Monday 14 October 2019

In this blog

  • Despite serious setbacks to our puppy program our January 2020 GP initial police dog course is still on track
  • Rebel undergoes remedial training to deal with his over exitability and tail chasing issues TPD Jay is a big hit at the ride to the wall armed forces memorial day

Despite serious setbacks to our puppy program our January 2020 GP initial police dog course is still on track

Here are the dogs earmarked for our January 2020 General Purpose Initial Police dog course on our recent training day. From left to right TPD Arnie and puppy walker Andy, TPD Jay with puppy walker Stewart, TPD Rebel and me, TPD Dino with Police dog handler Scott Perkins.

I was looking forward to our training day because this was my first training day with TPD Dino since he went to Scott. I had puppy walked TPD Dino in his early weeks while I waited for a suitable
Police dog handler to take him on.

TPD Dino now lives with Scott and his family and Scott’s current serving Police dog Max in Cornwall. TPD Dino and PD Max get along really well together.

Scott will be attending the January 2020 Initial Police dog course with TPD Dino and although PD Max will be retiring as a general purpose Police dog he will still continue to work with Scott in his capacity as a firearms support search dog.

We had a really good training day and although there are several more months before these dogs start their course I must congratulate the puppy walkers because their dedication to their pups means they will be starting the course already at an advanced level.

Andy is a serving Police officer with aspirations to join the dog section and considering this is his first dog he has done an excellent job with TPD Arnie.

Stewart and his wife Alison have owned their own German Shepherds in the past but TPD Jay is their first Police puppy. Here they are pictured on our previous training day.

Alison was unable to attend today’s training session and so it was down to Stewart to hold the fort.

TPD Rebel has been with me for 10 days while his puppy walkers were on holiday and it gave me an opportunity to assess the problem he has had since early puppyhood ie chasing his tail.

In the last couple of months we have lost 5 dogs from our program.  Three of the dogs TPD’s Echo, Nikki and Nero should have started our September Initial course and TPD’s Ginny & Rogue should have started our January 2020 course.

TPD’S Nero, Nikki, Ginny and Rogue all had hip dysplacia and TPD Echo developed a phobia for shiny floors. We have found excellent homes for all the dogs but it is very upsetting for all concerned and particularly for the puppy walkers who have put so much effort and time into developing them.

It is unusual to lose so many of our pups to hip dysplacia and once again highlights the health problems in the German shepherd which no breeders are immune to. 

It also highlights the value of having our puppy program and why we always acquire 12 pups to fill the 8 course vacancies that we need to fill each year.

On our training day we started as we always do with the most important exercise in a General purpose Police dogs toolbox ie tracking. This is the following of a trail left by an offender or missing person. Here is TPD Dino and Scott following a trail I laid 10 minutes previously.

Here is TPD Arnie and Andy following a trail I had just laid with TPD Arnie’s ball hidden at the end. TPD Arnie shows excellent concentration and focus on this track.

Having a dog that can already track before the start of an Initial Police dog course is of huge benefit to the Police dog trainers who run the courses because it saves them weeks of valuable time teaching it on the course.

Here is TPD Jay and Stewart following and successfully completing a similar track to his brother
TPD Arnie.

The main objective of our puppy walkers is to take a puppy into their family for on average 12 to 16 months and to socialise them and get them used to as many different situations and circumstances as possible. This will play a big part in making them a well-adjusted and confident dog when they go to their handler.

A very young TPD Arnie out with his family on the moor.

TPD Jay enjoying a swim which could be a vitally important skill for an operational Police dog tracking down a criminal one day.
We support them in that vitally important role of developing them in the community but we also realise that these dogs have very high drives and energy levels which need harnessing and so we also have voluntary fortnightly training and development sessions.
Our puppy walkers and the pups love these sessions and rarely ever miss them. They may not be Police dog handlers but they still achieve excellent results.

TPD Jay is quite an easy going laid back dog but when he decides to detain someone they are not going to be escaping that’s for sure.

In the early stages of training young dogs any change to their routine ie a new criminal helper or a different venue can affect their performance. As the development officer I am always the criminal helper for the pups but today I asked Scott to carry out that role.

I was delighted today at how quickly the dogs adjusted to a new criminal and in a venue they had never been to before. Here is TPD Arnie and Andy on their chase and attack.

Here is TPD Jay with Stewart on their chase and attack.
I was really pleased with TPD Rebel whose criminal work hasn’t been particularly strong in the past but in the 10 days he has been with me his confidence has grown.

Im not sure if it was Scott’s John Travolta Saturday night fever impression that made TPD Rebel ready to take on the world but it certainly fired him up.

I returned TPD Rebel back to his puppy walkers the following day and although I had my doubts before as to his suitability to be a Police dog having seen his progress in the 10 days we have been together I think he is going to be okay.

TPD Dino is a Belgian shepherd Malinois and like most Malinois from working lines possesses extreme tenacity and biting drive. Experience tells us that dogs with these traits need very little encouragement to bite and can be over stimulated easily.

For that reason with TPD Dino we are concentrating on obtaining and consolidating an instant leave on command and return to the handler before we start training more stimulating chase and attacks.

Next we worked on the early stages of searching for outstanding criminals and missing persons. We teach the dogs to bark when they locate vulnerable missing persons or outstanding criminals in buildings or outside areas.

