Police dog : Training and Early history

A police dog, known in some is a dog that is specifically trained to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel. Their duties include: searching for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, finding crime scene evidence, and attacking people targeted by the police. Police dogs must remember several verbal cues and hand gestures.

The most commonly used breeds are the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Bloodhound, Dutch Shepherd, and Retriever breeds.

Recently, the Belgian Malinois has become the dog of choice for police and military work due to their intense drive and focus. Malinois are smaller and more agile than German Shepherds, and have fewer health issues.

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However, a well-bred working line German shepherd is just as reliable and robust as a Malinois

In many countries, the intentional injuring or killing of a police dog is a criminal offence

Early history

Dogs have been used in law enforcement since the Middle Ages. Wealth and money was then tithed in the villages for the upkeep of the parish constable’s bloodhounds that were used for hunting down outlaws. In France, dogs were used in the 14th century in St. Malo.

Bloodhounds used in Scotland were known as “Slough dogs” – the word “Sleuth”, (meaning detective) was derived from this.

The rapid urbanization of London in the 19th century increased public concern regarding growing lawlessness – a problem that was far too great to be dealt with by the existing law enforcement of the time.

As a result, private associations were formed to help combat crime. Night watchmen were employed to guard premises, and were provided with firearms and dogs to protect themselves from criminals.

Modern era

Bloodhounds used by Sir Charles Warren to track down the serial killer Jack The Ripper in the 1880s.

German shepherd in use by Schutzpolizei officer and SA auxiliary during the German federal election, March 1933, shortly after the Nazi seizure of power
One of the first attempts to use dogs in policing was in 1889 by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police of London, Sir Charles Warren.

Warren’s repeated failures at identifying and apprehending the serial killer Jack the Ripper had earned him much vilification from the press, including being denounced for not using bloodhounds to track the killer. a police search to find them.
t was in Continental Europe that dogs were first used on a large scale. Police in Paris began using dogs against roaming criminal gangs at night, but it was the police department in Ghent, Belgium that introduced the first organized police dog service program in 1899.

These methods soon spread to Austria-Hungary and Germany; in the latter the first scientific developments in the field took place with experiments in dog breeding and training. The German police selected the German Shepherd Dog as the ideal breed for police work and opened up the first dog training school in 1920 in Greenheide.

Training

Training of police dogs is a very lengthy process since it begins with the training of the canine handler. The canine handlers go through a long process of training to ensure that they will train the dog to the best of its ability.

First, the canine handler has to complete the requisite police academy training and one to two years of patrol experience before becoming eligible to transfer to a specialty canine unit. This is because the experience as an officer allows prospective canine officers to gain valuable experience in law enforcement.

However, having dog knowledge and / or training outside of the police academy is considered to be an asset, this could be dog obedience, crowd control, communicating effectively with animals and being approachable and personable since having a dog will draw attention from surrounding citizens.

For a dog to be considered for a police department, it must first pass a basic obedience training course. They must be able to obey the commands of their handler without hesitation. This allows the officer to have complete control over how much force the dog should use against a suspect.

Dogs trained in Europe are usually given commands in the country’s native language. Dogs are initially trained with this language for basic behavior, so, it is easier for the officer to learn new words/commands, rather than retraining the dog to new commands.

This is contrary to the popular belief that police dogs are trained in a different language so that a suspect cannot command the dog against the officer.

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