Police dogs have become important and integral members of many police forces around the world. Dogs working with police officers serve in a variety of jobs, including maintaining peace, preventing crimes, finding criminals, locating evidence, and locating missing persons. Police forces choose dogs carefully to ensure that the canines fit the correct parameters for service. Police also prioritize dog boarding arrangements to house and care for the law enforcement canines correctly.
History of Police Dogs
Dogs have been living with humans for thousands of years, since man discovered the value of dogs and how they can be helpful in a variety of situations. For example, man and dog make an effective hunting team because of the exemplary tracking abilities, keen vision, and fast running speed of many canine breeds. Eventually, law enforcement realized that the tracking abilities of dogs could be useful for finding criminals, evidence, and missing persons. During the 1970s in the United States, the use of dogs in police work became a regular occurrence.
Police Dog Breeds
Some dogs are better suited for police and military work than others. Bloodhounds, with their strong olfactory organs, have a long history of working as tracking dogs. Bloodhounds are not the only dogs that have been trained to track humans, however. German shepherds and Doberman pinschers also have adept tracking skills. Other police dog breeds include rottweilers, setters, pointers, retrievers, Airedales, and Rhodesian ridgebacks. Crossbreeding of these can also produce positive results. The mixed breed of Doberman pinscher and rottweiler is popular among police forces. Male and female dogs work equally well as police dogs.
Types of Police Dogs
Police dogs have a variety of specialties, including tracking, drug detection, bomb detection, crowd control, and cadaver location. Drug-detection dogs assist police with examination of vehicles, buildings, aircraft, luggage, and packages. Bomb-detection dogs can search the same locations and areas with the focus on finding bombs instead of drugs. Police may also use dogs to assist with crowd control. Just the presence of dogs at events tends to deter issues such as fighting. Cadaver dogs are trained to find human remains after crimes or disasters.
Dogs attend special classes to train them for police work. Applicants are screened carefully to ensure that every dog attending a program is a suitable candidate for this service. Training varies depending on the program. Most classes include positive reinforcement for desired behavior, negative correction for undesired behavior, and the use of food to reward dogs for cooperation. Training includes instruction in a variety of different areas. Dogs learn about obedience, evidence recovery, article search, suspect search, tracking, scouting, criminal apprehension, bite work for prey and defense, tactical deployment, and agility in confidence courses. Most dogs have a natural drive to please humans, and so they usually cooperate and work hard during training. Trainers use this natural drive to condition the animals into well-trained members of the police force.
Training may involve dog boarding to fully immerse the animal in the program. During the course, the canine will exist in a controlled environment to ensure the most effective learning. Part of the training involves placing dogs into chaotic and stressful situations to teach them how to respond correctly. Dogs also learn how to interact with other dogs so they don’t respond aggressively or even with too much friendliness. Learning to get along with other dogs neutrally enables police canines to do their work effectively. At the end of training, police dog graduates should be ready to handle their responsibilities and obey their handlers reliably.
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