Here is TPD Jay learning to bark at a person he has located and it is important that he doesn’t get too close to the person.
The reason we don’t want them to get too close is because a criminal might try to attack the dog or in the case of a vulnerable confused elderly person they might try to push the dog away not realising it is a Police dog which makes them very vulnerable.
This is why a General purpose Police dog needs to have a well-adjusted and confident character and the ability to assess each situation without being over reactive.

Here is TPD Rebel barking strongly and confidently with good distance away from the helper.

Getting a dog to bite people is easy but getting a dog who is able differentiate between different situations takes a special kind of dog.   

We then did some training work on our control and focus exercises which are the foundation of all of the exercises that our dogs do. Here is TPD Dino and Scott practising their heelwork.
Considering that TPD Dino is only 7 months old I was very impressed with the standard that Scott has achieved and the obvious bond between them.

TPD Jay and TPD Arnie have been very consistent since I collected them from Kazzardsway German shepherds in Manchester aged 8 weeks. They are both very steady well balanced dogs that take everything in their stride.

Their puppy walking handlers Stewart and Andy have an excellent relationship with their dogs and they should be proud of what they have both achieved.

With another 3 months to go before their Initial Police dog course I am looking forward to seeing just what this group can achieve.


I collected TPD Rebel from puppy walkers Terry and Jill On Monday 23rd of September to look after him for 10 days while they were on holiday and to give me the opportunity to look at the issues that they have highlighted ie tail chasing and over excitability.

They have previously informed me that he barks and chases his tail; he can be destructive, is reluctant to jump into their car, panics if you try to groom his back end and constantly jumps up.

As soon as we arrived home his sensitivity to being in an unfamiliar place and his excitability saw him launch into a barking and tail chasing ritual which is no doubt his learned coping mechanism.

My trump card for a dog like TPD Rebel is my female Ella who is so calm and well balanced and within 5 minutes they were romping around and there was no doubt that she was helping him to deal with the turmoil he was experiencing.

TPD Rebel is a victim of his breeding and genetics which is a subject I could discuss at length with regard to why there are so many German shepherds like him. He is hyperactive, excitable and sensitive.

So it is no good shouting and correcting him for what we deem to be his misdemeanours because he invariably has no idea what he has done wrong and is desperate to understand.

Getting rid of all that pent up energy and drive is key with a dog like TPD Rebel and so focus and control sessions for his favourite liver titbits was something we did every day.

He needs an outlet for his excessive drive and energy and he needs routines that he understands and most of all consistency from his owner, trainer or handler.

I was able to regularly join up with the Initial Police dog course and do some work with TPD Rebel. Here he is doing some agility, criminal work and person searching.

Every day involved 2 long walks one in the morning and one in the evening. During the walks we did regular search and seek games for his toy with him on a long line to maintain control.

Every day involved a tracking session. Here he is showing his tracking ability which is natural to him.

I took TPD Rebel into Exeter city centre for structured walks and found him to be very confident. He was sensible meeting other dogs but very reactive towards the many pigeons. I did correct him with a repellent spray for launching at the pigeons which had the immediate effect in calming him down.

If a dog understands what you require from him but decides to ignore your instructions particularly in situations which could be dangerous ie chasing traffic or animals then I believe a correction must be delivered to stop that behaviour.

Dogs are hard wired to accept a correction which starts with their mum in the litter and provided that it is justified they will respond by being more respectful and responsive to someone they see as their adored leader.

After the first 3 days the tail chasing all but disappeared and I was able to bring TPD Rebel into the front room in the evenings to let him learn how to relax. Here he is happily relaxing with Ella and chewing their bones.

With regard to his grooming this is an important part of monitoring a dogs health and also building a good bond. Sure enough TPD Rebel had a bad association of being groomed and so I started with getting him to jump up onto a table for a game with titbits.

I then used the clicker and liver titbits to condition him to short sweeps of the comb on top of the table. It wasn’t long before he would jump up onto the table for the clicker titbit game.

The issue of not wanting to jump up into a vehicle was never a problem for me. Once he realised that getting in the vehicle meant going to areas to work and exercise I couldn’t keep him out of the vehicle.

By the end of the 10 days he was a much more relaxed confident dog and the early issues of him tail chasing if he was excited or told off for anything had disappeared. I found him to be a dog with strong nerves.

All that remained for me to do was to assess his boldness. I set up a situation where I walked him through woodland and my friend Graham jumped out in front of him to assess his response. He didn’t take flight and quickly recovered to investigate him which was an excellent response.

During the first 3 days with TPD Rebel because of his hyperactive character and tendency to resort to tail chasing whenever excited or under stress I had serious doubts as to his suitability to be a Police.

But having seen the dramatic improvements in his confidence and ability to relax and his working aptitude I am sure that he could become a very competent Police dog with the right type of handler. I look forward to seeing how TPD Rebel develops.

TPD Jay is a big hit at the ride to the wall armed forces memorial

The ride to the wall is an annual event where thousands of motorcylists from around the UK come together to remember the names engraved on the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Aboretum in Staffordshire.

TPD Jay’s Puppy walkers Stewart and Alison met each other over 40 years ago in the Royal Signals Regiment and their son Jamie who was also in the Regiment was tragically killed in an accident on his motorcycle whilst travelling home on leave 5 years ago.

They travelled with their son Rory up to join the 15000 people who attended the service which raises money for service families. We provided a harness to show that TPD Jay is a service dog in training which meant he could attend the memorial area.

TPD Jay who is named after their deceased son Jamie was a very popular visitor to the event.

We leave the last word to the piper and remember all those who lost their lives.

From Ella and me bye for now.

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