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K9 Dog Training Tips

A k9 german shepherd standing with a police officer

K9 Dogs have a list of impressive skills that set them apart from the average dog. With their fierce work ethic and specialized training on their side, they are ready to take on any task that comes their way. So how do you mold a pup into a hard-working K9?

In this article, we’ll dive into what makes a K9 dog so incredible, and the best ways to help your dog become the K9 you know they can be!

What breeds make good K9s?

Since a K9 dog needs to be diligent with their training and skills, some breeds will excel more than others due to their ingrained traits. While every dog breed can be trained to fit the part, there are a few dog breeds that are known to fill the K9 role perfectly!

German Shepherds

German Shepherds are the most popular breed of K9 dogs. Their loyalty to the job and their impressive work ethic makes them the perfect fit for multiple working canine positions, including that of police K9s.

German Shepherds love to work and impress their favorite humans, making them a wonderful K9 partner to the police force. They will not stop until the job is done, which is likely why the German Shepherd is the most sought outbreed in police work.

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois are similar to German Shepherds when it comes to their popularity in K9 work. They also possess an impressive work ethic paired with unbreakable strength, making them an ideal candidate in police work.

Belgian Malinois have a long history in the US military and is still the most well-known canine in these positions. Belgian Malinois are intelligent, hard-working, and are willing to stand by their human in any situation!


Boxers are not as common in the U.S. as they are in Europe, but are still an impressive breed in multiple areas of K9 work. With their impressive physical abilities and easy-going personality, they make an obedient addition to any police force. 

The Boxer has served as a protector in military and police work for years on end and continues to shine in the canine field of work. They are fast learners, incredibly strong, and a loyal companion to have at your side. 

Labrador Retrievers 

Labrador Retrievers are the face of many prestigious canine positions. They are one of the most well known canine helpers in the business and continue to steal the show when it comes to helping their human companions.

Whether it's a position in police work, a service dog position, or even an emotional support pup; the Labrador Retriever is happy to fill the role. If you choose a Labrador retriever to train for any canine working position, you will certainly be impressed!

Beagles and Bloodhounds 

Though they may not be as physically fit as the previous breeds mentioned on the list, they have a sense of smell that is unmatched. These pups are known to be some of the best scent trackers around, making them a wonderful addition to any police force.

Beagles and Bloodhounds are often used in search and recovery missions, tracking suspects on the run, as well as being trained in specialty scent operations. These canines are known as the “big guns” when it comes to scent tracking.

What do trainers look for in K9 dogs?

A trainer and a rottweiler practicing training outside

K9 dogs possess traits that help them stand apart from the rest. These dogs are expected to excel in certain areas of obedience, helping them master their role in multiple areas of K9 work. Some of the traits that trainers look for in a K9 dog include:

  • Intelligence:  A strong mind is critical for a K9 dog, as they will be expected to make smart choices during stressful situations. Not only will they depend on their intelligence when it comes to learning new commands, but also when it’s time to make independent decisions during operations. 
  • Athleticism and stamina: K9 dogs will be expected to work long hours in certain situations. A K9 dog will often be on their feet for extended periods of time and may have to participate in long operations at their handlers' side during physically demanding jobs. 
  • Loyalty: One of the most important qualities of a K9 dog is their loyalty to their handler/owner. K9s will be expected to stand by their handler’s side and respond to orders in an instant, meaning loyalty is an essential trait that is needed or the job in order to keep both the dog and human safe. 

Tips For Training K9 Dogs

Once you’ve found the perfect pup to fill your K9 dog position, there are a few tips that will help your dog succeed in their training. Some helpful training tips for your K9 dog include:

  • Make it fun. Dogs are able to make the most of their training when they are having a good time. Enjoying the process helps them learn more, which means the lessons will stick when the dog has a positive correlation to the process.  
  • Learn what motivates the dog. Some dogs desire treats, some thrive on praise, and other dogs love a play session after training as a reward. Finding your dog’s motivation will help them enjoy the training process when they know their favorite treat or activity will follow. 
  • Reward small changes. Even the slightest indication that they’ve made positive steps should be rewarded to encourage them to do more. Rewarding each step of progress will help give our dog the desire to keep learning!
  • Breaks are essential. Dogs that are physically and mentally exhausted don’t learn anything and begin to resist training, so be sure to allow for relaxation and recharging.

Up the difficulty level each time the dog makes positive steps. When they show they’re getting used to something, add more.

  • Consistency and regularity are the most important aspects of training. Switching tactics during training will only confuse your dog, making it so important to stay consistent along the way. Be sure to train regularly at the same time every day, and for the same duration. A known schedule will help your dog form desirable habits that will stick with them from pup to K9 Unit. 

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Training Your K9

Training a K9 dog is a rewarding process that will set your pup up for working success! Be sure to review the tips we’ve listed above and your aspiring K9 will make a wonderful addition to any K9 unit!

Meet The Author 

Amber LaRock Author of Doberman Breed Guide

Amber LaRock

Vet Tech & Trainer

Amber is a Licensed Vet Tech with a degree in Veterinary Technology. Recently she has specialized in veterinary and animal-related content creation and social media management. When she is not working she loves spending time with her furry friends exploring the outdoors.

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