The K9 teams train for ten weeks in a basic patrol course, followed by another ten weeks of narcotics training. We use imported German Shepherds trained at Work Dogs International. Our dogs are chosen after a selection process which tests the individual dog’s temperament and his drive to work. We prefer dogs that have some training in Shutzhund, but we prefer they not be titled. Once the dogs arrive in the United States, the handlers attend a course at Work Dogs International. A good deal of time is spent training “in the muzzle." The dogs are trained to find and bark on passive suspects, and to bite and hold suspects that pose a threat or try to flee. The dogs are also trained in gunfire situations in case the handler or other officers must use their duty weapons.
When the dogs finish their initial street training and are comfortable working with their trainer in normal day to day situations, they attend a narcotics course. The dogs are trained to find narcotics with primary reward and aggressive alerts. Primary reward is an exercise in which the handler rewards the dog with play when he finds a toy containing narcotics. Aggressive alert is when the dog alerts by scratching or biting in the area where the narcotics are hidden.
The Canine Officers train every week for four hours with their individual dogs and also attend a monthly eight hour training session with the departmental trainer. The training sessions are held throughout the city in various buildings and open areas, allowing the dogs to train in the same environment where they perform their normal duties.