AFP Labrador posing on the grass


AFP Canine Operations responds to detection and general purpose canine tasks within Australia. It supports aviation security, community policing, and federal and international operations.

The program trains and develops dogs to support our operations in:

  • detecting firearms and explosives
  • detecting money and drugs
  • detecting electronic storage devices
  • responding to high-risk and critical situations
  • searching for missing people or offenders
  • maintaining public order.

Our canine teams are based across Australia, including at all major airports and as part of ACT Policing.

What you'll do

Our National Canine Operations help protect Australia and Australians as part of a team of highly trained dogs and handlers across the country.

As a general purpose handler, you'll maintain and deploy general purpose police canines. You and your dog will help with such duties as:

  • looking for offenders and missing people
  • responding to critical incidents
  • supporting Tactical Response operations.

As a detection handler, you'll maintain and deploy detection canines to support our operations in aviation, protection and community policing. You and your dog will help us detect such things as cash, drugs, explosives, firearms and technology. Dogs conducting detection work sniff between 5 to 10 times a second. Their smell processing capacity is 40 times stronger than humans, and studies have shown they can find a scent as faint as one part per million!

Our canine handlers are fit, resilient and committed to keeping the community safe. General purpose dogs live with their handlers, while detection dogs live in centralised kennels.

You'll also have the opportunity to work across teams and alongside people in many different roles in the AFP.

As a canine handler, you'll have access to a wide range of benefits and conditions. As your career evolves, you'll have the opportunity to progress through ranks from constable to sergeant and inspector.

To learn more about career progression, salary bands and entitlements, read our Enterprise Agreement.

Find out more about the history of canines with the AFP.


To become a canine handler, you must have 2 years of experience as either:

Once you have the required amount of experience, you’ll be able to apply for general or detection canine handler positions when they are advertised on our Jobs portal.

You'll have to pass additional checks and assessments as part of your application.

How to apply

Joining the AFP as a new recruit

To start your career as a police officer or protective service officer with the AFP, you must:

  • be aged 18 years or over
  • be an Australian citizen
  • hold a valid full or provisional driver's licence (including automatic-only)
  • meet our character standards
  • hold at least one of the following qualifications:
    • Year 10 Certificate and 2 years of work experience
    • Year 10 Certificate and a nationally recognised vocational education qualification at Certificate III level or higher
    • Year 12 Certificate
    • vocational education (TAFE) qualification or university qualification at Diploma level or higher.

You must also provide evidence that you:

  • have had 2 primary doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the Janssen Vaccine at the time of application (evidence can be provided in the form of an immunisation history statement or COVID-19 Digital Certificate)
  • hold current first aid and CPR certifications
  • can swim 100 m freestyle.

Find out how to join us as a:

Joining the AFP from another Australian police force

If you have at least 3 years of operational policing experience, and have not been out of a policing role for more than 5 years, you may be eligible to join the AFP as a police officer through our Lateral Program.

You'll be expected to hold a Diploma of Public Safety (Policing) or equivalent and have strong experience in criminal investigation. We encourage state or territory officers to apply.

You must also:

  • be an Australian citizen
  • be up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations
  • be able to get and maintain a Negative Vetting 1 security clearance
  • hold current first aid and CPR certifications
  • show evidence that you can swim 100 m freestyle.
AFP Canine and officer searching a desk

We offer a rewarding and challenging career, with the opportunity to develop excellence in detection, deterrent, and apprehension canine work. Our teams work across many crime types, disrupting crime to protect Australians and Australia’s interests.

National Canine Operations