Friday 2 October 2020

Progress Report On The 2020 September General Purpose Initial Police Dog Course

The 13 week long General purpose Initial Police dog course started on the 7th of September 2020 and the teams have just completed week 4 of the course. Here are the teams. 

From left to right are TPD Fendi with Amanda Swain, TPD Fozzy with Rhys Thomas, TPD Zuul with course Instructor Graham Attwood, TPD Ace with Scott Perkins and TPD Franky with Alex Kimmins. 

From left to right are TPD Flo with Sam Harris, TPD Freddy with Andy Parsons, TPD Flint with John Warren and at the rear course Instructor Phil Wilson. 

TPD Floyd with Canine development officer Paul Glennon. 

Normally there would only be one course running but because of the number of vacancies that have unexpectedly arisen on the dog section we have had to run 2 courses alongside each other. 

Let me introduce you to the individual teams. 

PC Amanda Swain and TPD Fendi 

Amanda is an experienced handler who is stationed at Camborne Police dog centre. TPD Fendi is from our F litter and is now 15 months old. TPD Fendi was drafted onto the course in week 3 because Bruno the dog Amanda started the course with had to be released due to a lack of determination. 

TPD Fendi & Amanda joined the course on Tuesday not having had time to get to know each other. As the week progressed TPD Fendi settled in and no doubt a relaxing few days together this weekend will set them up for week 2. 

Her first attempt at the long jump didn’t go according to plan but there was no lack of enthusiasm considering she has literally just been taken from her home and placed on the course and is already over 2 weeks behind the rest. 

TPD Fendi from our F litter has been puppy walked by first time puppy walker Sarah Broom who lives in Plymouth with her 2 boys Archie aged 10 and Franky aged 8. TPD Fendi is pictured here with Sarah on one of her early training days.

We have found Bruno who came from Poland via Lorokmor working dogs in Shropshire an excellent local home. 

PC Rhys Thomas and TPD Fozzy 

Rhys is a first time handler who successfully passed his assessment to be a dog handler 3 years ago and has been patiently awaiting a place. If successful he and TPD Fozzy will be stationed at Exeter dog unit. 

TPD Fozzy & Rhys have hit the ground running and are progressing well in all areas of their work. TPD Fozzy who is also from our F litter is probably best described as fully committed to everything he does and if Instructor Graham didn’t know it before he knows it now. 

 TPD Fozzy was puppy walked in his first 2 months by Susannah Coffin who has been a very successful puppy walker for the force. 

Unfortunately due to a change of circumstances she couldn’t continue and TPD Fozzy was transferred to our most experienced puppy walkers Lyn and John Parlour in Plymouth. 

Like most of the boys in the F litter TPD Fozzy can be very determined to keep hold of his possessions. Here he is having taken possession of 2 sleeves on a training session with Lyn and John’s son Ian. 

Rhys and TPD Fozzy are enjoying their course and progressing well in all areas of their development and work. 

PC Graham Attwood and TPD Zuul 

TPD Zuul is another dog we purchased from Lorokmor working dogs. They imported him from a working kennels in Poland. He is a lovely friendly happy dog with a very high working drive and even at this early stage he is showing great potential. 

With the exception of bitework we don’t think that TPD Zuul has had any previous training but he certainly has intense ball drive and is already showing early tracking potential. 

He is living with Graham and his family and Graham will be handling and training him as our spare dog. 

PC Scott Perkins and TPD Ace 

Scott is an experienced handler whose 1st dog PD Max recently retired after a very successful operational career. TPD Ace has big shoes to fill but having looked after and trained him for 6 months I can vouch for his super character and great potential. 

TPD Ace was donated to the force by Angie Kurn and her family in Liskeard . They rescued him aged 6 months but at 18 months he had so much drive, energy and enthusiasm that the family realised that they were unable to give him the exercise and mental stimulation that he needed. 

At the end of our time together I found it almost impossible to lay a trail that would stretch or test him such was his determination and tracking ability on any surface or terrain. I cannot remember him ever missing an article on a track. 

 Needless to say Scott and TPD Ace are going great guns and should they successfully complete the course they will be posted to Camborne dog section.

