Commissioner's Directive

Detector Dog Program



  • To establish procedures for the operation and monitoring of a Detector Dog Program within institutions and when assisting partner agencies
  • To prevent the introduction, possession and exchange of contraband into CSC facilities with the assistance of a certified detector dog team



  1. The Director General, Security, will:
    1. provide overall management for detector dogs, as property of the Government of Canada
    2. maintain a list of equipment and supplies to be purchased for the program in accordance with the Detector Dog Program Operations and Procedures Manual
    3. establish standards for the operational aspects of the Detector Dog Program
    4. establish procedures to:
      1. provide and maintain inventories of training aid kits for detector dog teams
      2. assess applicants for skills unique to and required for detector dog handling
      3. measure interdiction activities of the Detector Dog Program.
  1. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Integrated Services, will:
    1. ensure procedures for measuring interdiction activities and accountabilities are utilized
    2. approve requests to deploy detector dogs to Community Correctional Centres and other agencies.
  2. The Regional Administrator, Security, will:
    1. provide regional administrative and operational support for the Detector Dog Program
    2. develop a regional assistance strategy for the utilization of detector dogs within his/her region
    3. coordinate annual certifications of detector dog teams.
  3. The Institutional Head will:
    1. ensure only detector dog teams with current certification are utilized for searches of areas where there is an expectation of privacy such as cells, lockers or vehicles, where no previous information exists to establish reasonable grounds to do a search
    2. ensure that an approved and suitably equipped vehicle is provided to the Handler for duty-related activities
    3. provide kennels
    4. ensure areas of the institution to be utilized for searching individuals with detector dogs are modified and/or arranged to facilitate the search
    5. ensure time is available for Handlers to complete required maintenance and training
    6. ensure storage facilities for training aid kits meet all security requirements
    7. ensure the measurement of interdiction activities and accountability processes are kept current
    8. ensure the Detector Dog Handler/Search Specialist is not deployed to alternate posts, except in emergency situations
    9. ensure a detector dog team is available at all inmate events pre-designated by the Institutional Head
    10. ensure that the use of detector dog teams is incorporated into Institutional Search Plans.
  4. The Detector Dog Handler/Search Specialist will:
    1. search all areas of the institution pursuant to the Institutional Search Plan and as instructed by the Institutional Head
    2. provide complete care, maintenance and motivation of the detector dog including, but not limited to, feeding, hygiene and health care needs, exercise, training and socialization
    3. provide care and maintenance of all equipment including assigned government vehicle and supplies provided for the detector dog team
    4. ensure, pursuant to the Detector Dog Program Operations and Procedures Manual:
      1. control of training aids
      2. compliance with all detector dog training
      3. complete documentation
      4. conduct of inventory verification audits
    5. remove detector dog waste located on the penitentiary reserve and in close proximity to walkways used by persons visiting the institution, and in other public places, as required by local by-laws
    6. maintain control of the detector dog at all times
    7. ensure search methods comply with CD 566 - Framework for the Prevention of Security Incidents, CD 566‑8 - Searching of Staff and Visitors, the Detector Dog Program Operations and Procedures Manual and the Institutional Search Plan in CD 566-9 - Searching of Cells/Rooms, Vehicles and Other Areas.


  1. Detector dogs will be transported in CSC vehicles. Privately owned motor vehicles will not be used except:
    1. for occasional and documented exceptional circumstances, with the authorization of the Institutional Head and pursuant to the Treasury Board Travel Directive
    2. in emergencies when no other means of transportation is available.
  2. Detector dogs will not be used for searching:
    1. private residences or areas, except when the Handler is assisting an external agency with the appropriate approval
    2. lands designated as sacred grounds within a penitentiary. In exceptional circumstances where there is reliable intelligence, the Institutional Head will consult the Elder to identify procedures that will respect spiritual and cultural protocols, while ensuring the safety and security of the institution.
  3. The Institutional Head will consider the needs of CSC prior to supporting a request for assistance from a partner agency.
  4. Any person who wilfully causes unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to a detector dog may be reported to police. While detector dogs are not considered Peace Officers, the Handlers are, and the dog is considered a necessary tool for the execution of the Handler/Peace Officer's duties. Obstructing a detector dog is therefore equivalent to obstructing a Peace Officer in his/her duties and may result in a charge of obstruction of a Peace Officer under the Criminal Code.
  5. Any inmate who wilfully causes unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to a detector dog or who interferes with the duties of the dog can be charged with disciplinary offences under paragraph 40(r) of the CCRA.
  6. Searches involving detector dogs will comply with procedures pursuant to the Manual on Religious and Spiritual Accommodation.


  1. Strategic Policy Division
    National Headquarters


Original signed by
Don Head




GL 351-1 - CSC Uniforms, Dress Code and Scale of Issue

CD 566 - Framework for the Prevention of Security Incidents

CD 566-1 - Control of Entry to and Exit from Institutions

CD 566-2 - Control of Vehicle Entry to and Exit from Institutions

CD 566-6 - Security Escorts

CD 566-7 - Searching of Inmates

CD 566-8 - Searching of Staff and Visitors

GL 566-8-1 - Use of Non-Intrusive Search Tools

CD 566-9 - Searching of Cells/Rooms, Vehicles and Other Areas

CD 577 - Staff Protocol in Women Offenders Institutions

CD 585 - National Drug Strategy

Manual on Religious and Spiritual Accommodation

Detector Dog Program Operations and Procedures Manual

Health Canada Directive on Physical Security Requirements for Controlled Substances


Detector dog: a dog that is trained to search for specific odours and identify the source of the odours through a behavioural change. CSC detector dogs are certified to work with a specific Handler. No other person will utilize the detector dog in a search capacity.

Detector dog team: a trained and certified detector dog and Handler.

Detector Dog Handler/Search Specialist: a specialist who will assist the designated manager in the development and maintenance of a thorough and consistent Institutional Search Plan and a trained and certified Detector Dog Handler.

Training aid: a legally possessed item or substance used to train a detector dog in the scent profiles for which the dog has been certified.

Training aid kit: a supply of controlled substances approved and provided by Health Canada.

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.