Do you take the dogs home with you?
Yes, we take the dogs home with us, where they sleep in a kennel. The dogs are our complete responsibility. Not only do we take them home with us, we feed them, bathe them, exercise them, and give them lots of love!
What language are the commands in? Why?
The dogs’ commands are in whatever language the dog is used to. Two of our dogs use German commands and one uses Czech commands. Other K-9s use commands in Dutch, Hungarian, or English. It is much easier for us to learn the 10 to 15 commands in another language than it is to have the dogs relearn a new language.
What are the dogs trained to do?
We have three patrol dogs and one narcotics detection dog. All three of the dogs are trained in suspect apprehension and evidence searches. One is cross trained in narcotics detection, one is cross trained in explosives and firearm detection, and one will be cross trained in firearms detection.
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, suspect apprehension, and obedience. The dogs rest at home during their days off to be ready to go when needed.
Do they come already trained?
Some of the dogs that we select to be a K-9 have a foundation in protection training and obedience. Once they come here, they attend a four week academy with their handler to fine tune their skills and obedience. Other dogs that we select are “green” dogs, which mean they do not have any previous training. Often, a “green” dog is more desirous because of the cheaper purchase price and the potential to build the dog up from scratch without having any prior bad habits.
How much do the dogs cost?
The current price for a police dog is approximately $12,000, not including the training. The initial cost for the training of the dog for patrol and detection is another $11,000. Therefore, the total cost to purchase and initially train one police dog is approximately $22,500. This does not include any maintenance training, equipment, or supplies, which adds up to thousands of dollars per K-9 team per year.
How old are they?
Typically, we select dogs that are approximately 18-months old. Some are younger and some are older. This age allows the dog to be out of the “puppy” stage where training might be difficult because of the normal distractions of puppy behavior. If the dog is much older than this when they start their career, then obviously their service life is reduced.
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.
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). The dogs assimilate to the handler’s family and are part of the home “pack.”
How does your family get along with the dog?
The dogs are all very good around their families. Part of the selection process of the dogs is their social balance. Not only do the dogs need to be tough enough to take down violent suspects, but they also need to flip the switch and have the ability to be social with people. Several of the handlers have children at home, and there are no issues what so ever between the children and the dogs.
What happens to the dog when they retire?
The City will sell the dog to the handler for $1 upon the dog’s retirement. This sales transaction releases the city from liability. Allowing the K-9 to remain in the home of his or her handler is the most humane way for the K-9 to enjoy his retirement.
Do they have their own badge?
The dogs were all sworn in as official police K-9s, and given a badge to wear around their neck.
Are they spayed/neutered?
Generally, the K-9s are left intact, expect in the case where we have a female dog, in which case it will be spayed. We have had male dogs in the past that were neutered due as a medical necessity. However, as long as the K-9 is older than 18-months old, spaying or neutering does not take away any necessary drives that a police dog needs to catch bad guys.
Where do the dogs come from?
In our K-9 history, we have purchased dogs from the United States, Germany, Serbia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.
Why do we purchase dogs from outside the U.S.?
When we select dogs, we do not limit ourselves to a certain breed or a specific country. We believe that choosing the dog that displays the best characteristics and drives supersedes being committed to a specific breed or country of origin. However, many dogs are purchased outside the U.S. because there is a larger pool of quality dogs to choose from in Europe. One of the main reasons is the strict rules they have overseas 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 bred. This in turn produces the best dogs in the world for the work needed to perform.
How long does it take to train police dogs?
Some breeders begin testing and training litters of puppies when they are 6 weeks old. One example of testing a puppy at a young age is to roll a ball under a couch. Many of the puppies will give up trying to get the ball since it is out of reach. However, the one persistent puppy that continues to try to get the ball for several minutes exhibits a high natural prey drive that is critical for police dogs. When a dog is selected by a department to be their next K-9, their initial patrol training takes several weeks. Narcotic or Explosive detection school usually takes 3-4 weeks. After the initial training, the K-9 teams are required to train consistently in order to maintain their skills. All of their training is documented in logs for court purposes in the future.
Who pays for the food, equipment, and training for the dogs?
All training, food, and equipment for the dogs is provided by generous donations from our community to the Glendale Police Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps the police department raise necessary funds. Without these donations we would not be able to provide the level of protection and service our dogs give to this community.
Where do the dogs stay when they're at home?
When the K-9s 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. Besides safety reasons, we keep our dogs in their kennel to allow them to rest and be ready for work. We are on-call 24/7, which means our dogs need to be well-rested when not actively working. If a handler does not allow the dog to rest on its days off, then the dog might not be able to perform when it counts.
Are they just like house pets when they're not working?
When the K-9s 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!
Do you need an article of clothing for the dogs to find the bad guy?
No. A frightened suspect running from the police will emit a strong "fear" scent, which the dogs can easily pick-up. During the "Fight or Flight" response, the body reacts to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, preparing the animal for fighting or fleeing. The body produces hormones, specifically epinephrine and norepinephrine. K-9s are natural hunters and are able to smell the release of these chemicals that are produced from suspects who are running from the police, much like their ancestor wolves were able to smell for fleeing prey that emitted similar fear scents.
Why do you use German Shepherds?
As previously stated, we do not select a dog based on its breed. We look at the characteristics and drives that are exhibited by each particular candidate dog. The most commonly used breeds for police and military dogs around the world are German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Both breeds have been used for police work for many years. They are both 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. Currently in Glendale, one of our K-9s is a German Shepherd, one is a Belgian Malinois, and one is a German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix.
Are the dogs mean?
Our K-9s 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.
How are the dogs around other animals?
The K-9s 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.
What do the dogs eat?
All of our dogs eat food that is very high in crude protein, which is necessary for building and maintaining strong organs and a healthy skin and coat. 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 their shift. Feeding them before work will cause them to be sleepy, just like after we eat a big meal.
How often do you wash the dogs?
We normally wash our K-9s once every three to four weeks. However, this may change due to weather conditions and individual needs of the dog.
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 K-9 requires strenuous physical activities such as running and jumping. If a police K-9 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 K-9.