Dogs are the first domesticated animals known in human history. For centuries they have proven to be the most loyal, faithful, and understanding canine friend to humans. Police Dogs assist humans with a variety of jobs, many of which would not be feasible without them. From herding sheep to just being a companion, dogs have proven their worth as human beings’ best friends.
Animals have been used as service aides for the blind since the 16th century, and by the 1970s, dog trainers had devised strategies for dogs to assist people with impairments.
As if these responsibilities and hard work were not enough, these canines also assist in sniffing the crime, and so with the potential, and trainability traits of specific dog breeds, dogs were trained to work as police dogs.
These dogs have a strong bond with humans that many can sacrifice their own lives to save a human.
For ages, canines have been utilized as police companions and coworkers, and they may be used to track down criminals and detect narcotics and explosives. Still, a question arises, when did humans get this notion of domesticating them in this way?
The history of police dogs goes back to the Romans and the early 20th century. During the domestication of dogs, Romans used them for hunting and security purposes.
The Spanish conquistadors utilized canines as warriors in conflicts for scent, scouting, patrolling, and messenger duties. Dogs were used extensively in combat back then.
When we dip our toes in the history of dog police, the case of searching “Jack the Ripper” in 1888 England is very significant as the police force accompanied bloodhounds.
Over the period of 100 years, there have been crucial cases throughout the world that prove the excellence of dogs in law enforcement.
Soon in 1899, Belgium started training dogs for enforcement which made it more widespread. By 1910 Germany had trained police dogs in their most significant cities.
In 1938 in South London, two labrador retrievers were trained to join the Metropolitan Police Force to accompany the officials. The U.S started training dogs for law enforcement by 1970.
Nowadays, known ask-9, the use of police dogs is known worldwide and practised in many different countries, for example, Peru, India, Japan, Australia, etc.
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Are police dogs different from house dogs?
Traits of Police Dogs
When it comes to police dogs, trainers seek certain characteristic features in them. Unfortunately, not all types of dog breeds possess the ability to be trained as police dogs. Some of the traits are:
- Alertness – In order to carry out their duties properly, working dogs should be conscious of their environment and ready to bounce into action immediately when needed.
- Obedience – Police canines must be able to follow their handler’s orders consistently. If a dog is obedient and easy to teach, he’ll be an excellent candidate for law enforcement.
- Devotion and bond – For the partnership to succeed, police dogs must be passionately devoted to their handlers. A handler and their police dog must have a close relationship
- Agility – Law enforcement dogs must be agile and capable of navigating various terrain types. They must also be able to work in confined quarters and other environments that people would find challenging to navigate.
- Work ethics – Police dogs should have superior work ethics as their demands and needs are different from a family dog. In addition, the conditions they are going to work in will be far different from that of a stay-at-home dog.
- Physical strength – A police dog has to perform duties like patrolling, seizing a culprit, or rescuing a person, which needs extra build and strength. Therefore, these dogs must be strong enough to handle the given job with ease and adequate strength.
- Intelligence- Police dogs must be highly trainable and eager to obey instructions even when they are under hardships. This generally means that these dogs must be particularly clever in order to carry out their duty without fail.
Duties Performed by Police Dogs
Their job requires particular tasks to be performed. Some of them are:
- Locating narcotics
- Locating explosives
- Locating missing persons
- Locating crime scenes
The primary responsibility of a security patrol dog is to assist in the protection of the area they are guarding while standing beside their handler and obeying directions.
These dogs obey their owners’ and handlers’ every instruction while keeping an eye out for any threats to their defending property.
Their primary goal is to keep people safe while also assisting their owners and handlers in avoiding danger.
Which Dog Breeds Are Best for Law Enforcement?
It’s essential to keep in mind that each dog is unique and should be assessed for police work individually.
While obtaining a breed that has already been used for police work may be beneficial, a large part of a police dog’s competence may be attributed to the quality of their training. This implies that a dog’s breed is simply one factor to consider.
1. Labrador Retriever
worldwide famous for their friendly personality, Labradors are all-purpose dogs. They are ideal for law enforcement as they are obedient and intelligent, mostly enlisted and trained to track things like explosives and narcotics, support the blind, and participate in search and rescue.
