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Sniffer or Detection Dogs & Police Dogs

United States of America

South Coast K9 Training – Florida, U.S.A. training video

Remember if you get a dog for personal protection or to protect your family, the dog can’t fire a gun, but an armed intruder can.  So, if you have your dog leashed out-doors within firing range, your dog is at risk of being shot and killed by an intruder with a gun, despite the dog’s barking waking you up so you can then get your gun – or run out the other door.

A police dog is trained specifically to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel in their work.  Police dogs are often referred to as “K-9s” (a homophone or play on the word “canine”). The most commonly used breeds are the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois.   In many jurisdictions the intentional injuring or killing of a police dog is a felony and a growing number of law-enforcement organizations outfit dogs with bullet proof vests, police badges and ID collars. Furthermore, a police dog killed in the line of duty is often given a full police funeral.   See  here  for police dog equipment and the history of police dogs in the U.S.A.

European dogs are chosen because they have the drive to keep on fighting when injured (but this doesn’t mean all dogs of these breeds would) . It takes a physically and mentally strong dog to do that, and the dogs that are chosen to be trained also have to be very intelligent and intuitive, able to ‘read’ situations, quick at learning and responsive to the handler.   Some police dogs, usually male dogs, get injured or even killed by criminals that carry knives or guns.


AUTHORITIES have issued a warning to passengers entering Australian airports with gifts over Christmas – we’ll be smelling you.

Thirty-seven sniffer dogs will be on duty at Sydney’s international airport and mail centre as part of a nationwide push to protect Australian borders.

More than 7000 high-risk items have been seized in Sydney over the past year, including sausages and fruit and veg, as well as animal skulls, a taxidermy wild boar and goat hooves.

And with the traditional Christmas spike in incoming packages, border authorities are on high alert, Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig says.

“At Christmas time we know there’s about a seven per cent increase in passenger movements and mail, so we make sure there are staff available to meet that demand,” Senator Ludwig told reporters in Sydney on Monday.


Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) agents will be keeping a keen nose out for various threatening items, including fresh plant material such as seeds and cuttings and decorations like pine cones.

Senator Ludwig said the multi-billion dollar horticulture and citrus industries were particularly keen to ensure pests and diseases were not introduced into Australia.

He urged everyone to play their part to help them.

“What’s really critical when you come into Australia is to declare (any items),” he said.

Source:    News.com.au 

Detector Dog Program –
Working with dogs to help protect Australia

The Detector Dog Program (DDP) is an important enforcement capability within Customs and Border Protection. Detector dogs play an important role in the detection of illicit drugs, precursors, firearms and weapons.

A detector dog team is generally comprised of one dog and one handler. There are a total of 61 dogs located around Australia including:

  • 44 Narcotic Detector Dogs (NDD), and
  • 17 Firearm and Explosive Detector Dogs (FEDD)

Detector dogs are deployed in all Customs and Border Protection operational environments, including airports, seaports, cargo depots and international mail centres. Detector dog teams receive taskings from Customs and Border Protection operational areas with these taskings being as a result of risk based intelligence.

Customs and Border Protection detector dogs also support Federal, State and Territory police and other government agencies in search operations (e.g. premise searches).

Detector dogs compliment all other detection technologies used by Customs and Border Protection, such as x-ray and trace detection.

The DDP is continually looking for ways to improve training methods and new applications for detector dog teams.

Customs and Border Protection has a Labrador breeding program which evolved due to a world shortage of quality detector dogs.  Since its inception in 1993, the program has grown to become one of the leading breeding programs throughout the world.

Customs and Border Protection trains its own officers as well as officers from a wide range of domestic and international agencies. Domestically, Customs and Border Protection has provided training for officers from the Australian Federal Police, State and Territory Police, State Corrections Services, and the Australian Defence Forces.

Source:    Customs Australia

United Kingdom

This part describes the life, work and training of the UK Border Agency’s detector dogs.

Detector dogs, also known as ‘sniffer dogs’, have been helping to protect the UK’s border against smugglers since 1978. Initially they were used solely to detect drugs, but since then we have developed our understanding of what they can do and how to get the best results from them.

Today we have 67 operational dogs based around the UK. They are deployed at passenger and freight entry points at airports, sea ports, international rail stations and postal depots.

Dogs have a very acute sense of smell. Our dogs have been trained to search for concealed drugs, tobacco, cash, animal-based products and firearms, as well as people. Having detected a trained scent, they can pinpoint the exact location of the scent’s source by sitting and staring (known as passive indication).

Highly adaptable and trained in all areas of our working environment, our dogs can quickly search large consignments of freight and get into hard-to-reach places – and their unassuming, friendly nature allows them to quietly mingle among travellers without causing unnecessary annoyance.

The dogs work hard all day, but to them it’s just a game of hide and seek. When they find a scent, they are rewarded by their handler through play, usually with a tennis ball.

A detector dog begins its training at an early age, usually when it is about 1 year old. Gun dog breeds such as labradors and springer spaniels are the first choice, mainly because of their enthusiasm and natural ability to retrieve. Potential dogs come from a variety of sources: the police, rescue centres, other established contacts and the public.

Some dog teams are trained in-house by a regional dog inspector, but many are trained by the Metropolitan Police at its training school in Kent. During an intensive 8-week course, the dogs learn how to recognise a specific scent – usually drugs. They then train for a further 5 weeks at their future place of work, where they are trained to detect more scents.

All our dogs live in kennels within or close to their working environment. When it is time for work, they are transported in purpose-built vans that act as mobile kennels.

Typically, a dog will work for about 8 years. When it retires, its handler has the first option of taking it home or finding it a suitable good home.

Source:   http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/organisation/dogs/

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2 thoughts on “Sniffer or Detection Dogs & Police Dogs

  1. Even cats have good sniffers. Our cat found her Christmas presents – catnip toys – in a bag full of other stuff. We found her on our bed, rolling around crazily and swatting her new toy about like a pinball. Of all the stuff in the bag, only her toy was opened.

  2. Star Wise on said:

    Haha, good one Billy. What a clever cat, if only cats could be trained to sniff out illegal food at the borders!

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