and securely identify the place where a person was picked up by a vehicle or has moved away with public transport. The trail is blind and will take place in a medium-contaminated urban environment.

The dog will be able to stop at the point of pick-up or to continue following the veichle trail. The objective of the test is to establish the capacity of the handler, in both cases, to indicate the place where the person was picked up from the vehicle.


Cast for a start of the trail: Dog team must demonstrate the ability to cast for a trail, have the dog indicate on the trail and follow it with or without using a scent article. The time this exercise ages will be undetermined and may be coupled with other components of the evaluation.

K9 Unit should demonstrate the ability to cast for a start of the trail: dog has to indicate on the trail and follow it.  The exercise could be done with or without scent article. The lenght of the cast shall be between 40 meters (40 yards) and 90 meters (90 yards). The exercise shall be done in a clean area with no know contaminations: surface shall be natural.

No scent identification (absence of trail): the dog will be given a scent article of a person that never been in the area. The starting point is on a place with moderate contamination and every kind of surface. Contamination shall be both animals and humans. The dog handler should be able to determine to the evaluator if a trail of the target person is in the area or not.

Stop the K9 on the trail: In many cases it may be necessary to stop the dog to get it to rest or for additional need. It is important that the handler is able to temporarily stop the dog on the trail and start it again without losing motivation, concentration and without the need to present again the scent article. In this exercise the handler should stop the dog on a trail for at least 2 minutes up to 5 minutes. The dog should be still focus on the trail after he come back to work.

Other requirements

  • Training logs: handler has to show a records of training with the indication of components and exercises done during the training of his dog, the evaluation of training progress and failure and the actions done to plan the progress and fix the troubles.
  • Equipment: handler has to show his equipment for mantrailing both for K9 and scent article.


  • The evaluation last one year (12 months).
  • Each component could be mixed up with other components of the exam
  • Written test can be made in a different session
  • People who need to renew the evaluation doesn’t need to repeat written test.