2. German Shepherd
Due to their loyal and loving temperament and diligent attitude, German shepherds are among the most popular canines among pet owners and police agencies. These canines are also highly trainable, making them ideal for a wide range of police work and specialities.
3. Doberman Pinscher
These canines are eager to please their owners and have the brains to back up their good looks. As members of the working group, these canines require a lot of mental and physical activity during the day. As a result, working with a police squad might be a fantastic fit for these canines if they are adequately trained.
Due to their excellent sense of smell, bloodhounds were among the first canines used in police enforcement. Please don’t get fooled by their looks; bloodhounds enjoy working, making them good police dogs.
These muscularly built dogs are affectionate and devoted to their handlers. They are courageous and exude a serene assurance that makes them well-suited to carrying out their responsibilities in high-pressure situations.
These adorable dogs have a childish mentality that will require sustained, regular training sessions to maintain their skill set. Boxers have a long history of being swift guard dogs, making them ideal for police work.
Police dog training involves a wide range of duties, and each dog often has a speciality, such as narcotics and bomb detection, or is just a patrol K9.
Because of their training and relationship with their handlers, these dogs have the same desire and intellect that puts them ahead of the competition.
But before they get promoted to their respective duties, they have to go through intense training.
Obedience and Bonding
Training a police dog is almost like raising a toddler. The police dogs, like any other working dog, require basic obedience training while still young.
Then, at a tender age of about 6-7 weeks, they are brought to their handlers, where they go through basic tests, after which obedience training starts.
This is to lay a solid foundation for trainers and handlers to build on as they develop their dogs into whatever speciality is desired.
Training from an early age and the time spent together ensures a solid and unbreakable bond between the dog and his handler.
Endurance and Agility
After obedience training as they grow up, endurance and agility training is given to toughen them for the worst situations. The training helps them to build their muscle mass, making them strong and more fearless.
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How Are Dogs Trained to Sniff Out Drugs?
The fact is that drugs are entirely unappealing for dogs. It’s their favourite toy that they’re seeking. They’ve learned to link that toy with the scent of narcotics due to their training.
Most commonly, a towel is used as a toy in this process that has been well cleansed to ensure that it has no odour. The handler lets the dog play with it for a while and is given a reward.
A bag of drugs is then folded up and placed inside the cloth. After a time of playing, the dog begins to associate the scent of the drug with that of his favourite toy.
The handlers then hide the drug in the towel at various places. When the dog detects it, he digs and claws in an attempt to retrieve his toy.
He quickly learns that he will be rewarded if he sniffs out the smell of narcotics. As the dog’s training advances, additional drugs are added to the towel until it can detect various illicit substances.
The same strategy is used to detect explosives, and the difference is that in place of drugs, chemicals are used to manufacture the explosives.
With each day, difficulties are increased to ensure that the dog memorizes the maximum number of odours.
The Sense of Smell Is Unmatchable
Search and Rescue
Dogs can even find things based on a trail as small as a molecule. Search and rescue training is given by people lying down or hidden in places that serve as markers.
The dog is tasked with locating the individual. When they locate the individual, they are rewarded with treats or their favourite toy.
With each day, more hurdles, harsh environments, and well-hidden places are introduced for the dog.
They are also taught to give signals when they find abandoned items, for example, bags, clothes, or other items that people have worn.
They show it by standing on the location and barking and, they are constantly rewarded for their findings.
- German Shepherds were deployed in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
- Police dogs retire at the age of 7-8 years. The rest of their life is spent at home with their adoptive family, but it’s their handler in most cases.
- Every year, a well-trained police canine may save between 600 and 1000 hours of the workforce.
- Some police dogs are given titanium teeth for a variety of reasons, including biting and replacing natural teeth that have been damaged during work.
Training never stops because trainers and dogs must constantly update their skills and stay up with orders and scent training to avoid becoming rusty.
Finally, these dogs require affection, company, treats, and toys. The police department provides them with such, and they are rewarded with companions unlike any other.
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