Training of the Barnstable Police K-9s is intense. It starts with a 13 week K-9 police academy. The dogs and their handlers train together as a team. There is a lot of agility training. The handler and the K-9 must learn to successfully overcome a multitude of obstacles together. These obstacles replicate the varied situations that the K-9 team may encounter in a real life patrol situation. These obstacles include a six-foot wall, various fences, a teeter totter for helping the canine trust his handler when the surface he is walking on is unsteady. There are tubes and tires to run through and ladders to climb. The dogs also learn to chase and take down a suspect, how to track, protect his handler among other subjects. By graduation for the K-9 Police academy the dog and his handler have been moulded into a highly trained and effective team to fight crime and save lives in all situations.
Training is strictly by reward. There is never any abuse or punishment. The dogs are trained to remain focused and to ignore distractions, to respond only to their handler, and obey voice commands and hand signals. When police dogs are working they are not angry or vicious. They are only doing their job which to them is a game. It is fun and they are anxious to work and when they execute a command properly they are rewarded.
The training doesn’t end upon graduation from the K-9 Police Academy. In fact, it never ends throughout the K-9s entire career. Training is daily and ongoing even on the handler’s days off when they are at home. Every two weeks, the dog and his handler train with other K-9 units and SWAT teams from around the area. When off duty, the K-9 lives at home with his handler’s family and is simply another member of the family. In effect they are the family pet.
Police K-9s are expensive to buy and maintain. Very few dogs are qualified to be trained to become police K-9s. Because of this, dogs with the right qualifications can cost anywhere from $6,000 – $10,000. Many K-9s are purchased from breeders in foreign countries who specialize in breeding K-9s. Before being made available to police departments for purchase they are tested for having the right aptitude for police work. Dogs that are too aggressive, or timid are rejected. The dogs must be athletic, in good physical health, be interested, curious, smart, and attentive.
The Barnstable Police K-9 Foundation works to raise funds to help support the costs of purchasing and maintaining the departments K-9 Unit. Funds are used strictly for the needs of the dog like food, medical and dental care, and equipment like bullet proof vests, leashes, special collars, muzzles, and in cruiser kennel accessories. Please donate generously to the foundation. Your support is deeply appreciated.