K9 police dog training starts when the dog is still a young puppy. Certain breeds of dogs such as German Shepherds or Malinois are genetically wired for protection and patrolling tasks. (Labradors and Bloodhounds are naturally more talented for tasks such as searching and detection of certain goods ie: drugs, bombs).
The personality of the puppy is another factor to take into account when choosing a dog to train as a police dog. Police dogs must be alert, calm, obedient and smart.
Once a puppy is chosen, then obedience training and socialization is critical. Those basic aspects have to be firmly in place when the puppy is growing. The puppy must be able to sit, stay, come and go down on command, both on and off-leash. At each step of K9 dog training, the puppy will be evaluated to see if it has passed the test. If he does not pass, then he won’t move forward into the full training program.
That full training program includes a wide variety of tests in numerous different situations. Dogs must be able to perform their duties under stress, in loud chaotic environments and sometimes with minimum guidance. Therefore, their training involves simulations that are done over and over and over again. Guns are fired, fake bad boys start running away as if trying to escape, doors are banged and cars are screeched, etc. As with any dog training, the training sessions for K9 dogs are made as fun as possible, so that all this important preparatory work for his often hazardous job is experienced as a game by the dog. Fun training keeps the dog from losing interest or from getting burned out.
Training for police dogs never stops. When they are not actually on patrol, they are training all the time, so they are constantly ready for that day when their special skills will be needed. The dogs generally live with their masters, so their partnership is continually forged. Over and over again, this bond and in-depth training has shown incredible results when a police dog hunts down a suspect, finds a bomb in a public area or saves his partner’s life with his specialized skills and innate knowledge.