Monday 9 February 2015

Yogi and the B litter start their initial general purpose police dog course

We started our Initial Police dog course on Monday 26 of January 2015 and at the time of writing this update all the dog teams have completed 2 weeks of their training and all are doing really well.

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.

The above picture shows the teams on day 2 of the course. From left to right are PC Mike Green from Dorset Police dog section and Blade, PC Darryl Drew Exeter Police dog section and Beau, Boris and me. PC Rachael Prescott Bodmin dog section and Buddy, PC Steve White Newton Abbott dog section and Yogi.

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.
Buddy is a very powerful masculine male and Rachael has really had to hang on for grim death on occasions to control him but she is a tough gritty person who is now starting to get to grips with his power. He is a very serious dog who is certainly not going to stand for any nonsense from anyone who challenges Rachael or him. That said he is a well balanced and social dog who loves to work.
Yogi has a huge appetite for work which added to his enthusiasm and excitability makes him a real handful for Stewart who is a novice handler. Again Stewart is a resilient chap who is learning how to channel, control and harness this energy. The potential of Yogi is huge and I have no doubt that as Stewart gains experience they will develop into a formidable team. Yogi is one of the hardest biting dogs I have worked in a long time.
Blade is another high drive dog who is excitable and can also be a little stubborn which makes him a bit of a challenge. He hasn’t got a bad bone in his body but if he thinks he can get away with anything he will. He has come a long way since his early days when he wasn’t the most energetic dog but that has changed. His handler Mike another first time handler absolutely loves him. Unfortunately Mike slightly pulled a hamstring this week running criminal and so the rest of us have been handling Blade until Mike fully recovers hopefully next week.
My beloved Boris is really blossoming on the course and I am really enjoying working him. He is very much the course clown who loves meeting anyone and everyone. But don’t be fooled because he has shown on the criminal work if the criminal gets tough then Boris is quite happy to  get tougher and I suspect he is going to be a real handful when he matures. He has come through a lot in his short time with changes of puppy walkers and was particularly affected by  the loss of his first puppy walker Ken who tragically died of cancer. On a happy note he appears to be back to his old self and is loving the work.
Bruno is 2 weeks into an Initial Police dog course with Gloucester Police. His new handler Lenny is a very experienced handler which is just as well as she describes him as a very strong willed powerful dog with a huge work drive. Hopefully we will get some updates and photo’s of the two of them throughout the course.

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.
Yogi hot on the trail tracking an offender

They learn to search for criminals or missing persons using the scent of the criminal or missing person which hangs in the air. 
The above shows Boris locating an offender in the woods using air scent.

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.

The above shows Yogi learning to bite a violent offender and the look of pain on my face is not acting.

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.
The above shows Boris freezing over a metal fire hose and then gets a toy thrown in to reward him for not touching the item.

Blade patiently waiting for his turn to search.

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.
Buddy staying in the down position until Rachael comes back to him.

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.
The above shows Beau and Darryl on foot patrol on a housing estate learning how to walk on a lead in a relaxed but vigilant manner. 

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

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