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

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The January 2017 General Purpose Initial Police Dog Course Gets Underway

Meet the team’s starting out on their 13 week General purpose Initial Police dog course.

Rear left is PS Ali Cruwys with TPD Billy, PC Steve Cruwys with TPD Nato,( formerly Cato) front left Chris Williamson with TPD Bernie, centre is course instructor Hugh Watson and right is Mark Pomery with TPD Ronny.

Let me introduce the teams to you.

PS Ali Cruwys is the dog section supervisor for the Plymouth and Ashburton Police dog sections. Her old Police dog Bodie recently retired and will now live out his retirement with Ali and her family.

Billy was bred by our regular breeder John Smith in Barrowden and was puppy walked by Sue and Nigel Davey in Exeter.

Here he is as a young puppy.

He is doing really well on the course particularly with his tracking. All of Ali’s previous Police dogs have been exceptional tracking dogs and Billy looks like following in their footsteps. ( Excuse the pun ) He is still very immature for his 19 months.


PC Steve Cruwys is a Police dog handler in Exeter and is married to Ali . Should Nato be successful he will be taking over from Steve’s retired Police dog Logan. Three of Nato’s brothers graduated as operational Police dogs on our December 2016 course and Nato hopes to make it a successful quartet.

Nato was bred by Drew Rush from Gloucestershire who proudly saw Nato’s 3 brothers graduate on their passing out parade in December and would love to see Nato follow in their footsteps in April 2017.


Nato was puppy walked by experienced puppy walker Susannah Coffin and her family. Here he is as a young puppy. Nato is a very big powerful dog who is very bold and self-assured.

He loves his handler and when Steve puts him back in the big van after he has completed his turn to work and Steve re-joins the rest of the course Nato howls like a bloodhound. Nato is exceptional in all of his work and my advice to criminals is don’t be fooled by the floppy ears you don’t want to mess around with this dog.


PC Chris Williamson has been a Police dog hander for 16 years and works in Guernsey. Bernie was bred by Paul Jones who recently moved to Lostwithiel after spending 7 years in Germany and prior to moving to Germany provided a number of Police dogs for Devon and Cornwall Police.

Bernie was puppy walked by Paul Sabin an experienced puppy walker and his family in Torquay. Bernie is pictured relaxing here at my home address after I brought him back from Germany with his 2 brothers Bob and Bevan


We had to release his brother Bob because he found it difficult to cope on different types of floor surfaces. Bernie also had the same issue but not to the same extent of his brother and is doing really well on all exercises on his course.

Bernie is a feisty, high energy; independent young dog that we must be mindful he is only 13 months old. Also because his handler Chris flies home to Guernsey each weekend Bernie goes back to his puppy walker Paul to be looked after at weekends.

We are grateful to his puppy walker Paul because it means that Bernie can relax and rest at weekends which are vitally important for him after an intensive week of training.

It will be disruptive for Bernie coming back in each week to be reunited with Chris but we will monitor the situation closely and hopefully after a few weeks he will settle into the routine.


PC Mark Pomery is a novice Police dog handler with his new dog Ronny. If successful Mark and Ronny will be working at Bodmin Police dog section.

Ronny was bred by Alfons Schulmeister in Hovelriege Germany. Alfons also bred our latest 3 puppies Tammy, Tag and Tara who I collected 2 weeks ago and featured in our last blog.

Ronnie was initially puppy walked on a temporary basis by experienced puppy walker Annie Miller while we found a full time puppy walker. He was then puppy walked full time by experienced puppy walkers Jill and Terry Hodge. They are also now puppy walking new pup Tara.

Here is Ronny pictured with Annie on the day Terry and Jill with their granddaughter collected Ronny  from Annie’s home.

Ronny is a big powerful dog with a lovely nature and very strong working drives. Ronny is one of those dogs that take everything in their stride and is a pleasure to own and be around. He and first time handler Mark are well suited and are doing well in all aspects of the course.

So after nearly 2 weeks all 4 teams are doing well.

The course is great fun for the dogs but is physically and mentally very demanding. At weekends it is important that the dogs just relax and get plenty of rest to recharge their batteries for the next weeks training.

I love seeing the young dogs start their Initial course training but I never forget what a huge part our puppy walkers have played in preparing these dogs for our courses.

