German Shepherds are highly intelligent and can be used as rescue and guide dogs as well as police dogs.
All the officers within the dog section have General Purpose (GP) dogs. Most are German Shepherds although the force also has Belgian Malinois, Spaniels and Dutch Herders.
Eight dogs have been trained to work with firearms teams; 12 detect explosives and seven dogs are licensed to detect drugs, weapons and cash.
They are used for:
Football match duties
PANDA - (scanning people for drugs)
Due to the physical demands made on these dogs, they must be in good physical condition. They are trained to scale a six foot (1.8 meters) fence, clear a foot (0.3 meters) long jump and complete a hurdle and agility course.
The dogs are trained to bite and will do so on command, to protect themselves or their handler.
The dogs are used to search for people who are hiding and for property that’s been hidden or discarded. The dog uses its strong sense of smell to detect the individual scent of people and property. Humans are not able to detect these smells, but the dog makes it look easy. The dog will hold the item in its mouth and take it back to the handler.
The same method is used when searching for people - the dog detecting a smell which he is attracted to. On finding the person, the dog will bark to tell the handler where they are.
Weather and time are other factors which affects tracking including wind, rain, snow, ice, frost and warm temperatures.
The force manages a kennel complex and is always on the look out for suitable dogs to join the unit. Dogs which the force find are not suitable for the job are sometimes made available for re-homing and more information can be found at The Kennels web page.