How long does it usually take for you to train a dog so it is ready to go to the police?
The length of time it takes me to get a dog ready to go to the police depends on each individual dog. There are many factors that go into training and selling a dog to the police. Some of those include the age in which I start training them or the age in which I sell them, prior or lack of prior training, maturity level, and drive.
The police usually like to start their new police dogs on the streets usually between 18 months to 24 months old. That way the department maximizes the length of time per canine on the streets. I have gotten dogs as young as 8 weeks to dogs as old as 3 years old to train. The older dogs I get usually have a foundation training on them (basic obedience and protection training) or a sport title, so it is my job to convert them into police dogs. I have to turn their mentality around to support the stresses and demands of being a police dog. That is accomplished through many hours of training and exposure to the environment. The fastest dog I have turned around from a sport title and basic training to a police god was 6 months.
When I start a dog as young as 8 weeks old, I usually hang onto the dog until they are about 15 months old, and then depending on their ability to handle the stress, begin to list them for sale to agencies. I train the dog in on and off leash obedience, bite work, search work, and in some cases tracking/trailing. I try to get my dogs so used to any type of environment (slick floors, small rooms, dark rooms, large loud garages and buildings, crowds, noises, smells, and more) so by the time they go to an agency, they are so desensitised to everything, almost nothing scares them or makes them nervous. They are confident dogs. The longest it took me to train a dog and sell the dog was 15 months.
In answer to the question, I average about a year to fully train a police dog.
Why are you a huge advocate of using prong (pinch) collars?
Prong collars have a nasty reputation. People are afraid to use them because the collars look scary and because most people misuse them, they injure the dogs. People are so scared to hurt their dogs using them, and I don’t blame them.
But I educate people on prong collars. They are a fabulous tool when they are used correctly. They are designed to mimic the bite of another dog. That is how dogs communicate. They don’t have the ability to sit down and have a discussion, as humans do, so they use physical contact to communicate. When a puppy gets out of line, the mother nips the puppy. When a dog is scared of something, they will bite. If a dog enters another dog’s territory, they may fight, using their teeth in the process. Dogs use their teeth and bite each other as a massive form of communication.
As I mentioned, prong collars mimic that bite. People often expect dogs to understand our language, but what we need to do is speak the dog’s language. When a prong collar is used correctly, a dog responds instantly. I mean - instantly. That is because the person is finally effectively communicating with their dog in a language the dog instinctively understands.
If they are used correctly, all you have to do is just close your fingers on the leash, applying little pressure on the collar. You no longer have to yank your dog backward or get dragged around.
In fact, flat collars (the nylon ones people use for their dog’s tags) are more detrimental than an adequately used prong collar. When a dog pulls on their nylon collar, there are so many problems happening. The dog is collapsing its trachea (I am sure you may have seen when your dog pulls hard enough, it may cough). The dog is also pulling vertebrae in its neck out of alignment. If a dog pulls hard enough, they could pull the vertebrae entirely out of alignment and sever the dog’s spinal cord, leading to complete paralysis. Pulling also causes pressure buildup behind its eyes (have you ever seen a dog pull so hard that its eyes bug out?) and restricts blood flow to its front paws (also causing nerve damage). Because of this, dogs tend to lick their front paws often, and they are misdiagnosed as having an allergy.
When people “accept” their dog pulls on walks, they turn to other tools. They use “gentle leaders” which is a halter over the dog’s nose and clips underneath, steering the dog to the side when it pulls. Those can be very dangerous.
People also put their dogs in harnesses. Those are the worst. People have no effective communication with their dog, and they are encouraging their dog to pull by making it comfortable. Harnesses are designed for pulling.
A prong collar does not do any of that. It allows effective communication between the dog and owner, and the dog will not pull it at all, therefore eliminating all of the issues I mentioned above. It is one of the most useful and effective tools I have ever used.