 As a result of their hard work our dogs arrive fully socialised to all everyday life experiences. They have covered basic control exercises such as sit stay, down stay, basic agility, tracking, article searching, puppy tugging, recall, and to remain in the vehicle until the lead is attached and the jump down command is given.
Ronny down Stay
Nato sit stay
Billy tracking
Ronney stay in car

If that doesn’t impress you then maybe Bernie and his brother practising their high 5 will



The course will cover a wide range of exercises and skills which includes tracking and searching for outstanding criminals or vulnerable missing persons, dealing with violent offenders, disorderly crowds, agility, searching for outstanding articles, and a wide range of control exercises.

Bernie is pictured here in the early stages of learning to negotiate an obstacle.

Billy is pictured here negotiating the window obstacle.

Eventually the dogs will need to negotiate a 3 metre long jump and a 2 metre high obstacle.

Control work is probably our most important work and is practised daily. This will include the dog being able to walk in a controlled and relaxed manner alongside the handler, a sit stay, a down stay for 5 minutes with distractions, emergency recall from practical situations, releasing a toy on command, releasing an offender detained by the dog on command and return to the handler.

Here are the teams in the early stages of group heelwork.

Here is Steve in the early stages of the down stay with Nato.

Here is Ali getting the look and focus with Billy. Notice her soft expression and lack of threat together with reassuring praise which obtains a happy relaxed response from Billy

In Dorset, Devon and Cornwall we have a large number of elderly residents and we spend a lot of time searching for elderly vulnerable missing people. Very often they are confused and can attempt to push the dog away when located.

That is where our puppy program pays dividends. Because of their balanced temperaments and the wide ranging socialisation program they undertake with their puppy walkers they are unlikely to attack or bite anyone unless there is a very good reason.

Nato is pictured here in the early stages of learning to bark without being aggressive to indicate he has located a person.

The dogs are also taught to indicate any outstanding property or articles bearing recent human scent. This could be lost property or articles that may have been dropped or hidden by a criminal. We don’t want the dog touching or mouthing the item so as not to interfere with any DNA which could identify the offender.

Here is Bernie in the early stages of learning not to touch the wallet in the basket
 
Here is Ronny getting ready to set off on his track.

Tracking is the following of a trail left by a person who could be a criminal who has made off from a crime scene or vulnerable missing person we need to locate.

Ronny is away demonstrating a low nose in the footprints of the person who left the trail.
 
Tracking probably accounts for a large percentage of our work and so we start their tracking training as early as 3 months of age.

Here is Ronny at 5 months already showing good tracking concentration with puppy walker Annie.

Bernie was a little wayward starting his tracking on the course and so we reverted to the method we used with him during his puppy training. You can see he is going to be a very determined and driven tracking dog.



There is no doubt the dogs love their biting work. With the advent of the Tazor and the Incapacitate sprays that officers now carry the dogs do not get used in as many use of force situations as they used to.

However they still need to protect their handlers and still need to be trained to detain a fleeing criminal who ignores the challenge to stop, or to deal with violent unruly crowds.

We start with the handler playing with a bite cushion to get the dog used to it and this is then transferred to a helper. Once the dog gets proficient at biting the bite cushion with the helper we transfer to a protective sleeve worn on the right arm.

Pictured here is Bernie going through this first training phase.



Pictured here is Nato on a covered sleeve and it is very obvious that he is going to be a very determined and hard biting dog.

Well I hope you have enjoyed the blog.

Someone on Facebook commented they thought the blog last time was a bit layman which I thought was a bit unfair.

I do the blog voluntarily in my own time and try to keep it simple but informative. I’m more than capable of using all the training buzz words and sounding very knowledgeable and clever but unless you inform me different I will leave it as it is.

I will update you all on the course at the halfway stage.

Bye for now

1 comment:

  1. Paul, your blogs are amazing and to the person that suggested they might be a bit "layman" I would say that this is the only insight the majority of the general public get to see all the hard work that goes into the breeding programme and its outcomes. Please don't change the format, it is perfectly balanced between the technical and non technical aspects and I look forward to reading it every week. As you say, this is done voluntarily and in between all of the other millions of things in your busy schedule and no criticism is warranted at all. kind regards, Julie

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