The role of a police dog handler - Poliisiammattikorkeakoulu
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The role of a police dog handler
There are approximately 240 police dog handlers in Finland. A dog handler’s role differs fundamentally from other special police duties in that it involves working together with an animal. To work with dogs as smoothly as possible, a dog handler needs to be responsible and calm but also playful.
Dog patrols consist of a dog handler, dog and patrol officer. They perform varied tasks assigned them by the Emergency Response Centre and participate in police duties just as other patrols do. Additionally, the police use dogs in special duties such as situations involving the use of force and searching for narcotics or missing persons.
Police dogs are owned by the Police Dog Training Centre, which is also in charge of looking after their health. A dog handler is responsible for the training and competence of their dog. Working hours have been assigned for training and practice, but the dog handler primarily trains their dog in their spare time. Police dogs live with their handlers as a member of their family.
Dog handlers need to commit to their job for the long term, as they usually stay in their role until their dog reaches retirement age. Police dogs retire at the age of 10 and will usually also spend their retirement with their handler's family.
At its best, a dog handler’s work is a way of life that allows handlers to combine their work with their hobby.