The K9 position is a very interesting position to work in. A good K9 handler must be extremely flexible in his thinking, be able to make decisions immediately, and be dedicated to the position more than what is required of most normal positions within the department. The hours of work are long and arduous and frequently interfere with family expectations. The K9 position is a very unique position to work in.
Some breeders begin testing and training puppies when they are six weeks old. When a dog is first accepted by a force to be their next k9 officer, the initial patrol training might take several weeks. Narcotic or Detective School usually takes three to four weeks. Only a small percentage of the general population of k9s have the mental and physical capability and attitude to be an officer on the force. In America, a majority of dog breeders only breed dogs for pets or show purposes and not as work dogs. The k9 is required to pass a test of endurance and agility. The dog must be able to jump over walls and climb stairs. The dogs are taught how to be acclimated to city life so they won’t get jumpy or scared. Finally, each dog receives specialty training. Many dogs are trained to search for drugs, bombs, and guns. They can also track missing people or suspects.
Only a small portion of the dog population is suited for training as police dogs, whether it be for patrol, scent, or detection. The dogs have to show a level of confidence, and an effective hunting drive to be considered. Dogs with an effective hunting drive, desire the need to chase moving objects and to carry and seek out hidden objects. Most organizations prefer to use four dog breeds: German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and Labradors/Retrievers. German Shepherds, Malinois, and Dutch Shep. herds are valued because of their strength, intelligence, teachability, and obedience. Labradors and Retrievers are even-tempered and well-behaved. They are also athletic and playful.
The officer and his dog go through weeks of early training together, during which they not only learn to work together as a team. But before long, they develop a partnership. It’s often an equal partnership, as well as two friends keeping each other company, on and off duty. K9 officers and their dogs have been shot together in the line of duty. Together, the K9 officer and his dog perform daily duties that save many lives. “The bond that a k-9 and his handler develop is incredible and k-9 will protect, serve, and die for the handler. The only thing the k-9 asks for, in return, is compassion, a kind word, and love.”
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- “So, You Want to Be a K-9 Handler?” PoliceOne. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2017
- “The Relationship Between K9 Officers and Their Dogs.” Cuteness.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.
- “How Police Dogs Work.” HowStuffWorks. N.p., 03 May 2004. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.