Dog Handling Unit

Police dogs working with police dog handlers in one of the many police dog units in forces around the UK perform many essential tasks.

The Police Dog Unit is a support service that can be called upon to assist in missing person searches, searching for criminals or property, locating drugs or explosives, hostage situations and crowd control.

If you are interested in a career as a police dog handler, you might find the following ‘Quick Links’ useful;

  • If you are not yet in the Police Service: Police Recruitment – and check out the resources to help you with a successful application.
  • If you are a police officer considering a transfer, visit the Police Jobs Section.

Other functions that police dog units regularly perform include:

  • Crowd management at major sporting events
  • Searching buildings and open ground for missing and wanted people
  • Searching for evidence
  • Drugs detection and explosive detection
  • Tracking suspects
  • Victim recovery dogs
  • Tactical firearms operations
  • Supporting community-based initiatives
  • Public order response
  • High-profile, proactive, intelligence-led patrols

To apply for a post as a dog handler you must have completed your 2-year probationary period and must have proved yourself to be a competent police officer. You can then apply to the dog unit for a trial course with a police dog that is trained to accept commands from any handler. If you are deemed suitable you will have to wait until a vacancy arises, and at this time you can apply for the position. Other suitable candidates may also apply for the post, so the department has to decide who they feel is most suitable for the post. Previous dog handling experience is therefore an advantage for any officer applying to join the police dog unit.

Police dog handlers must have a genuine love for animals and be very patient. Your dog will live with you and will be part of your own family. When dogs retire normally at around 9 years old they will generally become your household pet.

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You must be fit to be able to keep up with your dog during the rigorous training exercises they need to go through. Police dogs must learn to be highly obedient, so that they are always under strict control in the most dangerous of circumstances.

German Shepherd dogs are generally the most commonly used breed of dog within the UK Police, although other breeds such as Labradors (for sniffing), Dobermans, Rottweilers and Weimaraners are used too.

Police dogs are commonly specially bred within Police kennels, to ensure a constant supply of dogs. However, some are still bought in, or provided by the public if the dog is still young enough for training.

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