Police dogs, why german shepherds are the best
The use of dogs in police work is by no means new. It has been traced as far back as the fourteenth century to St. Malo, France; however, it was not until 1895 that the French police made serious attempts to properly train dogs for police work. In 1896, Germany became interested in the idea and chose the German Shepherd dog.
The German Shepherd Dog is respected and admired throughout the world for its versatility, intelligence, and loyalty. It has existed as a recognized breed for a relatively brief period of time compared to other dog breeds. The early shepherd dogs of Germany were of several types suited to their environments. Coat length and texture, color, and build all varied but these types all possessed ruggedness, intelligence, soundness, and the ability to do specialized work.
Although dogs have worked alongside police forces for quite some time, formal training for police dogs is relatively recent. By the First World War, dogs were being trained for military duties, as messengers and guard dogs.
In the early 1930’s, one of the first Dog Sections was formed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Canadian author Delbert Young described how it came about: “Sergeant Cawsey owned a particularly clever German Shepherd he called Dale. He had trained Dale to retrieve objects, and also to scent out and locate articles he had hidden. The Sergeant was so proud of his big Shepherd he used to show the dog, taking him everywhere he went so that soon the sight of Sgt. Cawsey in his patrol car with the handsome dog beside him were a familiar sight.
“A step further and he was employing the dog to assist him in police work. So successful were the first experiments that the Dog Section was formed with Dale as its first member.”
Today, the most common breed for police work is the German Shepherd. The most important aspect of training is a very close bond with its handler, as a dog’s natural instinct is to please its pack leader — in this case, its handler.
A police dog’s sense of smell is more valuable than his bite. A German Shepherd’s sense of smell is much stronger than any human. Police dogs are called K-9’s. There are many different types of jobs for a police dog to do. They can sniff out drugs, bombs, and human bodies. They are also good at search and rescue and protecting people.
K-9 dogs are considered police officers and are cared for and respected just like any other police officer. In New Jersey a law called “Solo’s Law” was passed making it a crime to shoot and kill a K-9 dog. The law was named for a K-9 named Solo who was killed in the line of duty.
Once dogs can pass the tests for strength, sociability, and behavior they then go to a handler to live and train. It takes 14 weeks for dogs to learn to sniff out a new smell. Police start to train the dogs while playing hide-and-seek with a white towel. Then, they introduce new smells so they can find things like drugs, dead bodies, and even bombs! If a dog finds a bomb, he immediately sits down and doesn’t jump or go wild. In fact, the chemical (nitrate) they search for is found in VCR tapes, shoe polish, fertilizers, and … if you can believe it … in soda!
In the US, there is a nationwide effort going on to get bullet proof vests for k-9’s.
Dogs are carefully chosen and generally placed with their handlers while still puppies. Training begins with obedience and tracking exercises. They are also trained to chase and attack; although they are allowed to be aggressive, they are not trained to be vicious, and are trained to obey their handler.
Police dogs are commonly used today for searching and tracking, as well as in crowd situations or also in prisons where their presence can be intimidating as needed. But it should be remembered that one of the criteria for selction of police dogs is not their aggressive nature – but their intelligence and ability to be trained.