PC Alex Kimmins and TPD Franky 

Alex is a first time handler from Dorset dog section. Alex and TPD Franky will be based at Ferndown dog section on successful completion of the course. 

TPD Franky is also from our F litter and has been puppy walked by first time puppy walkers Leah and Rich McLellan. 

Rich who recently retired as an Inspector in our force has put a lot of time and effort into training and socialising TPD Franky. He started the course already at a very advanced level in terms of his training. 

Although TPD Franky is a very social dog he has always been very possessive of his toy and on occasions can be reluctant to give it up. All the usual strategies to overcome this were employed on the course ie using a double toy, special food titbits etc. 

The use of a water spray has been very successfully employed to overcome the problem and this together with structured routines applied by Alex has seen the team make excellent progress in all areas of their work

PC Sam Harris and TPD Flo 

Sam is a first time handler with TPD Flo also from our F litter and if successful the team will be based at the North Devon dog section. 

TPD Flo has had a number of temporary puppy walkers and also stayed with me for several months before going to her full time puppy walkers Terry and Jill Hodges in Exeter.

In the time she spent with me I concentrated on her tracking and by the time she was 6 months old she was successfully completing operational type tracks on the footpaths and car parks around HQ. 

Here she is on the trail with Sam and I think I can confidently predict that this team will have many successful operational tracks ahead of them. 

They are both doing really well on the course and are clearly enjoying every minute.

PC Andy Parsons and TPD Freddy 

Andy is also a first time handler with TPD Freddy from our F litter and if successful they will be based at Plymouth dog section.

TPD Freddy was puppy walked by puppy walkers Karen and Rod Jackson until he was 6 months old. 

Unfortunately Rod’s health took a turn for the worse and so reluctantly we had to find a new puppy walker for TPD Freddy. 

Step forward Andy Parsons a serving Police officer and puppy walker with aspirations to become a Police dog handler. He and his family had previously puppy walked PD Arnie and kindly agreed to take on TPD Freddy. 

Andy successfully passed his Police dog handler assessments in August and now finds himself on the current Initial Police dog course with TPD Freddy the dog that he has puppy walked. 

To my knowledge this has never happened before in the 30 plus years that we have been running a puppy program. Everyone is delighted for Andy because we all know how hard he has worked to get this chance. I think Andy and TPD Freddy are pretty excited too. 

 Andy and TPD Freddy are making good progress in all of their work and anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting TPD Freddy will know there is never a dull moment when he is around. 

PC John Warren and TPD Flint

John is a first time handler with TPD Flint from our F litter and if successful they will be working alongside Andy & TPD Freddy in Plymouth. 

TPD Flint has been puppy walked by Sarah and Dave Cather near Ottery St Mary. 

Like all of the puppy walkers in the F litter they have given TPD Flint an extensive and expansive puppy walking experience.

I will never forget their ingenuity in making sure that TPD Flint received the earliest possible socialisation with minimum risk. 

After a quiet start TPD Flint has really grown into the course and the team are now making excellent progress in all areas of their work. 

They are pictured here just about to start a wood search. 

Paul Glennon and TPD Floyd 

TPD Floyd started the Initial Police dog course but he struggled to adapt to the kennels, being on the big dog van and the course environment. 

 In terms of his working ability he has consistently been one of the top performers since he was a puppy. His temperament has always been exceptional in terms of his sociability to people, other animals and dogs. 

Having watched him growing up and having seen the incredibly close relationship he has with his puppy walkers I have no doubt that he found leaving his family and going into our kennels incredibly stressful. 

He has been puppy walked by Simon, Rebecca and the girls Maddie and Krista. 

In the first 2 days of the course TPD Floyd showed defensive behaviour whilst being groomed and when having the tracking harness placed on him on a tracking session. As a result I took the decision that he should stay with me for further evaluation. 

TPD Floyd has now been living with me for 3 weeks and I have found him to be very social around people and other dogs. He is a very calm relaxed dog with very strong working drives. 

I have taken him into Exeter city centre on several occasions and he has been absolutely faultless and calm with everything that he has encountered. 

