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Basic Police Dog Training

The basic training of patrol dogs, the so-called ordinary police dogs, consists of five areas: obedience, use of force, tracking, search for persons or objects and crime scene search. Additionally, we train patrol dogs in one special training subject.

Police dogs are trained through positive reinforcement. The dogs' health and well-being are the starting point for training, and no methods based on coercion or pain are accepted. 

Two police officers and a police dog walking in the woods, with a police car in the background.

 

Obedience

Training is not about teaching the dogs circus tricks – it is about controlling the dog in various situations that may be encountered in police work. The dog must be under its handler’s control, and its handler must be able to direct it in different situations. Using the dog must never get in the way of other police work.

Obedience includes getting the dog to sit, lie down, stay and separate at the handler’s command. The dog must perform all the handler’s commands willingly and precisely. Additionally, the dog must be social, get along with other dogs and work well in a group.

Use of force

Use-of-force training is preparation for using the dog as a non-lethal weapon.

The dog must be under the handler's control at all times and attack and release at command. After training the dog in the basics, further training will mimic real police tasks indoors and outdoors.

Tracking

The purpose of tracking is to locate a specific person by following the ground scent of their tracks. We teach the dog to follow a specific trail in varying conditions and locations, under disruptive circumstances and on many different surfaces: rough terrain, indoors and in urban areas. The dog also learns to indicate items left behind by the person being tracked.

In suitable conditions conditions, dogs can even track very old scents. In unfavorable conditions, though, a scent may only linger for tens of minutes. Because of this, only continuous practice in varying conditions can enable the dog to perform at its best.

A police dog waiting on the ground and looking at the police officer in front of it. In the background is a police car.

 

Search for persons

A dog can search even a large area relatively quickly. We train dogs to move through an area according to their handlers’ commands, search for the missing person and alert searchers of the discovery by barking. During a search, a dog uses all its senses, but its sense of smell is the most important.

The environments dogs can search include rough terrain, buildings and rubble. In training, dogs learn to search for both people who are in sight and people who are hidden from sight.

We also train all patrol dogs for search and rescue and searching for missing persons. Some police dogs also receive training in searching for people who have been buried under snow.

Object and crime scene search

Dogs search for objects based on the scent the objects give off, which, in practice, means following the scent of whoever has touched the object. We teach dogs to search for all manner and size of objects, such as cartridge cases. The dog will alert searchers of its find as it was trained to do: by lying or sitting down, standing still or barking.