Most dogs are trained in basic obedience and tested for their abilities. After further evaluation by training agencies, dogs that make the cut are ready to be paired with a handler after they reach the age of about 15 months.
Although the K-9s are well trained when selected by a Police Department, many will continue their training with their handlers, for anywhere from 5 to 12 weeks, after they are teamed up and need to pass state certifications — before they are ready to hit the streets.
Training continues for the working life of the dog. Most K9 officers conduct weekly training to maintain their proficiency in searching and apprehension, and to maintain their specific competencies; which is either explosive or drug detection.
The officers involved have a strong commitment to the program and this assignment is one of the longest in many departments. Not only are the dog and handler together constantly at work, the dogs also live with the family of the handler. At home, these dogs act like ordinary family pets. However, once his handler puts him in the car for the trip to work, the dog’s demeanor changes. The dogs seem to have a sense of when they will be required to assist their partner and they look forward to coming to work.