Standard Active Last Updated: Jul 10, 2020
ASTM F1879-14(2020)

Standard Guide for Demonstrating Obedience and Agility in Search and Rescue Dogs

Significance and Use

4.1 This guide establishes the minimum level of obedience and agility required for canines to perform safely and effectively on a search dog team or crew.

4.2 Obedience skills ensure that a dog is under the control of the handler, that it will not interfere with other resources such as search team members, rescue personnel, other search dogs, and members of the public, it can be left without the handler’s supervision, and it can be evacuated by someone other than the handler.

4.2.1 All search dogs shall demonstrate the on-lead obedience skills defined in this guide.

4.2.2 All search dogs that work off-lead shall also demonstrate the off-lead obedience skills defined in this guide.

4.2.3 Off-lead obedience skills shall be demonstrated in the vicinity of a group of people and other dogs, with the accompanying noise and confusion common to search and rescue operations.

4.3 Agility skills demonstrate the dog’s ability to negotiate terrain and obstacles that may be present in a search area. They also demonstrate the dog’s ability to work in an unfamiliar environment with unstable or loose objects underfoot.

4.3.1 All search dogs shall demonstrate the agility skills defined in this guide.

4.3.2 Off-lead search dogs shall perform all agility skills off-lead. On-lead search dogs may perform agility skills on or off lead, at the discretion of the handler. The use of a lead shall neither enhance nor diminish a dog’s ability to demonstrate its agility.

4.3.3 Spotters should be provided for dogs demonstrating agility skills. The spotters, however, should neither enhance nor diminish a dog’s ability to demonstrate its agility.

4.4 Handlers shall direct the dog with minimal commands.

4.4.1 Continuous commands, or excessive talking to the dog, shall not be allowed.

4.4.2 Occasional reminder commands and some praise shall be acceptable.

4.5 This guide may be used by units, handlers, and requesting agencies to evaluate canine search resources. It may also be used for establishing local performance guidelines or standards.

4.6 This guide by itself is not a training document, but may be used to develop a training document or program.

4.7 Nothing in this guide precludes an AHJ from adding additional obedience or agility requirements.

4.8 The skills and abilities presented in the following sections are not in any particular order and do not represent a training sequence.

4.9 The AHJ is responsible for determining how to evaluate the obedience and agility of search dogs.


1.1 This guide establishes the minimum obedience and agility expected of canines that are part of a search dog team or crew.

1.2 Further training is required for a canine before it may perform as a member of a search dog team or crew.

1.3 This guide applies to canine members of all search resources classified in ASTM F1848 Standard Classification System for Canine Search Resources.

1.3.1 The advanced obedience and agility skills required for canine members of Kind D (Disaster/Collapsed Structure Search) dog teams or crews are not defined in this guide.

1.4 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.5 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 13.02
Developed by Subcommittee: F32.02
Pages: 3
DOI: 10.1520/F1879-14R20
ICS Code: 13.200; 65.020.30