AvSec’s explosive detector dogs (EDD) are different from Customs and MPI dogs. Their job is to sniff for explosives and explosive materials not drugs or food. Each EDD team consists of one dog and one handler.

These teams do a very important job protecting travellers, airline crew, airport workers and New Zealand at large by ensuring that no explosive materials are present on aircraft or in our airports.

They are based at the main airports: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown.

Why do we need dogs?

Our dog teams search for any explosives in car parks, navigation facilities, unattended cars and unattended items/bags, cargo, and aircraft. They also conduct random proactive foot patrols around the airport environment, at check in counters, screening points, and gate lounges. By being visible they can act as a deterrent for any wrongdoers.

They also help other agencies like the Police, Customs and Corrections when there are bomb threats at airports as well as other places.

Our dog teams are mobile, quick and a reliable and cost-effective way of detecting explosives.


Teams undergo a 10 week training course and graduate from the Police Dog Training Centre as ‘Operational’.

To be suitable for our programme the dogs need to be happy, confident, sociable, love to play with toys, with no aggression.

AvSec’s explosive detector dog training programme was officially recognised by the United States’ Transportation Security Administration in October 2014 — a world-first acknowledgement.


The EDD unit was started in 1992 with one team and has grown from there. Today there are more than 30 dog teams located at the four main airports.

Collectible cards

Collectable dog card - NitroAvSec’s collectible cards for each of its dogs are designed to educate children about the safeguards that exist to protect them at the airport and in the air. Some children want to play with the dogs and others find their presence intimidating. The cards aim to help them understand that the dogs are at the airport to do an important job.

The cards are handed out at airports where the dogs work and are an economical and effective way to educate, because the teams are often focused on their job and unable to stop and talk to travellers about what the dogs are doing.

See a web version of our dog cards.

Ask AvSec

If you have any questions about this topic, use our contact form, or email reception@avsec.govt.nz.