How do dogs help the police?

Despite being adorable, police dogs have some of the toughest occupations in the canine world.

Dogs have been an important part of the fight against crime for centuries. There are a number of crucial jobs for the K-9 units, including both general-purpose and specialist work. General-purpose dogs are very often breeds such as German shepherds and Belgian malinois. These are strong, capable and intelligent animals that can be quite intimidating if the job requires it! These dogs train hard to be able to find property and people, using their nose to search for things such as firearms or tracking suspects,
as well as undertaking criminal work involving apprehending suspects under the control of their handler.
Specialist dogs undertake tasks such as searching for explosives, drugs, cash and cadavers. The breeds for this type of work are often dogs with excellent scenting abilities. 

As with any working dog, the bond with their handler is paramount. In the high-risk situations that police dogs work in, the handler needs absolute trust in the dog, so obedience and agility training is essential. As well as working together, dog and handler will live together, too, and many retired police dogs remain as much-loved family pets once their time fighting crime in the name of the law is over.

Teaching the basics

1. Guidance

Physically show the dog what you need it to do. For example, place your hand on its back and guide it to sit. Accompany this with a command, and then once the dog achieves it reward with plenty of praise and tasty treats.

2. Luring

If in doubt, treat to snout! Lure your pooch with a tasty morsel and show him the behaviour you need with the treat in your hand. Let the dog follow the treat and then reward and repeat.

3. Capturing

Wait until your dog does the thing you want. For example, when he sits of his own accord, accompany this with a sit command then follow immediately with a click from a clicker and a delicious treat!

This article was originally published in How It Works issue 103, written by Ella Carter

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