German Shepherds have been trusted police dogs over the years because of their intelligence, their trainability, their protection and their sense of smell. Another dog making an appearance as a police dog is the Belgian Malinois. This dog has many of the same characteristics of the German Shepherd, but is thought to be more reactive than the German Shepherd. Some agencies have begun to prefer the Belgian Malinois. Pit bulls are also starting to be used.
Because German Shepherd dogs are a popular pet in the United States, their natural aggressive and protective qualities have been diminished through breeding. Other breeds used for task specifics jobs include Giant Schnauzers, Blood Hounds, Rottweilers, Boxers and Doberman Pinschers.
Police dogs assist in the day-to-day work of a police officer; however, some dogs have specific training. There are search and rescue dogs that help to locate and find missing people or objects. There are cadaver dogs that are used to locate decaying bodies, their sense of smell so strong they can smell a cadaver underneath the water. Detection dogs and explosive searching dogs can locate drugs and explosives. Arson dogs can smell trances of accelerants that were used to start a fire.
Regardless of the specific task that the dog is trained for, all dogs must begin with basic obedience training. It is vital that a police dog obeys the commands of its handler above all else. After obedience training the dog is involved in agility and endurance training, which helps prepare the dog for obstacles it may encounter in a city or working environment. Finally, the dog is trained for its specific task like those mentioned above.
With a sense of smell 50 times stronger than a human’s sense of smell, a police dog is able to complete tasks that might be too dangerous or too time consuming for other police officers. Because of these great attributes, it is no surprise that a police dog is considered a member of the force.
The Nevada City Police Department has recently acquired a German Shepherd, Rudiger, its first K9 officer! We hope he will be the first of many dogs trained by the police to protect the officers and assist in drug detection throughout Western Nevada County. Rudiger’s handler, officer Scott Goin, said that specialized training of every police dog costs $300 a month. You can help support the K9 program by sending checks in any amount payable to the Sean M. Walsh Foundation to: Western Nevada County K9 Association, PO Box 2174, Nevada City, CA 95959. Your donations are tax-deductible.
Lastly, we want to extend a special thank you to Dr. Susan Murphy at Four Paws Animal Clinic in Nevada City for donating free medical services for Rudiger’s future care. This is a very generous gift to the police department and our community.