Detector Dog Program -
Working with dogs to help protect Australia
The Detector Dog Program (DDP) is an important enforcement capability within Customs and Border Protection. Detector dogs play an important role in the detection of illicit drugs, precursors, firearms and weapons.
The DDP is a national program and has two sub-sections:
- Operations - responsible for the operational deployment of detector dogs across Australia.
- Resource Development - responsible for the breeding and development of high-quality detector dogs, the training of trainee handlers and dogs, and the ongoing proficiency maintenance of all operational detector dog teams.
A detector dog team is generally comprised of one dog and one handler. There are a total of 61 dogs located around Australia including:
- 44 Narcotic Detector Dogs (NDD), and
- 17 Firearm and Explosive Detector Dogs (FEDD)
Detector dogs are deployed in all Customs and Border Protection operational environments, including airports, seaports, cargo depots and international mail centres. Detector dog teams receive taskings from Customs and Border Protection operational areas with these taskings being as a result of risk based intelligence.
Customs and Border Protection detector dogs also support Federal, State and Territory police and other government agencies in search operations (e.g. premise searches).
Detector dogs compliment all other detection technologies used by Customs and Border Protection, such as x-ray and trace detection.
The DDP is continually looking for ways to improve training methods and new applications for detector dog teams. This includes detection of new chemical analogues, such as 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC).
Customs and Border Protection has a Labrador breeding program which evolved due to a world shortage of quality detector dogs. Since its inception in 1993, the program has grown to become one of the leading breeding programs throughout the world.
Customs and Border Protection trains its own officers as well as officers from a wide range of domestic and international agencies. Domestically, Customs and Border Protection has provided training for officers from the Australian Federal Police, State and Territory Police, State Corrections Services, and the Australian Defence Forces.