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by Constable Steve Holmes

Puppies start police training very young by learning to obey commands and pay attention to what he is being taught. The pup doesn’t know it, but he is being watched closely to see if he ‘has the right stuff’ to be a great police dog. He is also checked to ensure he stays healthy and grows strong. Not all puppies are cut out to be police dogs. Those who make it are given to loving homes. Those that do make it go on to a dog training facility.

Police officers who want to be dog handlers must raise three to five puppies and be willing to volunteer their time to familiarize themselves with the world of police dog handling by being prey or quarries for the handlers and their dogs. In addition, they must put on bite arms and bite suits to play the part of the human dog treat after they run a track for the police dogs to follow.

CST Chris Brinnen & Kaiser

Dogs that Make the Cut

If the police dog succeeds in the track, he gets to chew the bite arm the person is wearing as a reward, which keeps the dog’s interest in what he is doing. If the dog handler in-training is selected, he will also go to dog training facility to meet his new canine partner. There they will train together for over six months. During this time, an amazing bond will form between dog and human, and the two will learn to communicate with each other so they can work well together in the field.

The handler will learn to control his dog efficiently and understand what the dog is telling him by his body language and voice. For instance, the dog is taught to tell his handler when he has found something, either by sitting down or barking a certain way. The handler is also taught to use specific hand signals to tell his dog what to do. At the end of the training, the dog and human have formed a working partnership that continues to develop when they return to the community.

Smelling the Bad Guys

All police dogs can track human scent, which falls off us like invisible dandruff. This scent lands on the ground or other things but doesn’t stay there forever, as the wind and water can take it away. That’s why police dogs need to get to the crime scene as soon as possible to pick up the scent while it’s still there. Police dogs can also be trained to sniff out drugs, explosives, dead bodies, and objects with human scent. Most police dogs have good long careers lasting 6-10 years on average.

After the dog is retired, if the handler wants another dog, he returns to the police dog training facility and trains with another partner. Some of them work with several dogs during their careers, and all police dog handlers will tell you that working with their furry friends is the best part of their day-to-day police work.

See you next time, CST Steve Holmes