Customs prefers candidates with a background in the Customs Service for dog handler positions. The first step for anyone interested in a dog handler position who is not already a Customs Officer, is to join the Customs Service as a Trainee Customs Officer. Dog handlers need a thorough understanding of Customs' operations by working in at least two different operational areas (eg Airport and Trade & Marine) and need to be confident interacting with the public.
Generally you need determination and a strong work ethic to be a successful dog handler. Previous experience with dogs is not a prerequisite. Dog handlers need good people skills – much of their work involves interacting with the public and handlers are required to search and question people.
Being a Customs detector dog handler involves 24/7 commitment and often handlers are required to work outside of normal working hours. Shift work is involved.
Detector dogs live with their handlers and dog handlers cannot have another dog living in their house.
When Customs detector dog handler's positions are advertised, an appointment panel evaluates the CVs submitted, inviting selected applicants to participate in a practical assessment day. This assessment measures their affinity with dogs and their dog handling skills.
After the assessment day, applicants are short-listed for interviewing.
A trainee handler is required to pass a detector dog-training course before becoming operational. Some of this training will be done at the Police Dog Training Centre in Trentham, Upper Hutt.
Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011