What Is K9 Training For Dogs

In that these dogs take on a significant and particular job, such as drug detection, general patrol, or bomb detection, police K9 training is very different from traditional dog obedience training. However, the dogs aren’t completely responsible for their performance; their handlers also contribute significantly.

What exactly does police K9 training entail, and how do these canines pick up the incredible skill sets they do during training? In this blog post, we address a number of your queries in addition to others.

What do K9 canines do?

These breeds are renowned for their extraordinary working prowess, desire to assist their handlers, and, in some instances, their determination in pursuing criminals. Some police canines are single-purpose, which means they only carry out one function. Others are dual-purpose, which means they are skilled in a number of jobs. What precisely do police dogs perform, though?


Suspect apprehension is arguably the most common use of the police dog. Police dogs are taught to bite and hold captive dangerous suspects. They frequently act as the first to risk their life and confront an armed suspect in order to defend their human counterparts. Herding breeds like the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd Dogs, and Dutch Shepherds make up the majority of fearful dogs. Herding breeds have been bred for hundreds of years to have the physical prowess and brains necessary to work with their masters to herd livestock—qualities they also require to confine a dangerous individual. Nevertheless, they must be sound canines that can only respond to their handlers’ commands and recognise when someone poses a threat.


It goes without saying that dogs have a keen sense of smell. When battling crime, we take advantage of the fact that dogs have 225 million scent receptors in their noses (compared to humans’ 5 million). Dogs are frequently taught to recognise various drugs, explosives, accelerants (when examining fires), and other crime scene evidence when it comes to criminal behaviour. The canines are capable of carrying out their duties everywhere, but they are most frequently used to check for explosives and illegal narcotics at airports and border crossings, at major gatherings, and even in stopped civilian vehicles. In order to safeguard their handlers and other personnel from harm, military dogs are also trained to recognise landmines.

Search and Rescue

Finding missing people who have gone lost or who have been kidnapped is a significant portion of the work done by police. Dogs can be taught to locate both live victims and the remains of deceased people during search and rescue operations. After a catastrophic explosion, earthquake, or other calamity, they can search among the debris. They can search for a lost hiker or someone buried after an avalanche over miles and miles of woodland, and they can even find the bodies of drowned victims submerged in lakes and oceans. Dogs are an excellent resource for searching for victims since they can cover enormous regions in a short amount of time. Despite the crucial and irreplaceable role that human searchers play, search and rescue canines are able to do the task with exceptional accuracy.

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K9 stands for what in a dog?

A dog that has been specially trained to support law enforcement personnel is known as a police dog, often known as K-9 or K9 (a homophone of the word canine). Since the Middle Ages, dogs have been used in law enforcement. German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are the most frequently utilised breeds, although there are several other breeds that are represented and have certain special skills. For example, Labrador Retrievers, Bloodhounds, and Basset Hounds are renowned for their tracking, trailing, and detection abilities. Police K-9s typically serve in the police for 6 to 9 years and are used extensively throughout the United States for law enforcement purposes. The deliberate harming or killing of a police dog is a crime in many nations.

To work for the police, a dog must first successfully complete basic obedience training. For effective control, the dogs must be able to instantly respond to and carry out their handler’s commands.

Police K-9s typically fall into one of two categories:

Patrol: These dogs are employed for patrol work, including guarding officers, apprehending criminal suspects, clearing buildings or places, and providing security in restricted or sensitive areas.

Detection: These dogs are used to either discover explosives OR illegal drugs. Keep in mind that there is just one option.

Law enforcement dogs are taught to serve a single objective or two purposes.

Single-purpose canines are typically utilised for patrol or detection work. We also have K9s that are trained specifically for tracking, finding missing people, or cadaver detecting.

These tasks can be combined in one K9 thanks to training for dual purpose canines. When a drug detection K-9 alerts its handler that it has smelled drugs while inspecting a vehicle’s perimeter in the United States, the officer has justification to conduct a warrantless search of the entire car.

Are K9 canines taught to bite?

Dogs are frequently used to support law enforcement. They can aid in the detention of a suspect, the pursuit of a suspect (by tracking him), the identification of a suspect (by his scent), the detection of illegal substances—such as bombs and controlled substances like illegal drugs—the prevention of crime, the protection of officers, and the management of crowds.

