FAQ's - Courses

Frequently Asked Questions - Courses

Listed below are a number of questions (with corresponding answers) that we are frequently asked at Wagtail in reference to our courses.

What courses are available?   

We offer a range of courses including the following:

  • Explosive Detection Dog Handler Course
  • Pro-Active Drug Detection Dog Handler Course
  • Passive Drug Detection Dog Handler Course

We also provide bespoke courses to suit individual client needs.  Over the last few years we have trained people in the following detection disciplines:

Cash / Cadaver / Protection / Search & Rescue dogs (including confined space and urban disaster dogs) / Accelerant & Fire Detection / Bio Detection / Conservation (multi- disciplined)

At what level are the courses set?

Our Explosive Detection Courses are set at Level 4 and are assessed against the Qualifications and Credit Framework.  Our other detection courses are set at Level 3.

How long is a course?

The length of our courses is influenced by the mandatory Guided Learning Hours and our desire to ensure that learners have all the necessary skills to enter the job market with confidence. For all current course durations and dates check out our website.

Do courses run over weekends?

Most of the longer courses include some weekends and self-study periods. This is to reduce costs and the amount of time learners have to spend away from home.

Will I be required to do work in the evenings?

Most of our courses require some home study and research outside the time you spend in direct contact with your instructor. This is never extensive and always set in manageable amounts.

How much do courses cost? 

We run a variety of courses which have different durations and costs. An up-to-date list of courses and costs can be found on our website.  A 20% non-refundable deposit is required at the time of booking.  All courses can be paid for in installments, with full payment due 28 days before the course start date. 

Is funding available? 

Service and ex-service personnel, eligible for the MOD's Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) Scheme, can use their Credits towards funding.

Is it possible to do a course in modules?

Our courses are designed in modules in structured weeks which gives learners the option to complete a course either in one block or by completing groups of modules, having a break and returning to complete outstanding modules at a later date. All course dates are publicised on our website.

Are Wagtail courses accredited?

Our Training Centre is accredited by Highfield Awarding Body of Compliance and endorsed by NASDU. Our courses are endorsed by Highfield and meet the requirements of British Standards. We offer NASDU approved courses in Explosive Detection and Drug Detection.

Is Wagtail an accredited training center?

Yes. Our Training Centre is accredited by Highfield ABC and all our training staff are trained to QCF standards.

Do I need prior dog experience before enrolling on a course?

Our courses do not require prior dog handling experience.  If you are unsure about your suitability for a course, then give us a call and we will give you advice over the phone. We also run taster sessions throughout the year, details of which can be found on our website.

I have prior dog experience – can I apply for Accreditation of Prior Learning?

APL can be awarded depending on your experience and qualifications.

I do not have a trained dog.  Can I still do a course?

We would provide you with a Wagtail trained dog for the duration of the course.

Can I do a course with my own dog?

We will only take fully trained dogs on our courses.  Courses are condensed to make them affordable and because of this, trained dogs are a necessity.  Therefore, we would need to assess your dog at least one week before the course starts.  The charge for this assessment would be £50.  You would need to telephone the office to book a mutually convenient time for the assessment to take place.

If your dog passes the assessment then you would be able to attend the course with your own dog.  There would be a £500 supplement in addition to the course fee to bring your own trained dog.  We would also need to see details of inoculations.

What happens if my dog fails the assessment?

If you dog fails the assessment then we would provide you with a Wagtail trained dog for the duration of the course.

I do not have a dog.  Can I buy a dog from Wagtail?

Yes, a fully trained dog would cost £4,000.

I have a dog, but it is not trained.  Can Wagtail train my dog?

Wagtail are able to train your dog for you. You would need to leave your dog with us for the duration of the training period.  The cost for this service is £3,000.

Do you provide kenneling?

Kenneling can be provided subject to availability and approval by our kennel manager.

Do I need an SIA License?

You do not need an SIA License to attend Wagtail courses but some employers will insist on you being SIA qualified prior to employment.

Which course is the best for finding employment afterwards?

All our courses are designed to prepare potential search dog handlers for employment within the industry. Employment opportunities depend on many factors including area, demand, competition etc. We would urge all potential candidates to do their research before enrolling on a course.   Completing a course is not an instant guarantee of work. 

Which area would I get more work from, drugs or explosives?

At the current time, we get most of our enquires about explosives courses, which would indicate a greater demand for work.  However, we would always urge you to do your own research.

Progression?  Once I’ve completed a course, is there another course I should complete?

We would advise you to consider getting some operational experience before progressing.

Do Wagtail offer employment to successful candidates?

Wagtail have a number of opportunities throughout the UK and abroad.  Whilst we cannot guarantee a job, the fact that you have done a Wagtail course will be highly regarded.  It depends on the opportunities available at that time.  These opportunities are not restricted to ex-military and ex-police.

What happens if I fail the course?

Learners are assessed during the course in a number of ways and judged at each stage to be either ‘competent’ or ‘not yet competent’. If you are judged as ‘not yet competent’ at any stage additional training will be given. It should be stressed that this is not an attendance course and learners do need to pass each Learning Objective to qualify.

I have learning difficulties. Will you cater for my needs?

The course is delivered using a number of teaching methods and assessment strategies to assist all learners. Our staff are experienced at delivering training to people with learning difficulties and can tailor assessment methods to suit individual learners. If you have learning difficulties, then please call before enrolling to ensure that you are capable of meeting the learning objectives.

Is there an exam?

Wagtail courses are assessed using a number of assessment methods which include; observation, projects, portfolio work but no exam. If, however you require a NASDU approved course there are potentially 3 exams – Security Exam, Core Skills and Handling.

Are courses residential?

Courses are non-residential in the sense that courses are not tied to the accommodation. If you do require accommodation Wagtail can offer en-suite accommodation at nearby Wagtail House in Prestatyn at discounted rates. Please see our website for details and current prices.

I live locally – can I travel in daily?

Yes. But please speak to our office staff prior to arrival as parking is limited at our training facility.

Do I need to bring any specialist equipment with me?

No. We provide everything you need for the course. We will send you an arrivals pack in advance which includes a suggested list, some basic clothing and administration items.

Which course should I attend to be a detection dog handler in France?

You could enroll on a Proactive Drug Detection Handler course, but this is not guarantee of a job in France.  To work in France, you also need to pass a number of Home Office security checks.

I’m still undecided about enrolling on a course?

We understand that enrolling on a course is a huge commitment and decision to make.  Therefore, we have devised a one-day taster day, designed to give you an insight into professional search dog handling.  Please visit the Taster Day page on our website for further information.


Some hold the philosophy that ‘Knowledge is power’. Here at Wagtail International School of Excellence we believe that ‘Knowledge is empowerment’. 

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