Some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about our K9 teams
Q: Do you take the dogs home with you?
Yes, we take the dogs home with us, where they sleep in a specially constructed outdoor kennel. The dogs are the complete responsibility of the K9 Handler officer. Not only do we take them home with us, we feed them, bathe them, exercise them, and give them lots of love!
Q: Are the commands in German? Why?
The dogs commands are in German. Our police dogs come from Germany, and have already been trained in German commands. It is much easier for us to learn the 25-30 commands in German than it is to have the dogs relearn a new language.
Q: What are the dogs trained to do?
We have ten patrol dogs. All of the dogs are trained in suspect apprehension and hard surface tracking. One is specialty trained in narcotics detection, and one is cross trained in explosives detection.
Q: How often do you train with the dogs?
We train with the dogs every day on duty. Once a week we dedicate the entire day to training, which includes narcotics and explosive training, surface tracking, suspect apprehension and obedience. Off duty the dogs are also expected to maintain the same level of obedience.
Q: Do they come already trained?
In Germany, most of the dogs are given a foundation on suspect apprehension, and obedience. Once they come here, they attend a four week academy with their handler to fine tune their skills and obedience.
Q: How much do the dogs cost?
The cost of the dogs purchased in Germany vary anywhere from $4,500-$6,000 for the dog alone. An additional $6,000-$12,000 is then added to the initial purchase price depending on the level of training.
Q: How long will they be police dogs?
Patrol dogs typically can work anywhere from 5-7 years. A great deal depends on the health of the dog as it ages, and how old they were at the time of purchase.
Q: What do they do when they're at home?
Many of the dogs are like us when we're off duty. Their first day off, they simply want to rest and relax. Once the dogs have had some good sleep to recover from their long week, some handlers like to take them jogging, hiking or for nice walks around their neighborhood (since the dogs are expected to maintain a certain level of physical fitness).
Q: How does your family get along with the dog?
The dogs are all very good around their families. Several of the handlers have children at home, and there are no issues what so ever between the children and the dogs.
Q: What happens to the dog when they retire?
The City will sell the k9 to the handler for $1. This sales transaction releases the city from liability. Allowing the k9 to remain in the home of his or her handler is the most humane way for the K9 to enjoy his retirement.
Q: Do they have their own badge?
The dogs were all sworn in as official police K-9's, and are given a badge to wear around their neck, as well as body armor with POLICE markings when needed.
Q: Are they spayed/neutered?
Femals K9s are the only dog that are spayed. The reason for doing this is to prevent pregnancy. (Currently Tina is the only female K9 in the ranks.)The upside also is it usually does not effect the females high drive to work. The other dogs, all males, are not neutered do to the possibility their high drive may diminish after the procedure.
Q: Where did the dogs come from?
Most of our K9s are bred and intially raised in Germany. Initial vendor training and handling for police use is done here in the United States.
Q: Why did we purchase dogs from Germany?
The dogs are purchased from Germany for many reasons. The first is there is a larger pool to choose from in Europe and especially Germany. One of the main reasons is the strict rules the have to breed the dogs in order to keep the bloodlines strong. Another factor is the intense training and qualifications the dogs must go through just to be bread. This in turn produces the best dogs in the world for the work needed.
Q: Can the dogs to tricks?
Yes. Each dog has their own unique personality and specialties and do different tricks that their handlers have taught them.
Q: How long does it take to train police dogs?
The training for the dogs starts when they are 6 weeks old and continues throughout their career. Each dog is trained by the vendor prior to being accepted into the program and is usually 15 months to 3 years when they are assigned to a handler. We begin our training with a 4 week patrol school, then a 3 week drug detection or a 4 week explosive detection, and finally a 3 week tracking school.
Q: Who pays for the food, equipment, and training for the dogs?
All training, food, and equipment for the dogs is provided through budget items specific to the police department K9 program. Other times additional equipment may be obtained by generous donations from our community. Without these donations we would not be able to provide the level of protection and service our dogs give to this community.
Q: Where do the dogs stay when they're at home?
When the K9s are home, they stay in a kennel that keeps them safe and secured within our property. They are allowed outside of the kennel only if we are directly supervising them. They do not have "free range" of the yard due to liability concerns.
Q: Are they just like house pets when they're not working?
When the K9s are off-duty, they get to relax just like we do. They aren't allowed to do the normal things that house pets normally do, like jump on the couch or dig holes in the backyard. We try to keep their home life somewhat boring so that they are energized when it's time to go back to work. Remember, work for them is their play time!
Q: Do you need an article of clothing for the dogs to find you?
It depends what you are using the K9s for. If you are looking for a suspect in an area where no one is supposed to be (like a closed business or a vacant backyard), then the dog will search for whatever fresh human scent is in the area. A frightened suspect running from the police will emit a strong "fear" scent, which the dogs can easily pick-up. If you are attempting to track a specific odor (such as a missing person or a suspect who dropped a piece of evidence), then the dog needs to use a "scent article" to know which person he is looking for.
Q: Why do you use German Shepherds?
German Shepherds have been used for police work for many years. They are very versatile dogs who possess many qualities that are essential for the work that they do. They are strong, fast, agile, smart, loyal, and of course, have a great nose to sniff out bad guys, drugs, and explosives. They have a great demeanor, which allows us to introduce them to the public during demos.
Q: Are the dogs mean?
Our K9s are very personable animals. As many of you have seen during demos, our partners are very friendly to people of all ages. However, if a suspect tries to run away or fight a dog, the dog will defend itself and its handler.
Q: How are the dogs around other animals?
The K9s are trained to be "dog neutral", meaning that they shouldn't concern themselves with any other animal, whether it's another dog, cat, or squirrel. They are trained this way so that they do not become distracted during a search if another animal comes near.
Q: What do the dogs eat?
The dogs eat a high quality specialized dog food, for their type of work. It is very high in crude protein, which is necessary for building and maintaining strong organs and a healthy skin and coat. This high quality dog food also helps reduce the chance of bloat and torsion, conditions that could be deadly for dogs. They normally eat once a day at the end of our shift. Feeding them before work will cause them to be sleepy, just like after we eat a big meal.
Q: How often do you wash the dogs?
We normally wash our K9s once a week. We utilize a self service dog wash to keep our dogs clean and smelling good.
Q: What is their service life?
Ideally, we would anticipate the service life of our dogs to be until the age of 8 or 9 years old. However, this age depends on many things. The daily job of a police k9 requires strenuous physical activities such as running and jumping over 6 foot walls. If a police k9 is sick or injured and cannot carry out the day-to-day job functions, the handler and department must make a decision to retire the k9.
|Meet the K9s and K9 Handlers Class of 2008-09!|