Becoming an APOPO Detection Dog Handler

Dog Trainees Group Photo

Dog Handler Training Course

On the 23rd of July, nine APOPO trainees successfully completed their 14-week Mine Detection & Technical Survey Dog handler course. The training was held at APOPO’s Dog Center in Cambodia, led by APOPO Head Dog Trainer Ibrahim Tinjak, assisted by the dog training center staff and in collaboration with the Cambodian Mine Action Center.

Throughout the course, the trainees acquired a combination of theoretical skills in dog anatomy, physiology, behavior, mine action regulations, training philosophies, principles, and techniques, and spent more than 200 hours performing practical skill objectives operating with Mine Detection Dog and Technical Survey Dog under Instructor Supervision.


The new handlers come from 4 different countries – Bosnia, Colombia, Jordan, and Turkey, including 3 women and 6 men, and APOPO was delighted to see once again how people from diverse backgrounds and cultures can successfully cooperate, live and work together for the sake of a mutual objective. The friendly and welcoming environment in Cambodia (the land of smiles) has helped the trainees to acclimatize quickly and make their best out of the course.

With 25 years of experience, APOPO is becoming a global leader in scent detection animals. Since 2017, APOPO has been successfully training traditional mine detection dogs, and later on, the state-of-the-art Technical Survey Dogs (TSD). Technical survey is a process that is principally applied to prove that large areas of minefields are in fact landmine free, and to narrowly identify boundaries for contaminated areas.

APOPO has been growing in its mine detection dog capacity over the last few years and the addition of the nine recently graduated handlers will enable APOPO to build additional mine detection dog teams and respond to the growing demand for technical survey dogs in the mine-affected countries.

APOPO Cambodia is grateful for the support and generous contributions of all its partners and donors.