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Police Dog Training: How are Police Dogs Trained 2022

Table of Contents

German Shepherd in the back of a K9 police car

Police dog training covers many responsibilities and usually, each dog has a specialization like a drug and explosive searching, or just a patrol K9. These dogs all have the same drive and intelligence that put them ahead of the rest and this is due to the training and the bond with their handlers. But it is not all on the dogs, the handlers must know what they are doing as well.

Bloodhound on a park bench

Like every working dog, the police K9 units require beginner obedience training while still young and probably do this and other service dog training for the whole first year slowly adding in public setting training to make sure the dogs can handle distractions. This is to set a good foundation that trainers and handlers can work on to mold their dog into any specialization that may be required.  

Different Types of Police Dog Training

There are different specialized needs for certain dogs that make them suitable for what scenarios they will face. Often times the dogs don't learn multiple due to the complexity of each specific job but excel at a single specialization.  

Police Patrol

Belgian malinois next to its partner and a police cruiser

These dogs are on the streets as an additional unit. Patrol dogs obtain police dog training in many aspects of day to day police life from finding suspects to protecting their officer and subduing criminals. The ultimate protection service dog, these guys go above and beyond to help whatever force they are assigned to. Along with the protection and apprehension training, these dogs are often trained to find any drugs that may be present meaning they get narcotic scent training as well.

Drug Detection Dogs

German Shepherd on duty with a black lead

Trained for one thing and one thing only these dogs learn how to find any kind of narcotics. Their training is tough and requires being able to distinguish different kinds of drugs while avoiding getting blinded if another smell takes over. These dogs could smell narcotics even if you were cooking a steak right next to them making them an effective detection dog.

Bomb Detection Dogs

German Shepherd playing with its leather lead in an airport

Bomb dogs are very strict when it comes to scent detection as there are more than 10,000 different smells they must learn that are associated with explosives. On top of this, they are trained in a 10-week extensive course which does not seem like a lot of time for that many smells. This dedication makes them pros at what they do and their noses are the best tool for the job.

Scent tracking dogs

Pack of bloodhounds on the trail of a scent

This highly trained group of dogs learn the ins and outs of tracking suspects that are hiding or that have possibly fled along with missing person reports. There are many situations that call for these dogs and they are very good at finding people. Often associated with bloodhounds these dogs, that search for hours if not days find people based on their scent and follow tiny scent trails to get to them. As you could imagine a lot goes into training these dogs and it is for good reason.

Where to Train

German Shepherd being trained to heel

Police dog training that is used by the force usually come from one of two places, either a private training facility that specializes in this field or the police force has their own trainers on site. After the dog goes through this training it is paired with the handler that will be with the dog almost 24/7 from here on. These handlers also need to be trained on how the dog was trained and how to handle it to be the most effective in the field. This does not mean you can't train your dog to do these specialized tasks, there are protection dogs that specialize in basic patrol dog protection and are often times either home trained or trained by professionals for civilians.


Tips to Help Train from the Professionals

German Shepherd on a sunny day in a grass field
  • Make it fun! If the dogs aren't enjoying it they won't retain as much.
  • Use what is proven to motivate your dog if it’s treats use treats if its toys use toys.
  • Make sure your dog isn't overworked, they are dogs for crying out loud.
  • Be consistent but don't have patterns, train at the same time every day but not the same thing every day.
  • Introduce challenges, this will make sure your dog has the command down.
  • End in a success never on a failed command, this will make for a more fulfilling period.

Police K9 training never stops as trainers and dogs must renew their training all the time and keep up commands and scent training as to not become lessened. In the end, these are still dogs that need love, companionship, treats, and toys. The police force gives them these and is rewarded with partners unlike anything else.


Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.



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