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  • CPS - Jonathan Dorriety

    International Training Standards

     By Jonathan Dorriety, Adjunct Faculty for Kaplan University's Public Safety Program 

    It is common knowledge that dogs have a nose for crime, literally. Their keen olfactory senses far exceed that of humans to the degree that no two scientists can agree on how sensitive they really are. Nonetheless, police service dogs have proven to be a great asset to the law enforcement community in the United States since the mid-1950s.

    Several organizations in the United States provide training and certifications for police service dogs. Some of these include the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA), North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA), National Police Canine Association (NPCA), and the National Narcotics Detector Dog Association (NNDDA). All of these organizations have instructors, usually working for a law enforcement agency, who provide training.

    Some agencies have adopted the German style of police dog training founded at the Landespolizeischule für Diensthundführer (State Police School for Service Dog Handlers) in Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, Germany, that trains according to what is known as the PSP regulation (Polizeischutzhundprüfung or Police Service Dog Examination). In addition, many instructors across the United States are certified to train according to the PSP standard. The German training standards are known to be some of the most rigorous in the field. Only dogs with the strongest working drives are selected for police work and only after passing a strenuous selection test. The training is extensive, requiring the dogs to perform tasks around various distractions and to stay focused on the job.

    In the field of criminal apprehension, the German police introduced utilization of the agitation muzzle into police K-9 criminal apprehension training in the mid- to late 1950s. Introducing the muzzle solved the problem of the dog’s fixation on a person’s arm or looking for a sleeve. This has caught on in the United States as a distinct advantage in police K-9 training, where the dog learns to fight the person and not a piece of equipment.

    Sometimes the German style of police training is often mistaken for the German dog sport of Schutzhund. Although there are some similarities in appearance, the differences are easily seen. Schutzhund is a sport, much like softball, soccer, or football, except it involves dogs competing in various working exercises.

    Many U.S. agencies may seek to purchase prospective dogs from Germany and other European countries because of the working drives and quality of dogs available.  Because the German police dog teams are trained in a wide variety of environments, such as businesses, factories, farms, homes, train yards, shipping yards, and schools, they can be reliably utilized in multiple surroundings without the dog being distracted. This helps to ensure the end result will be a police service dog team of handler and dog capable of working together in any situation. 

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