TTT K9 Certifications: Definitions

The Tactical Tracker Teams certification program has never been for the masses. It is an exceptional training program for exceptional handlers and dogs. Very few pass our certifications standards. Our process was the first of it’s kind in trailing and has been the basis for many modern certifications for other departments and organizations world wide.

TTTK9 leads the way in professionalism and commitment to the art of trailing and our crest is indicative of our esprit de corps. The Gurkha knives wrapped around the K9 paw represent the use of the trailing dog to “cut” the trail. The knives themselves are a tribute to the US Army Combat Tracker Team veterans and their instructors who helped to establish our tactical training way of life 15 years ago. The positioning of the knives represents the yin and yang balanced philosophy of our style of K9 Handling. The cords on the knives represent the handler bound to the code of honesty in the art of trailing.

The rocker system is new and pays tribute to the devotion to training our handlers must have to pass our standards of testing. Each level has a separate rocker combination:

Level 1-Trailing Handler and Bellatorum Semita or “Warrior Path”

TTT K9 Trailing Handler

Level 2-Trailing Specialist and Ductus Exemplo or “Lead by Example”

TTT K9 Trailing Specialist

Level 3-Trailing Expert and Factis Ut Credam Facis or ” Deeds, Then I believe you”

TTT K9 Trailing Expert
Level 4- Trailing Trainer in Gold with Docendo Discimus or “Learning by Teaching”

TTT K9 Trailing Trainer

The patches are a set of three and will feature velcro backing for easy change on uniforms. Full sets will only be available to past and future K9 handlers who have passed our stringent testing process. All handlers who have passed their certifications in the past will have priority shipping. The TTTK9 crest alone is available to the general public. Rockers are for certification holders only. Please contact me by email if you would like to order.

TTT Crest Certification Set: $15.00
TTT Crest Only: $8.00



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 three 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 and evaluator 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.

TTT K9 Corps standards are based on timed, double blind testing. All certification trails are limited by time to ensure that the subject is not found incidentally. Double blind testing means that nobody present on the certification trail knows where the subject is hiding or where the trail goes. There is only a place last seen and a scent article known to all participants.

On the surface, TTT K9 Corps Certification trails may seem easy; please do not make this assumption, for the average handler fails our level one test at least once but more often two and three times. We recommend that you practice our certifications as they are presented, double blind and timed, until you are confident of success.

TTT K9 Definitions

Scent article:

Any item or object holding human odor that targets the K9 onto the specific human trail.


Scent article that does not hold conflicting human odor; e.g. two or more people.


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.


The person whose scent matches the scent article.


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.


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.


The direction the wind blows to. In the case of the subject, the wind blows towards the subject and away from the K9.


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.


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.


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.