March 2021 / News

Hart Has World-Class K9 Units, Here’s Why

Hart’s canine capability is fully in-house, meaning we retain complete control over the selection, training and care of our personnel and dogs. Here, Hart’s Kennel Master in Afghanistan shares how her team maintain the quality and standards of our 60-strong K9 unit.

Hart recently added eight new dogs to our K9 team in Kabul, a mixture of Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. “The dogs were sourced in Holland because of the excellent quality, bloodlines and training there,” explains Karen Yardley, Kennel Master. After two days of travelling, on arrival in Kabul they were thoroughly checked over by the vets before being transported to the Hart kennels.

Only once they had settled in, were getting used to the handlers and the change of environment – Kabul is at a higher altitude and currently much warmer than Holland – Hart started putting them through their paces with some light training. “Light Training is box work; we have boxes with a large hole in the top that the dog puts their nose in to smell what’s inside. We place a training aid inside one box which, depending on the dog, will be either an explosive or narcotics. We then see how the dog reacts to the scent and if all goes well, in the next few days we will start vehicle searches, luggage, building searches and open areas. We will hide a training aid in one of these areas and see if the dog can find it by using a systematic search pattern.”

Hart K9 Training

Once happy that the new dog is settled and finds all the training aids, Karen and the handlers will start what they refer to as the ‘reteam’. “This means matching a handler with a dog; we get to know the dog and handler and see which personality matches which dog.” Once they are matched, the handlers will spend a few days walking, grooming and feeding their dogs so they bond with them.

“After a few days we start the box training so the handler can learn to ‘read’ the dog, which means that they can see any change in the dog’s behaviour if they approach a training aid.” After this the handlers work their dogs on vehicles, open areas, luggage and buildings.


For the final part of the training, the Kennel Master will set out assessment which involves the K9 team searching vehicles, luggage, open area and a building. Only the Kennel Master will know where the training aids are placed and the K9 teams have to find all the aids and use the correct procedure when they find them. For narcotics they will inform the supervisor; for explosives they will memorise the area the aid is found, clear out the area and inform the supervisor. “After this final assessment they are ready to start work as a Hart Search Dog,” says Karen. “Welcome Boni, Kyra, Karola, Tony, Mona, Fido, Brayan and Marcsi to the K9 team!”

Did you know?
All Hart Handlers have done an Explosive detection dog course (EDD) or a Narcotics Detection dog course (NDD) prior to being employed with Hart. Hart also does monthly assessments on the K9 teams to check their standards remain high.
Our dogs have logged over 2,700 dedicated K9 training hours in just 4 months, on a current project in Afghanistan
In this time we have totalled 400+  contraband finds: a mix of narcotics, ammunition, raw gold, money and weapons.