How To Train My German Shepherd Like A Police Dog

Our writers & fact checkers independently research, test, analyze, and recommend the best motorcycle products. We may receive commissions from purchases made via our links.

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Key Takeaways

  • Training a German Shepherd as a police dog requires time, dedication, and specialized training techniques.
  • Socialization, obedience, agility, and scent detection are all critical elements of police dog training.
  • Successful police dog training culminates in a rigorous certification test assessing the dog's abilities across various tasks.

One of the most intelligent dogs is the German Shepherd. That’s one reason why they respond so well to police training. But what does it take to do it?

To train a German Shepherd like a police dog, start with basic training and obedience commands. Once they show good behavior, you can move them towards more intense programs like agility and scent training. There are also local training clubs or professional trainers who can help.

In this article, we will explore the various aspects of training your German Shepherd to be a police dog, from understanding the role of a police dog to preparing for the certification test. After speaking with multiple dog trainers and knowing this dog breed well, we’ve compiled the best guide for you.

In this article

How To Train German Shepherd Like A Police Dog

German Shepherds are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility, which makes them excellent candidates for the role of a police dog. Training a German Shepherd to become a police dog requires time, dedication, and a well-structured training program.

Police dogs are vital in law enforcement, assisting their human counterparts in various tasks. They get trained so that they can alert the officer when something is wrong. For example, if the dog is trained for drugs search and the German Shepherd dog barks, then the cop knows to check the person the dog is barking at.

These dogs have an incredible sense of smell, allowing them to detect even the faintest scent left behind by a person. Once they pick up a trail, the German Shepherd dog alerts the officer. They are relentless in their pursuit, following the scent until they locate the suspect.

Obedience Training

Obedience training lays the groundwork for all further training. It involves teaching your German Shepherd basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel. These skills will also come in handy for a guard dog at home. The key is to start slow by having your dog sit first.

Obedience training establishes a strong bond between you and your dog and teaches them to respond to your commands promptly and reliably. This should be the first step for any puppy, including a new German Shepherd dog.

Socialization Skills

Socialization is crucial for a police dog as they will be exposed to various environments, people, and situations during their careers. Starting your German Shepherd dog puppy with classes or bringing them around other dogs is the best way to improve socialization.

Exposing German Shepherd dogs to different people, animals, and environments ensures they are comfortable and confident. This will come in handy if they end up becoming police dogs.

Agility Training

Agility training focuses on developing your dog's physical abilities, coordination, and flexibility. This training helps them navigate different obstacles, climb objects, and jump over barriers, which is essential for tasks such as searching buildings or chasing suspects.

This is much more advanced than teaching dogs obedience. So to get a dog police ready, inquire about police dog or guard dog training for these skills. To undertake guard dog training alone is a tall task.

Scent Detection Training

Scent detection training is a critical aspect of police dog training. German Shepherds have a remarkable sense of smell, making them ideal for sniffing out narcotics or explosives. Training them to identify and indicate the presence of specific scents is essential in their role as police dogs.

Scent detection means the German Shepherd barks to alert the officers once the dog smells something. This is common in airports or around borders looking for drugs and weapons.

Preparing for the Police Dog Certification Test

Before your German Shepherd can become a certified police dog, it must pass a rigorous certification test. Understanding what to expect during the test and preparing adequately is crucial for success.

You can inquire about putting your dog into a dog training club like a Local Schutzhund club. This can get them trained faster and help you learn some advanced obedience training techniques.

What to Expect During the Test

The certification test assesses your dog's abilities in various areas, such as obedience, search and detection, and apprehension techniques. They will be evaluated on their performance and proficiency in these tasks, so it's vital to ensure they are well-prepared.

Tips for Passing the Test

To increase your chances of passing the certification test, consider the following tips:

  • Consistent and regular training sessions
  • Expose your dog to different environments and scenarios
  • Practice each task thoroughly
  • Work with an experienced trainer or handler
  • Stay positive and patient throughout the training process

Training your German Shepherd to be a police dog is a challenging yet rewarding journey. With proper training and dedication, your German Shepherd can fulfill their role as a valuable member of law enforcement, ensuring the safety and well-being of your community.

How Long Does Training Take For A Police Dog?

The training process for a police dog varies depending on the specific tasks the dog will be required to do, but generally, it can take anywhere from several months to over a year. Here's a general timeline:

  1. Basic Obedience Training: This typically starts when the puppy is around eight weeks old and can last up to a year. This includes house training and commands like sit, stay, come, etc.
  2. Specialized Training: Once the basic obedience training is complete, specialized training begins. This could include tasks like detection work (for drugs, explosives, etc.), search and rescue, patrol work, and more. This training can last another 3-6 months on average.
  3. Continued Training: Police dogs continue training throughout their career to maintain their skills, learn new ones, and adapt to changing circumstances. This is a part of their routine.

So, from when a puppy begins training to when it's ready to start working as a fully trained police dog, you're usually looking at a process that lasts anywhere from 1 to 2 years, sometimes even longer.

Guard Dog vs Police Dog: What's The Difference?

German Shepherd dogs are natural watchdogs, and they can be trained as guard dog naturally because of their instincts. It’s rare to see this breed trained and acting out. For example, when a dog wrongly bites someone, this is due to the training.

Dog training for the police force is a demanding dog sport. While there is overlap in some of the skills they possess, guard dogs and police dogs serve different functions and thus receive different types of training.

Guard Dogs

Guard dogs are generally trained to watch over and protect property, whether it's a personal residence, a business, or another type of property. The primary role of a guard dog is deterrence.

They are trained to alert their owners or handlers of the presence of intruders by barking or acting in a way that would scare off potential threats. Some guard dogs may also be trained to physically intervene or keep an intruder at bay until help arrives.

Guard dogs come in many breeds, including German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers, among others. Their training often focuses on obedience, alerting to strangers, and, in some cases, defensive measures.

Police Dogs

Police dogs, also known as K9 units, serve a much broader set of functions and receive specialized training based on the needs of the police force they serve. Like guard dogs, they can detect and deter intruders, but they're also trained to perform tasks such as:

  • Tracking: They can follow the scent trail left by a suspect or missing person.
  • Detection: They can detect illicit substances like drugs or explosives.
  • Apprehension: They can chase down and hold suspects until human officers arrive.

The popular dog breed for police dogs includes German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois, selected for their intelligence, strength, and trainability. Training is intensive and ongoing, often requiring refresher courses and continuous skill development throughout the dog's career.

How To Know If Your German Shepherd Can Be a Police Dog

Before embarking on the training journey, it is essential to assess your German Shepherd's suitability for police work. Several factors need to be considered, including their physical requirements and behavioral traits.

Physical Requirements for a Police Dog

Police dogs are expected to be in top physical condition to perform their duties effectively. They should have good musculature, endurance, and overall health. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are critical for maintaining their physical fitness.

To meet these physical requirements, German Shepherds undergo rigorous training and conditioning. They are put through various exercises and activities that build their strength and stamina.

This includes running, agility training, and obstacle courses. A healthy diet consisting of high-quality protein and essential nutrients is provided to ensure their muscles and bones develop properly.

Behavioral Traits to Look For

In addition to physical fitness, certain behavioral traits are desirable in a police dog. These traits include:

  • Good temperament and stability
  • A strong desire to please and work
  • A natural instinct to protect and defend
  • Good social skills and an ability to interact with people

German Shepherds are known for their intelligence and trainability, making them well-suited for police work. They are quick learners and have a strong desire to please their handlers.

This combination of intelligence and eagerness to work allows them to quickly grasp and execute commands, making them highly effective in various law enforcement tasks.