Dogs are our greatest companions. They come in all sizes, from small and cuddly to large and lumbering. Most people keep them as pets, and they gradually become trusted friends and even members of the family.
In many cases, dogs are used as service animals. Originally, some of the larger dogs were specifically bred and trained as pack animals. Dogs have been used for centuries to track animals and hunt game. These days, just about everyone is familiar with seeing-eye dogs.
Dogs have also taken part in the effort to solve crime and ensure safety for citizens. Law enforcement officers are lucky to have these dogs.
Police Canine Breeds
Such a tough, dangerous job takes a certain breed of animal. While most dogs have the instincts to hunt and track, only a handful of dogs are well-suited to help law enforcement officers. A few of the most common are German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, and bloodhounds.
The main attributes that a police dog requires are aggression, intelligence, physical strength, and sense of smell. Most importantly, these dogs must be easy to train, whether it’s housebreaking with a UgoDog indoor dog potty or training to track specific scents. German shepherds feature all of these attributes, making them a well-rounded dog for all K-9 duties.
Labradors are also incredibly intelligent, strong, and active. However, Labs are mainly trained to sniff out drugs and other illicit substances.
Bloodhounds are highly intelligent and were originally used to track and hunt game. Known to have amazing noses, bloodhounds are probably the best trackers in the canine world. This reliable breed is commonly used to track missing persons or objects.
Police Dog Training
As with regular canine training, training to become a police dog occurs at a very young age. By the time a dog is ready for police K-9 training, it has received proper house training with the UgoDog indoor dog potty.
· First, all police dogs must go through basic obedience training. They have to obey their handler’s instructions immediately and without hesitation. This helps keep the dog’s aggression in check and allows the officer to control the amount of force the dog uses
Dogs trained in Europe are only given commands in their “native language.” Although many would assume this is a means of deceiving suspects, it’s actually just how the dogs are trained. A police dog trained with Dutch or German instructions will only understand Dutch or German commands.
· Police dogs also have to pass basic endurance and agility training. Climbing stairs, jumping over walls—a police dog should be able to do it all. K-9 dogs also have to acclimate to city life. After all, they should be comfortable around people.
· Once the dog has received basic training, he will proceed to specialty training, which is where they learn to sniff out drugs or weapons, track missing persons, enforce public order, or perform other K-9 duties.
Police Dogs: Drug Training
It’s often assumed that drug sniffing dogs seek out drugs as food or are themselves addicted to that drug. In actuality, drug sniffing dogs are wholly uninterested in drugs, as food or otherwise. When looking for drugs, these dogs are actually seeking their favorite toy. During training, the dog learns to associate the toy with the smell of drugs.
To begin the training, the handler essentially just plays with the dog and its favorite toy—which is usually nothing more than a white towel. A towel is just the easiest to use for this specific training; besides, dogs seem to love playing tug-of-war with a towel.
During training, the towel itself has been washed to remove any possible scent. Soon, the handler rolls up a bag of marijuana into the towel. After some time, the dog starts to recognize the smell of marijuana as the smell of his toy.
Once the dog has made this association, the handler hides the towel with the drugs in various locations. When the dog catches a whiff of the drugs, he will proceed to dig and scratch in order to get to his toy. He soon learns that sniffing out the drugs leads to a reward of playtime and tug-of-war.
As training progresses, different drugs are placed inside the towel until the police dog can successfully recognize the scents of numerous drugs.
Police dogs might have to go through more rigorous training than your average pup, but for them, it’s all in a day’s work. And don’t worry—they get plenty of love along the way.