Under some situations, testimony demonstrating that a dog pursued or tracked a fleeing suspect to the location where he was hiding may be admissible. (See People v. Malgren (1983) 139 Cal.App.3d 234, 237-238, which was overturned on other grounds in People v. Jones (1991) 53 Cal.3d 1115, 1144-1145 (allowing evidence that the defendant was tracked from the victims’ house to some bushes less than one mile from the house, with the dog on the trail within a half-hour of the incident); and People v. Craig (1978) 86 Cal.App.3d 90 In contrast, People v. Gonzales (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 403 overturned a conviction in which the defendant was discovered by a dog in a vineyard less than a mile from a house that had been broken into 30 minutes previously.

If the methods for scent tracking are accepted and a solid foundation is established for the admissibility throughout trial, testimony that a dog recognised a suspect by his scent may be acceptable. People v. Willis (2004) __ Cal.App.4th ___, 2004 DJDAR 1010; Kondaurov v. Kerdasha, 271 Va. Review the discussion below.

In most cases, testimony that a dog informed police of the existence of illegal narcotics is accepted. Place v. United States, 462 U. S. 696 (1983). The police have the right to use a drug-sniffing dog to wander around the car and look for the presence of illicit narcotics within it as long as the traffic stop is justified by probable cause. This is true even when cops are pulling someone over for a normal traffic citation. (Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U. S. (2005), docket no. 03-923.)

Example of a dog scent case

Crystal Stahl, Ryan Willis’ former girlfriend, was murdered in the first degree, according to the charges. While they were dating, Willis was seen by many to physically abuse Stahl. After Stahl and Willis broke up, he threatened to kill her by torching her taxi, according to his buddies. A few weeks later, Stahl’s burned-out body was discovered in her onfire taxi.

The state presented proof that a bloodhound had picked up Willis’ scent at the crime site during the trial. Willis objected, claiming that the technology used in scent transfer units (STUs) was not supported by science. The STU testimony was accepted by the trial court. Willis was found guilty.

The evidence should not have been accepted, the Court of Appeal found despite upholding the conviction. The dependability of new scientific methods must be established prior to use in court. Since the dog trainer who testified on behalf of the state was not a scientist, he was ineligible to vouch for STU’s widespread acceptance in the scientific world. There was no evidence the handler utilised the STU in a proper scientific manner. There were also a number of fundamental flaws because it is not apparent how long a perfume lingers on items or whether each individual has a distinctive scent. As a result, it was decided that the STU evidence was illegally accepted by the trial court.

There was, however, a lot of proof that Willis was guilty. The Court of Appeal believed that in the absence of the STU evidence, it was not improbable that the jury would have come to a different conclusion. The conviction was upheld because the trial court’s error was seen as harmless. (People v. Willis, 2004 DJDAR 1010; Cal. App. 4th; ).

A number of difficulties are illustrated by the Willis case. The trial judge determines whether or not evidence is admissible in all states. The People v. Kelly (1976) 17 Cal.3d 24 rule is followed by California judges where the evidence is ostensibly scientific. New scientific methods are subject to the Kelly rule, particularly when they involve innovative tools or procedures. A new approach must pass a three-part reliability test in order to safeguard the jury against scientific methods that give off an unwarranted aura of certainty. The technique must first be supported by evidence that it is regarded as dependable by the scientific community. Second, the witness who is testifying on the method ought to be an authority on it. Third, there needs to be evidence that the test’s conductor followed the right scientific methods. When the evidence is so alien to normal experience that it is difficult for laypeople to judge only using their own common sense and good judgement, analysis is required. (People v. Mitchell, 110 Cal.App.4th at pages 772–772, 2003.)

The STU testimony was deemed to be flawed in various ways by the Court of Appeal in the Willis case. The dog handler could not attest to the STU’s acceptance by the scientific community because he was not a scientist. Additionally, there was no evidence that the dog handler used the STU in a proper scientific manner. The court established the following guidelines for future prosecutors to follow in order to make this evidence admissible:

A foundation must be established from academic or scientific sources regarding (a) how long scent remains on an object or at a location; (b) whether every person has a scent that is so distinctive that it provides a reliable basis for scent identification, such that it can be compared to human DNA; (c) whether a specific breed of dog is characterised by acute powers of scent and discrimination; and (d) the suitability of the certification processes for scent identifications. (See People v. Mitchell, supra, 110 Cal.App.4th, at pp. 791–792).

