5 Things To Know About Police K9 Training
A K9 dog is a crucial member of any police force. They not only patrol and sniff out bombs, bodies and narcotics, but they also protect the dog owner. Because of this, K9 police dog training is obviously much different than traditional obedience training for your pet. It is intensive and there are many required expenses, including police K9 equipment and time-involved maintenance training.
If you or your police department are considering purchasing and training a K9 dog, there are some vital things you should know first.
1. There Are Essential K9 Dog Traits
Not every dog is cut out to be a police dog. There are a few necessary traits depending on how the dog will be used within the force. In addition to being alert, calm, obedient and smart, a future K9 should have the following traits.
-A keen sense of smell
-No sensitivity to loud noises
-Comfortable walking on various surfaces
-A sociable temperament
2. Police K9 Training Is An Investment
You should understand that training police dogs is not cheap. In fact, for full training in hard surface tracking, patrol work and detection, you’re looking at anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000 per dog, depending on the length and extensiveness of each class. Plus, you have to continually train and keep your dog’s skills sharp on a monthly basis.
Training a police dog requires care, time and a lot of hard work. Make sure whoever will be the K9 handler, as well as your entire force, is willing to take on the responsibility that comes with owning a K9.
3. K9 Dog Training Encompasses A Lot, Including Obedience Training
If you’ve decided to get your K9 trained as opposed to purchasing an already-trained K9, obedience training and socialization will be the first step. When training a police dog, they should be able to sit, stay, come and go on command (on and off a leash). These foundational skills will only help your dog down the road when going through more specialized police dog training.
During K9 dog training, your puppy will be tested under rigorous and stressful situations. In the field, your dog will need to be able to perform their duties with limited guidance and in loud, chaotic environments. Thus, these noises and scenarios will be incorporated into your dog’s training simulations.
While some K9s are trained to serve a single purpose with one sole task to perform, others can be trained as dual-purpose K9s to handle a multitude of tasks. But on average, police K9s are dedicated to one specific job as multi-purpose training can be extremely complex.
Skill training is usually broken up into a few courses. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:
-Patrol, specifically control, tactical obedience, area and building search, gunfire and apprehension.
-Scent tracking until a scent is untraceable. This can include human scent, ecological smells and reinforcing scents.
-Narcotics detection, including cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines.
-Bomb or explosives detection in concealed vehicles, lockers, luggage, open areas and packages.
-In some cases, dogs can even learn scent discrimination to help match a potential suspect to a crime scene item.
Throughout police dog training, your pup will be evaluated and tested. If at any point your dog doesn’t pass, they will not move forward in the program.
During training, be sure to keep things fun and find out what motivates your dog (treats, toys, etc.). Dogs are just like people; if they get overworked, they can experience burnout and won’t retain the skills they’ve been taught.
4. Regular Maintenance Training is a Must
So, how long does a police dog take to train? This is a trick question because, in reality, K9 training never really ends. When your initial K9 dog training is completed, it doesn’t mean that you and your dog are done. In fact, you’ve only just begun. The K9 dog and handler both must continue to train on a regular basis, sharpening skills and learning new methods. While federal recommendations suggest 16 hours of maintenance training per month, most agencies practice and train much more frequently than this.
Speaking to POLICE Magazine, Mike Johnson, president of the American Police Canine Association, explained that it’s an ongoing educational process that people in the field will continue as long as they carry a dog. “It never stops just when they get out of handler school,” Johnson said. “That’s when their education is started.”
“It’s an ongoing educational process that people in this field will continue as long as they carry a dog.”– Mike Johnson, American Police Canine Association president, speaking to POLICE Magazine
As training is a regular aspect of owning a K9, it’s vital that you avoid building in mistakes. The best way to do this is to train with other handlers and K9s. This allows everybody to keep an eye on each other and catch potential mistakes before they become ingrained in your training. It also allows handlers the opportunity to learn to work together effectively, getting comfortable with giving commands to other K9s if ever needed.
Police K9 training should always be documented. If you are missing training documentation, it has the potential to discredit the use of a K9 and could possibly impede or endanger an ongoing case or investigation.
5. The Right Equipment Can Make All The Difference
Police dog training methods sometimes require specialized equipment. And the right high-quality equipment can make a world of difference when training and controlling your K9.
Recommended Police K9 Training Equipment
The list of police dog equipment that you can use to train your K9 is endless. But there are some highly recommended pieces of equipment that you’ll want to use. Please note that this list is in no way exhaustive.
–Dog Bite Suits. Tactical bite suits and sleeves provide proper protection for ongoing training. This tactical gear is made from high-quality materials like jute, leather and French linen in order to guarantee your safety during training sessions.
–Police Dog Collars. Your K9 collar needs to be able to hold up against constant activity and elevated wear and tear. Look for police dog collars in durable materials like nylon, leather and steel.
–Dog Leashes. Leashes and leads allow you to control and direct your K9 when out in the field. Options range from hands-free leashes to leather bridge handles to nylon tracking lines.
–K9 Dog Harnesses & Vests. Training/patrol harnesses and vests should provide your dog with comfort, movement control and functionality. Look for high-quality harnesses and vests that are sturdy and versatile, creating a second skin for your K9.
–Dog Tugs & Bite Pillows. A tug is a vital tool for drive and retrieve skill-building. And bite pillows allow you and your dog to work on precision bite training, increasing accuracy in bite work. Products are typically made of jute, leather, French linen or fire hose.
–K9 Muzzles. Muzzles are used on both trained and untrained police dogs to keep them from biting or opening their mouth. They typically include a fastening device to ensure they don’t accidentally come off. They’re typically made of leather, nylon or plastic.
Shop Active Dogs For Police K9 Training Equipment
Active Dogs offers a wide selection of active-duty K9 training equipment to choose from. We understand how important it is to keep both you and your dogs safe during rigorous K9 dog training; it’s why we sell only the best in police K9 training equipment and supplies. If you have a question or need additional information about our selection of K9 equipment, contact our customer service department today.