I am instructing the course and I am also training Boris who is our spare dog. That means that Boris will step in if any of the other dogs are released from the programme for whatever reason. It is probably an insult to call Boris a spare dog because he is certainly not in the shadow of any of the other dogs. I will give an update on each dog after I have introduced the teams to you.
Mike, Rachael and Stewart are all first time handlers.
Here are the dogs and a short resume of how they are doing.
Beau has been with Darryl since she was a puppy and so they have a very strong bond and they know each other very well. Her tracking work is outstanding because of the work done by Darryl. She was a little too well mannered at the start of the course but she is becoming more assertive day by day. She did have a problem with some shiny floors in buildings in the first few days and hopefully she will improve on this. Other than that a very good start.
The Initial Police dog course is of 13 weeks duration and is particularly demanding for the handlers who have to learn basic dog handling skills, animal welfare, training theory, and health and safety just to mention some of the areas they cover.
It is also demanding for the dogs because they need to understand what their handlers want them to do and they have to learn to trust and bond with their handlers. The dogs love the actual exercises because it is probably the first time in their lives that they are actually able to follow their natural instincts to hunt, search, track, chase, and bite their quarry which in this case is man.
They learn to follow the ground trail left by a person who could be a criminal or missing person and we call this tracking.
They learn to search for criminals or missing persons using the scent of the criminal or missing person which hangs in the air.
They learn to negotiate obstacles such as walls or fences which they will need to negotiate if they are hunting criminals which we call agility.
The above Blade and Mike jumping an improvised obstacle together
They learn to chase and detain fleeing or violent criminals.
The above shows the dogs being introduced on day 1 to criminal work in the pouring rain.
They also learn to deal with violent and disorderly crowds.
They learn to search for outstanding items of property by indicating the item without touching it to preserve DNA. We train this initially with an article the dog is not going to want to pick up like a large metal object. As soon as the dog sniffs it we throw a toy from behind to reward him. The dog then learns by freezing over the article he gets a reward.
They also learn obedience exercises such as heelwork, sit and down stay, distance control, emergency recalls from a person they are chasing and stopping a dog at distance.
They also are taught to ignore livestock or other dogs when they are on or off duty. They also need to know the difference between innocent people and innocent crowds and disorderly crowds and violent criminals. We spend a lot of time schooling the dogs in shopping centres and city centres to ensure they are always reliable with people and passive crowds.
So there you have it all the dog teams are doing well and enjoying their work. They also enjoy their weekend breaks when they are not allowed to undertake any training at all.
The weekends are for the dogs and handlers to enjoy a relaxing weekend to recharge their batteries for the week ahead.
I will endeavour to give you further updates as the course progresses.
See you soon Paul