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Devon and Cornwall, England devon-cornwall.police.uk

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The assessments for the September 2013 initial police dog course are finally completed.

The last few weeks have been taken up with assessing 9 of our dogs to see if they have the necessary abilities and potential to begin their Initial Police dog training on the up and coming Initial Police dog courses starting in September this year.

We require 5 dogs for our handlers on that course starting on the 9th of September and the remaining successful dogs will be going to other Police forces to begin training as General Purpose Police dogs. We wouldn’t normally have so many dogs but as we are not sure whether there will be a January 2014 course we have brought 3 of those dogs forward.

The candidates were Shadow, Codi, Bear, Betty, Jasper, Megan, Max, Jack and Zeta.


Four german shepherds with their walkers standing in front of the Force helicopter

Picture 1 shows from left to right Shadow, Codi, Bear and Betty.

All these dogs are 12 months old which is young to start an initial course. Codi, Bear and Betty are all litter mates.

Three german shepherds with their puppy walkers standing in a garden

Picture 2 shows from left to right Jasper, Megan and Max are also litter mates from different breeding and are also 12 months old.

Two german shepherds sat on grass looking up

Picture 3 shows  Jack and Zeta who are brother and sister and are 15 months old.

All the dogs were assessed on a wide range of skills and aptitudes to work. I have attached a sample of the various assessments undertaken.


We are looking at their potential to Track (the ability to follow the scent of a person who has walked or run away and needs to be located), search for property or articles that have been discarded, boldness to deal with threatening situations, determination, tenacity, general all round confidence and trainability.

All of the dogs assessed extremely well and once again showed the benefit of the work put in by the puppy walkers and the fortnightly training and development sessions they attended with their pups.
Shadow, Codi, Bear, Jasper, Megan, Max and Zeta passed all elements of the assessments. Jack unfortunately failed his courage test. For this test the dog is walked through a wooded area as if out on a general walk with me. The dogs all know me and are very relaxed walking with me. After we have  walked for approximately half a mile and the dog is switched off, a man in a cape wearing a mask jumps out from behind a tree in front of the dog. We expect the dog to take avoiding action and skirt away from the figure and all dogs have varying distances that they will move away. We then expect the dog to respond to the threat by barking at the figure but we acknowledge they are still going to keep their distance. The person who jumps out then removes his cape and mask and I then walk over and engage in conversation with the person. We are looking for the dog to recover and go over to investigate the person.

Unfortunately Jack turned tail and ran for nearly 100 metres which is a failure in itself and recovery was not ideal either. This surprised me as I have never seen Jack be frightened by anything from the time he was a tiny pup until this test. I have decided to give Jack more time and I will be evaluating further his boldness in the coming weeks.

Betty was very bold on all of the boldness tests but she was lacking general determination on the searching exercises and play drive. I have a soft spot for Betty as when she came to us she was diagnosed as having a grade 2 heart murmur when she was a little pup. She stayed with me for her first few months while we arranged to have her examined by a heart specialist. He told us not to worry she would grow out of it and she has.

She is currently staying with me again to do some further development work and she has improved so much with the one on one attention that she now looks an outstanding prospect.

Two german shepherd sat in a louger swing with Paul in the middle


She is pictured here showing what a stressful life it is living with me and my old Police dog Spud.

There are 4 new inexperienced handlers on our in force initial course and this had to be taken into account when allocating dogs as several dogs would be better in experienced hands. Megan, Max, Jasper, Shadow and Zeta have been allocated to handlers within our force.  Codi has been allocated to PC Lee Briggs and Bear has been allocated to PC  Brendan Trent both of Dorset Police and they will be attending their initial course in Surrey Regional Police dog school starting on the 16th of September.

Hopefully Dorset and Surrey will take into account their young ages when taking them through their training.

Its not exactly Wizard of OZ as Betty’s heart is now fine but Jack needs to discover some courage over the coming weeks and will hopefully go on to become a Police dog.

I will keep you all updated on every ones progress over the months ahead.

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