10.04 AM Thursday 28 August 2014

Dog Section

Dorset Police dog trainingThe dog has long been appreciated as man's best friend - and canine crimefighters are perhaps our best friends of all.

Highly trained dogs have played a vital role in the work of Dorset Police since 1953, when the county was among the first in Britain to set up a specialist section.

Since those far off days the force's dogs and their dedicated handlers have been involved continually in the front line of crime detection and deterrence, as well as acting as important ambassadors for police work to the general public.

Potential canine recruits are chosen for their excellent breeding and even temperament - vital qualities for the role they will play.

The German shepherds tend to be males, because they are bigger, while sniffer dogs can be male or female, as long as they have a brilliant nose for the job!

The regional training school and local instructors are involved in training the successful canine Dorset Police drugs dogcandidates in obedience, teamwork, tracking, how to search for people and objects and how to chase and hold suspects on the run. Sniffer dogs also receive specialist training to develop their sense of smell - already said to be 200 times more sensitive than the human version! The explosives dogs are also taught to bark and retreat when they identify suspect devices - allowing human experts to step in.

The dog handlers are permanently paired up with at least one German shepherd and sometimes a specialist dog as well. The dogs first meet their handlers when aged between 10 and 18 months and become full-time partners during a canine career that can last seven years. They often become lifelong companions, living as family pets with their handlers after retirement.

The Dorset Police Dog Section is based both at  Ferndown and at Weymouth. An Inspector, two sergeants and 18 constables are responsible for nearly 30 dogs - mainly German shepherds trained for general policing duties, together with labradors and springer spaniels that have received specialist coaching in sniffing out drugs or explosives.