He has no possession issues around toys, food, bones or anything else. I have found that he is sensitive to being touched around his feet and legs which would explain his reaction to being groomed and having a harness fitted in those first few days. 

I have worked on this and he no longer has an issue with a harness being fitted and in the morning he drags me to the grooming table for our grooming session and titbits. 

Environmentally he is completely confident in all situations. He will now be staying with me and with the help of the two Initial courses I will train and develop him for his licensing assessments in early December. 

Summary of the Initial Course so far

The 13 week General purpose Initial Police dog course is without doubt the most demanding dog training course there is. What makes the course so demanding is the wide range of skills, disciplines and diversity of tasks that a General purpose Police dog has to master. 

The dogs will be conditioned to follow tracks or trails of criminals who have left a crime scene or of vulnerable missing persons across all types of terrain. Here is TPD Flint with John in the first week of their course already showcasing the tracking skills that all the F litter have developed since puppyhood.

 Here is Alex with TPD Franky in only week 2 already working on hard surface tracking for an article. 

 They will learn to search for outstanding criminals and vulnerable missing persons using air scent and to indicate to their handler when they have found them by barking. 

They will learn to deal with violent volatile crowds and to defend their handler against attack. They will learn to chase and detain a fleeing criminal and to disarm a criminal who is armed with a weapon. 

 Here is TPD Floyd showing the determination and tenacity that has been his trademark from the very beginning on the chase and detain exercise. 

Teaching the dogs to bite is never a problem but we must make sure that the dogs know that they must leave and return to their handler when instructed to do so.

Here are Phil’s course working with TPD Freddy on an exercise that will hopefully imprint in his brain that leaving on command is a positive experience. On this occasion the Instructor Phil also decided to assess whether TPD Freddy’s showed any adverse reaction to gunfire. 

As you will see TPD Freddy was completely bombproof and totally unaffected. 

As a general rule we don’t perform any agility work during the first 12 months due to their developing joints but the dogs now need to learn to negotiate all types of different obstacles such as fences, walls which they are likely to encounter on operational tracks and searches. 

The youngest dogs on the course are the F litter at 15 months. 

Here is Rhys with TPD Fozzy, completing the window jump. 

Here is Alex with TPD Franky in the early stages of learning to scale a high obstacle. 

 Here is TPD Ace completing a low hurdle which he could easily negotiate at 6’ if he wanted to but the objective on this occasion was to work on his down stay on the far side. 

Here is Alex with TPD Frank doing the long jump.

All of the dogs are taught to search and locate any outstanding or hidden items which are the subject of crime or any items of lost property. 

The dogs should not touch or pick up the items so as to preserve any DNA which may be on the article which could identify the offender. One of the methods we use is to hide articles in concrete blocks which the dogs cannot get to. 

They learn that by just pointing towards the article they will get their reward. Here is TPD Flo in the early stages of training the indication. Once the dog becomes reliable at indicating without trying to touch the item then the articles are taken out of the blocks. 

On the Friday of week 3 TPD’s Flo, Freddy, Flint and Floyd all performed their first tracks going from grass into undergrowth into any area which is a dog walking area.

I was especially interested to see how TPD Freddy got on with this exercise because he was getting very over excited on his tracking in the first week and was losing his way a little. Since then Phil has been hiding food on the track instead of hiding his toy and he has become much steadier and accurate.

As you can see this approach is really paying off and TPD Freddy was very focused and accurate on the track.

The course then went into Exeter city centre to do some environmental heelwork with the dogs wearing their halti head collars. They also took the dogs into a busy 2 storey shop which included some open stairs and different floor surfaces. 

 TPD Flo is used to walking in Exeter with her puppy walkers every Saturday morning and so took it all in her stride. 

Here is TPD Flint enjoying the sights. 

For a Police dog I believe environmental heelwork in busy urban towns and cities is essential because it helps them to maintain stable nerves and keeps them reliable and balanced in and around people. 

Well to summarise all of the teams are progressing well as they go into week 5 and at this early stage there are no areas of concern. I will be doing an update in 4 weeks time. 

From Ella, TPD Floyd and me bye for now. 

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