Law enforcement isn’t the easiest job out there. It’s tough enough for a human to wear the badge, but imagine what it’s like for the many dogs that wear one too. Police dogs are trained to detect narcotics, explosives and even respond to dangerous situations like riots, fights and even armed aggressors; it’s pretty difficult ground for a being that primarily chases Frisbees and cuddles on the couch with you as you watch your favorite show. Today, we’ll be taking a deeper look at these courageous dogs that make up the K9 police service units spread out over North America and the world.
What does it take to become a K9 police dog handler? Read on to find out…
A brief history and origins of K9 police
Interestingly enough, dogs have been involved in law enforcement since the middle ages, according to Wikipedia. Think about it…if they’re good for hunting, then they must be good at catching a criminal, right?
It was in the 14th century that these police dogs were used as guards, actually guarding docks and such and other areas in which a sentry was needed.
In their most notorious case, police dogs were actually used in the search and investigation in the search of the world’s most famous serial killer, Jack The Ripper. On Wikipedia, there are actual photos of those dogs in action…actually on the hunt for the infamous madman. Yikes!
In their earliest beginnings, police dogs were primarily bloodhounds, which were also used in hunting circles for generations and still are.
The training involved
The training of police service dogs is in fact quite intensive. It is extensive also for what is known as the handler—the human who guides the dog and is partnered with them. The bond between the handler and the dog is one that cannot ever be broken and should not.
The handler has to have trained officially as a police officer and clocked in at least two years of patrol before he or she can even be considered for the K9 handler position of any respective police force.
It is recommended that the handler also have experience dealing with animals or specifically dogs for quite a while. So in the end, having multiple dogs or volunteering at the animal shelter when in school can indeed help wonders if this is a career you want to consider down the line, or if your kids express an interest.
As for the K9s themselves, the training should be easy enough if the handler is on point and knows what he or she is doing. Love, affection and an authoritative voice when needed, go a long way, which is of course the case when training any dog for obedience. The added feature here is the service factor…getting the dog to react to dangerous situations and face those situations head on and without hesitance.
Interestingly enough, these dogs are trained to attack assailants, they are made to go through obstacle courses, pull people from burning buildings or other man made or natural disaster situations and most of all, they are trained to be there, reliable until the end.
There are also specific reasons a dog will be trained and be trained for specific tasks, and not all K9 police unit dogs are exactly the same nor have the same training or tasks once they graduate.
They can be trained for one purpose or many purposes and situations vary from unit to unit, dog to dog. Requirements in particular areas is key here. For example if an area is prone to riots, well then the dogs in such a unit would be trained to handle riots and unruly citizens, and so on and so forth.
Cases of PTSD
There have even been some cases of these dogs having post traumatic stress and all because of the job. Hey, it can happen to anyone. Seeing crime day in and day out or going through a very challenging situation…one can tire, or at least their subconscious mind can tire of such excursions day in , day out…and one day the mind just quits, and wants no more part of the life he or she has or had been living.
Well, this can happen to animals as well, and police dogs are of course at risk of that as well. This perhaps is also why the bond between handler and dog is so important.
Popular breeds of dog used in law enforcement
And really these dogs are used the world-over and have been used in such a capacity for years, as stated above. Interestingly enough such dogs have been trained for service even on a military level across the globe.
Popular breeds of dogs used specifically for police and military purposes include: Border Collie, Croatian Sheep Dog, German Shorthaired Pointer, the Golden Retriever, that Rottweiler, the Labrador Retriever, the Bloodhound of course and of course the German Shepherd, which is probably the most used and most popular breed of dog used on the police force.
And of course there are indeed many more breeds used.
London, Ontario police force certify new class of dogs
And it was in a beautiful tweet sent out by the London police department in London, Ontario, Canada, that it was announced that a class of German Shepherd dogs had received their certification and were now ready to get on the job with their respective handlers, these dogs specializing in general patrol and explosive detection. We here at Dog O’ Day congratulate Carbon, Koda, Carl and Ryker. Stay safe out there, graduates.
Any first-person interactions with the furry side of law enforcement or service dogs in general? Let us know about your K9 police experiences below.