Makes A Working Dog
Drive, temperament, solid nerves, and excellent health. This is what makes a working police dog, and this describes our dogs best.
First let's talk about DRIVE. Briefly stated there are many forms of drive. There is fight drive, defensive drive, prey drive, praise drive, sexual drive, food drive, and many others. All dogs have varying levels of these drives but in order to be a true police dog it must be to the maximum in some.
Our dogs have extreme prey drive. This is the drive to chase a ball and retrieve. Many dogs have some degree of prey drive. Some will have none at all. Dogs with no prey drive hardly take notice to a ball being thrown. While others with mild prey drive will gallup after the ball but not retrieve it. Others with medium prey drive will return it to you. Still others with high prey drive will run after the ball and return it. But a police dog must have extreme prey drive. The dog must be so obsessed with retrieving it would do it until it dropped dead if you let it. These dogs will tear after a ball so hard it's like their life depended on it.
One of the best examples of extreme prey drive that I can tell you about was a demonstration we were giving to a small group of people about 10 years ago with our first tracking dog. We were demonstrating the characteristics of prey drive when I took the ball and threw it over the fence into the field. The fence is 4 foot high with an electric fence wire around the top. The dog was fully aware of the hot wire on top and did not dare put his feet up on the fence and try to climb. We had done this many times before and normally the dog would run back and forth along the fence line for a while and then sit there and stare at the ball. The drive was so extreme that he would sometimes sit there for several hours. On this day we took our guests back into the house expecting when we came back out he would still be sitting by the fence. When we did come back out 30 minutes later he was sitting by the door covered with dirt -with his ball!! This dog had actually dug under this fence and got his ball which certainly was no easy task considering the ground is solid hard packed clay.
A perspective candidate for a police K-9 must have this level of prey drive. This drive is utilized in every form of training for the police dog and in all working situations. For the law enforcement officer it's that drive that makes your K-9 not want to give up searching for those drugs or that keeps the tracking dog on the trail of those felons you're chasing. For the search and rescue it's this same drive that helps you find that lost child or disoriented elderly person that has wandered off, and for the executive and personal protection these same drives form the foundation for all your necessary training.
Temperament is the dog's expression of it's personality reacting to different situations. It's seen everyday in all aspects of the dog's life. There are so many words and ways to describe a dog's temperament. Just as there is so many different dogs.
For a police dog the temperament must be that of total dedication and want to please the handler, most of which comes from bonding at an early age. It must be of happiness and joy to work and extreme curiosity. It must be of total confidence that nothing will intimidate it. It must also have an extreme love of people especially children unless it is threatened. A police dog must be fully capable of handling a wanted felon that is throwing things at the dog and at the same time must be able to be capable of giving a demonstration to a first grade class.
When we talk about the dogs nerves a lot of the discussion relates closely to the temperament. A police dog must have solid nerves so that it does not faulter on it's assignments. A dog with solid nerves will not back down from a challenge. It will not be scared off by a stressful situation. Nor will it loose it's drive because of a strong correction. An example of a dog with weak nerves is when it cowers or urinates when you correct it for bad behavior. Very often you will find breeders of show dogs advertising that their dogs can be used for police work, and occasionally (but rarely) you can find some show dogs that can track or do some drug work with proper training. But never could these dogs be utilized for full patrol duties. Show dogs lack the nerves and temperament to face the challenges of patrol work.
If you are a police officer or police administrator searching for a K-9 candidate stay away from show dog lines that could jeopardize the lives of officers and the citizens you serve.
A major building block of a police dog is excellent health. Many law enforcement agencies across the U. S. often solicit for free dogs from people or dog pounds for possible K-9 candidates and there have been many success stories for drug detection applications. Additionally, often much funding and time is often lost due to a dog's health failing soon after completing training. Here at Dunhill K-9's only the finest dogs are considered for breeding. To be considered for breeding our working dogs must be in absolute perfect health. Our breeding dogs are from some of the oldest and strongest working German blood lines. All of our breeding dogs have certified hips by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.