Legal Requirements

It is imperative that more specific information should be provided regarding dog and handler training because, in terms of the Private Security Regulation Authority (PSIRA) Act, no. 56 of 2001 there are specific requirements that must be adhered to by any Security Service Provider who wishes to provide and/or use dogs and/or trained handlers in compliance with Section 3, with regard to the enforcement of minimum standards in terms of Government Gazette 19067, Board Notice 20; and Government Gazette 19740, Board Notice 15.

What is even more important, is that Clients who make use of the services of dogs and/or handlers may also be penalised severely under the law if their Security Service Provider does not comply with the stipulations of the relevant legislation.

Here is a summary of the minimum standards set by the Act with regard to Security Officers, Security Service Providers, Dogs, and Clients or End Users:

Security Officers:

  • A security officer working with a dog must have been trained at a PSIRA accredited dog training centre.
  • He/she must be in possession of a certificate issued by PSIRA, stating the level of competency with regard to dog training (DH 1 – DH 4 for patrol work; DH 5 for substance detection work (Explosives, Narcotics).

Security Service Providers:

  • A Security Service Provider who supplies dogs and trained handlers must be accredited as a Security Dog Supplier.
  • Security Service Providers must know that legislation is in place that makes it a criminal offence to make use of dogs and handlers who do not comply with the minimum standards as laid down by the relevant Act and Government Gazettes,
  • In terms of the said Act, if a Security Service Supplier fails to comply with the set norms and standard of services, it constitutes improper conduct in terms of the Code of Conduct for Security Service Providers, as well as a criminal offence.


  • Substance detection dogs must have positive identification (for example a tattoo or microchip).
  • Every substance detection dog must have a certificate that indicates that the dog is trained to identify substances positively, issued by an accredited DH 5 instructor at an accredited DH 5 dog training centre, with date of certification.
  • Work Dogs Dh 1 to DH 4 (patrol dogs) must have positive identification (for example a tattoo or microchip).

Clients or End Users:

  • Clients/End Users who make use of dogs and/or handlers must ensure that their Security Service Providers comply with the relevant legislation.
  • The End Users must protect themselves against prosecution in terms of regulations set by the Private Security Industry Regulation Act (Act 56 of 2001, Section 38). In terms of the PSIRA Act, persons who do not ensure that their service provider rendering a service complies with the relevant Act, are guilty of a criminal offence, and are liable to a fine, or imprisonment, or both.

Training standards for Security dogs and handlers document
(click for document)


PSIRA (Private Security Industry Regulations Authority) is responsible for quality assurance of training of handlers and dogs for the Private Security Industry in South Africa.

SASSETA (Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority) is responsible for learning programmes offered to handlers. Training is much more comprehensive and based on unit standards as laid down by the NQF (National Qualifications Framework).

NB: As soon as the Minister as per Government Gazette number 32670 (30 Oct 2009) repeals the validity of handlers who have only obtained a PSIRA training level to work in the Private Security Industry, they will have to undergo the much more comprehensive SASSETA training referred to in the previous paragraph.

Constitutional Court Judgement

The reason for dog handlers not being allowed to work in the Private Security Industry without a PSIRA DH certificate is explained by a ruling delivered in a case heard by the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Here is an excerpt from the ruling: “The sheer size of the private security industry, as well as the coercive power it wields during the regular conduct of its business underscore the need for regulation and adherance to appropriate standards. Close Control and management of this massive industry is imperative” (Case CCT 77/08 [2009] ZACC 11).

The judgement stresses that it is imperative that they (security officers) are appropriately trained and skilled, empowering them to perform their duties in terms of the set norms and standards stipulated by the Act (Private Security Industry Regulation Act, Act no 56 of 2001).

PSIRA/SASSETA alignment of competencies 

For a comprehensive list – click here