Controversy about misuse

A police watchdog group charged the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in October 2013 for using its canines excessively to bite criminals rather than track them down and corner them. Even worse, it was discovered that Black and Latino people made up the vast bulk of the victims. The comments of attorney Kenneth M. Phillips are included in the NPR piece In Los Angeles County, It’s ‘Bark and Hold’ vs. ‘Find and Bite’.

Experts concur that using canines in law enforcement is appropriate as long as the dogs are kept up to date on their training and the handlers are given suitable supervision. However, it is well known that many dogs leave training because their handlers encourage them to bite people. In addition, the handlers are not adequately monitored, which could lead to avoidable injuries to bystanders. Police canines should be educated as officers, not equipment, according to Alexandra Semyonova’s in-depth piece, published at Animals 24/7.

To get rid of these issues, bite events should be carefully examined to see if the dog was required, the handler gave the right directions, the dog complied with the commands, and the use of force was appropriate. To ascertain whether dogs are employed against some persons and not others, it is also important to track the seriousness of the offence, the victim’s behaviour, and their individual traits like race and ethnicity.

Dangerousness of police and military dogs

Police dogs’ training makes them extremely hazardous. They learn how to bite and hold suspects of felonies in order to subdue them. The greater force used in this bite-and-hold technique causes a variety of injuries, including deep puncture wounds, severe crush wounds, large tissue avulsions and lacerations, wounds requiring surgical dbridement, bony injuries ranging from cortical violations to displaced fractures, neurovascular damage, and other wounds that are highly susceptible to infection.

How come it’s called K9?

The phrase “K9” or “K-9” comes from the French and English word “CANINE,” which is short for “dog.” NINE=9 and CA=K are the same as YOU TOO=U2.

The term “K-9” was apparently first used in 1942. Robert P. Patterson, the US Secretary of War, established the nation’s first military K-9 Corps in that year. The US Army later registered the wordmark “K-9” as a federal symbol at the USA Trademark Office in 1959. Since then, the designations K-9 or K9 have been frequently used to refer to all dogs, including working dogs and assistance dogs.

How do police canines decide who to pursue?

Police canine partners reside together. A K-9 unit is a group of people who work together seven days a week, around-the-clock.

Breston and Officer Smith typically get up early to assist other neighbourhood K-9 teams conducting drug sweeps at schools. These inspections strongly suggest that narcotics won’t be permitted at schools and that those who bring them will be apprehended. On the owner’s instruction, the K-9 unit also does drug searches at nearby companies.

Officer Smith and Breston occasionally had to appear in court, either to testify against a criminal they arrested or to defend themselves against a claim that Breston had unfairly damaged someone. Although these claims are commonly made, as we’ll see later, a police dog’s training history provides solid proof that no excessive force was applied.

The K-9 unit has already had a hectic day by the time it is 4 p.m. However, their actual patrol duty runs from 4 p.m. to midnight, which is also when police departments want their canines to be on the streets and when it is busiest.

Each eight-hour shift entails a lot of waiting, followed by small spurts of activity when a radio call comes in, just like most police work. The K-9 squad responds to calls by sending out a special police vehicle with a place in the back for the dog. In Breston’s situation, he is permitted to travel in an SUV that has a separate compartment for him and another for suspects who have been arrested. The unit could be asked to perform a routine task like calling a tow truck to remove an abandoned car or they could be ordered to find a suspect who has run away from the scene of a burglary. The majority of police canines are cross-trained, allowing them to find persons as well as drugs. They learn to smell for both the scent trail that a person leaves on the ground as well as the scent “cone” that flows downwind from a person when they are nearby in the air. Air scenting is crucial because a dog can detect when a suspect turns around to ambush the officer.

They must return home for a restful night’s sleep after their eight-hour duty is through. As you can see, there is a full schedule, and training days aren’t even included. The K-9 unit will train for eight hours every week to two weeks to maintain the dog’s proficiency.


When a police dog is conducting a drug search, he may quickly cover a large area. Human cops would need ten times longer to search the same area and would still not be able to find anything a canine can sniff out.