How To Become A Cop

K9 Training - Becoming a K9 Cop

K9 is an abbreviation for Canine. K9 training equips an ordinary dog to be an extraordinary canine police officer. The term K9 was originally used in reference to war dogs in the military. War dogs go back thousands of years, and were used by the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Romans, among others. As war dogs, they were trained for use in combat. They were used primarily as scouts, trackers and sentries. They continue to be used even today in some capacities in modern military environments. At least 600 Military Working Dogs (MWD) have been utilized in recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The idea of a war dog was later carried over, and applied to police work, and the name was changed to police dogs, which was shortened to K9. K9 cops are trained police officers that have a dog for a partner. They go everywhere together.

There are a number of dog breeds used for police work. The most common K9 dogs used today for police work are the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd. The Malinois comes from the sheepdog family, and is a medium-sized square proportioned dog. It has a short mahogany coat with a black overlay. Its erect ears are black along with a black muzzle. In comparison to the German Shepherd, this dog has a square build. The temperament of a Malinois is active, friendly, protective and hard-working. Many of these dogs have an excessively high prey drive. If they aren’t provided enough exercise and stimulation, they can become destructive or develop neurotic behaviors. Being large, strong dogs, they require consistent obedience training. The Malinois enjoy being challenged with new tasks. Due to their high drive for rewards, they are known as being very easy to train for obedience.

Depending on what the police dog is used for, there are a number of other breeds used. One of the most common uses of police dogs is to chase down a fleeing suspect and hold him for officers, or to detain suspects from some action or threat. Other dogs that can be used for this purpose are the Akita Inu, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer, Doberman pincher, Dutch Shepherd, Rottweiler, and Schnauzer.

Police dogs used for illegal substance detection include the Beagle, Basset Hound, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Foxhound, Labrador Retriever, Sulimov Dog, Schnauzer, and the Weimaraner . These dogs often sit with their handlers in airports, sniffing passengers, from afar, for illegal substances they may be carrying in their luggage or carry-on items. These dogs are most commonly trained to detect, not only drugs, but also explosives. 

Tracking dogs are used for sniffing out trails of lost or missing persons or objects.  The best dogs for this purpose are the German Shepherd, Bloodhound, Coonhound, and Labrador Retrievers.

Dogs used to find corpses, or human remains have such sensitive noses that they can smell a body from under running water. These dogs include the Beagle, Bloodhound, and Labrador Retriever.

K9 dogs are highly trained dogs. But the training that takes place is a team effort. The handler, or K9 cop, must be trained alongside the dog to make sure they are totally compatible. This training is in addition to learning how to become a cop. The training program is normally a very intensive one. When K9 officers complete their training, they will be competent to function under almost all stressful and non-stressful law enforcement conditions. Both the dog and the handler (police officer) are watched carefully from day one of the training program to make sure they are totally compatible. If there is a compatibility issue, the dog may have to be replaced. This officer and dog will be a team, working together in a number of situations. A well trained K9 dog will take a bullet for their partner. Many have done this in the line of duty.

The K9 must be totally compliant to the officer’s commands. As with fellow patrol officers, canine teams require time to reach optimum efficiency. These dogs live with the handler, and become members of their family. As a family member, they require much attention. A canine must continue to receive regular training to perform efficiently. During K9 training, the handler comes to understand why obedience is the basis for all other training. They learn how to give the commands of Heel, Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Stand, Jump, Retrieve, No!!, Search, Speak, Watch, Bite, Out, Track, Search, Go Out, Good Dog, Crawl, and In the Car; both verbally and by hand signal. The K9 has already learned all of these words and commands in the language the officer will use. The K9 dog is completely obedient to his master’s voice. Together, they will become proficient in performing all needed exercises. The officer learns how to properly correct the K9 and that the canine must receive praise and reward.

There are a number of K9 training schools across the U.S. Some of the course work covered in these schools include: training in detecting narcotics, explosives, or accelerants; scent association; area search, article searches, and building searches; handler protection; apprehension; obedience; K9 care & first aid; K9 tactics and officer safety. Some dogs are trained for search and rescue. Many schools also offer annual refresher courses.

Duties of K9 Cops

The duties of K9 cops will depend on the type of police dog with which the officer is paired. As with any police officer, he is first and foremost an officer whose task is to ensure the safety of the community. If the police officer is paired with a dog to enforce public order, then he will act as a regular cop and use his dog to pursue and detain suspects. If the police officer is paired with a tracking dog, such as a bloodhound, he may end up working missing-persons cases, using the dog's acute sense of smell to pick up the missing person's trail. A police officer who is paired with an illicit-substances dog, may work at an airport or at a border patrol. If the officer is paired with a cadaver dog, the cop may end up working as a detective, trying to solve a missing person case. These dogs are trained to pick up the scent of decomposed tissue.

Since the K9 lives with its handler 24 x 7, the police officer must take complete care of his/her partner. That includes proper feeding and grooming of his K9 partner. It also includes providing a proper kennel, or dog house for his or her canine partner to live in. If you need some dog house plans for your K9 friend, check this out. K9 training is an ongoing process that never ends.


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