Tuesday 7 October 2014

Welcome to the new initial general purpose police dog course Autumn 2014

We started our new Initial Police dog course 4 weeks ago and it will run for another 9 weeks when hopefully all the dog teams will successfully graduate to become fully fledged Police dog teams. It is a very demanding but enjoyable course where these high energy determined dogs finally get a chance to do what they were no doubt born to do ie work. This is something that very few dogs bred to work get to do in the modern world hence the reason why so many end up with behavioural problems.

Let me introduce the teams to you.

Picture 1 is Trainee Police dog Ash with her handler PC Ben Jobes who will be working in Camborne.

Picture 2 is Trainee Police dog Annie with her handler  PC Lee Crampton who will be working in Exeter.

Picture 3 is Trainee Police dog Grommit with his handler PS Alan Knight who will be working in Exeter.

Picture 4 is Trainee Police dog Argo with me. Argo is our spare dog who is being being trained and handled by me. If for any reason any of the other dogs fail to graduate then he will take their place.  If everyone is successful then Argo will go to another force as a fully trained Police dog.

Picture 5 shows the 4 of us together at the start of our course.

Picture 6 Shows Trainee Police dog Ava being introduced to her new handler PC Steve Budd from Dorset Police. Ava is with her puppy walkers Ed Harris and Lowri. Ava and Steve started their training at Surrey Police dog training school 3 weeks ago and are doing extremely well.

The more astute among you who follow the blog will know that Police dogs Axel and Arry graduated in August this year and that our 4 A litter dogs mentioned above ie Ava, Annie, Argo and Ash means that one of the litter is missing. You are correct unfortunately we made the decision to release Anya the 7th member of the A litter in August because of her lack of size.

The good news is we were able to find her an excellent home with Jane and Graham Crowley who are experienced German Shepherd owners in Plymouth who recently lost their last German Shepherd.

Picture 7 shows Anya on Sunday 10th August  being introduced to her new owners Jane and Graham. She has settled in well and is now Jane's constant companion.

Over the weeks ahead I will introduce you to some of the work and training that we do on the course. At the moment we are still in the early stages of building a solid foundation in all aspects of the training before we move forward. These early stages are about building confidence, making sure the dogs are enjoying the work and building the bond between handler and dog. If the bond is strong these wonderful dogs will pretty much overcome everything that is thrown at them because of the trust they have in their handler.

Picture 8 Shows the teams starting this early work on control getting good focus and concentration which is all built through play. Also note the close proximity in which the dogs work together which is extremely important.

Here are a selection of photographs ( Pictures 9 to 14 ) showing the handlers working on control and agility exercises.

Picture 15 shows the dogs starting their training to deal with a violent of fleeing criminal. Although we train a dog to attack a violent or escaping criminal the handler must always satisfy him or herself that use of the dog was both proportionate and necessary. Whenever a dog is used to bite or detain a person the handler must submit a detailed report outlining why the use of the dog to bite was necessary. 

Picture 16 shows Ash searching for hidden property which in this case is a bunch of car keys. She is taught not to touch the item so as not to destroy any DNA on the item. Her method of indicating property she finds is by freezing and staring at the item.

Pictures 17 to 21 show the dog teams learning to walk through and ignore livestock such as sheep and cattle. We call this rural schooling.  This is vitally important for Police dogs who often have to search in rural areas for outstanding criminals or vulnerable missing persons and must not be distracted whilst working.

Picture 17 shows me demonstrating to the students how to operate the training line as we pass through livestock.

Picture 18 shows Ben and Ash negotiating their way through cows.

Picture 19 shows Alan and Grommit approaching a large herd of sheep with Grommit behaving perfectly.

Picture 20 shows Argo completely ignoring sheep and

Picture 21 shows the 3 dog teams practising walking together under total control.

Finally pictures 22 to 25 show the dog teams training on Urban schooling. This involves the dogs being completely relaxed and safe working in crowds and town situations. This is vitally important as a Police dog can be expected to perform high visibility foot patrols in busy crowd situations such as shopping centres and he/she can also be required to deal with violent disorderly crowds. The Police dog must be able to differentiate between the two.

Picture 22 Shows Alan and Grommit practising on a housing estate to walk in a relaxed manner.

Picture 23 shows the team getting used to being in close proximity as we are about to go into Exeter city centre.

Picture24 shows the teams just about to set off on individual foot patrols in the crowds.

Picture 25 shows the group enjoying a well earned coffee at the end of a very busy day.

As always we were inundated with well wishers asking about the dogs and wanting to take photographs. As you can see the dogs were very relaxed and well behaved. We are one of the only Police forces that I am aware of who include both urban and rural schooling in their Initial Police dog courses. In an age when forces are cutting the length of their courses to save money our force have taken the view that such training is of vital importance to maintain safe well balanced working Police dogs.

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