The following sections are excerpts from the 2009 VPCA Bylaws And Certification Rules document, currently in effect governing annual VPCA Certifications process and the testing procedures.

     Under NO circumstances will a VPCA K9 Team Certification be valid when the team is being utilized for any and all NON-law enforcement agency uses.



     K9 Teams may be certified in any of the following phases:

  • Obedience
  • Agility
  • Tracking
  • Trailing
  • Patrol Utility
  • Area Search
  • Search & Rescue Area Search
  • Article Search
  • Building Search
  • Criminal Apprehension/Aggression Control
  • Narcotic Detection
  • Explosive Detection
  • Accelerant Detection
  • Cadaver Search
  • Wildlife Detection
  • Instructor/Evaluator certifications


  • Download the current Recertification Score Sheet for Recertification.
  • Download the current VPCA Bylaws And Certification Rules.
  • Download the current Complete Certification Package for Initial Certification and Recertification.


         Police work dog Teams wishing to be tested and certified under these rules and by the Virginia Police Canine Association must be regular members of this organization.

         Associate Members will receive an Associate Member Certification Certificate from the VPCA Secretary, which is designed specifically for Associate Members who successfully test in any of the testing phases.


         The Handler and the Dog will be considered as a Team. It is the Team who will be certified, not the individuals. If the dog changes Handlers or Handler changes dogs, a NEW team exists and that new Team will need to be certified.


         There will be no fee charged for VPCA regular Certification testing. There may be a $5 fee imposed for each phase that is failed. A fee may be imposed to cover expenses of travel, lodging and meals only, if necessary.


         As of January 01, 2009; all Patrol Utility K9 Team Handlers must be certified as Decoys. Any new member who is not a certified as Decoy, must become a certified decoy upon the completion of their Basic Patrol K9 School.


         The Virginia Police Canine Association has adopted the following certification test rules. Each of the certification tests is designed to determine the proficiency of the work dog team for Certification in each phase of police work for canines. Whenever practical, a police work dog team graduating from an accredited training school should be tested and accredited annually. The successful passing and accreditation of these courses is usually acceptable testimony in court. Each test is based on a pass/fail basis.


         Instructor/Evaluators will act as Judges for these tests. Instructor/Evaluators will designate the area, phase, and manner of each phase to be tested. The Instructor/Evaluator should make every effort not to interfere with or distract the dog. The Instructor/Evaluator will observe the work dog during each test for willingness, enjoyment, interest, and accuracy. Handlers will be observed for ability and overall control of his/her dog.


         Upon successful completion of each test the Instructor/Evaluator will issue permanent credentials, and they will be valid for one (1) calendar year from the date of issue. Certifications will expire at the end of that calendar year. Multiple testing dates will be announced for each year. If a team does not test on these assigned dates, then other arrangements must be made with an Instructor/Evaluator for testing.

    The team being tested must pass each phase of each test no matter in what order or combination they are tested in. A VPCA Certification of a Regular Member K9 Team in any and all phases, will ONLY BE VALID when the K9 team is being utilized by:

  • The law enforcement agency they are employed by,
  • A law enforcement agency they are on official assignment to, by authority of their own law enforcement agency employer (e.g. county, state, federal task force), or
  • A law enforcement agency, which requested and received an official mutual aid request from the K9 Team’s law enforcement agency employer.

         Under NO circumstances will a VPCA K9 Team Certification be valid when the team is being utilized for ANY and ALL NON-law enforcement agency uses.


         At no time during any of the certification tests will sticks or whips of any type, pinch collars, electronic or ultrasonic devices be used.


         A work dog team that fails any of the certification tests may reapply for testing at the next and most convenient date, but must stay within the Re-testing Rules as outlined in the most recent VPCA Bylaws And Certification Rules.


         A work team that fails any of the certification testing may re-test within 24 hours of the failed test. If a work team fails the second attempt; they will not be able to test again for 1-week, but not to exceed 30-days. After the 1-week period, the work team may test for the third and final attempt.

         If a work team fails the third and final attempt, they MUST attend a Basic K9 Training School; and may only re-test upon the successful completion of that school.


         All of the Certification tests are scored on a pass/fail basis.

         Any work dog Team that fails a test and feels that they have been judged unfairly, will at the time of the test notify the Instructor/Evaluator of his/her appeals. The testee will then file a complete report of his/her observations and the reasons they feel they were judged unfairly. The Instructor/Evaluator, having been notified of the appeal, will file a report of his/her observations, all testing sheets, and basis for failing the team.

         All reports will be filed within thirty (30) days of the test. Reports, or copies thereof, will be forwarded to an Appeals Committee. Findings of the Appeals Committee will be returned to the testee and the Instructor/Evaluator. The decision of the Appeals Committee must be by a majority vote and will be final.

         If, during the time period that a Certification certificate is issued for any or all phases, the K9 Team retests in any or all of the same phases AND FAILS; then the initial Certificate which was issued in the failed phase or phases will become NULL AND VOID. Further, a letter to this effect will be sent to the K9 Team and their Department; including the recommendation that they be retested with thirty (30) days of this notification.


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