Canine units are an essential part of police forces all over the world today. These elite canines are expected to help police officers enforce the law and save lives. Their duties range from tracking lost individuals, to rescuing drowning victims, to disarming dangerous criminals. It takes a very special dog to be able to perform these tasks with the efficiency and dependability that is required of working police dogs. For the police officers who are putting their lives at risk, having a canine partner who is guaranteed to be fully trained and capable of performing the task at hand is a necessity. In order to prove their capacity, working dogs must pass strict police canine certification programs before being admitted into the force. These certification programs ensure that only the best of the best make it onto the field as a working police dog.
Throughout the world, police forces in each region and country rely on their own localized certification programs. No international standard exists for the certification of police dogs, so it is up to the police department and the local government to determine if a certain certification is up to par with their own expectations for a police dog. For example, police dogs in the U.S.A often obtain certification from the United States Police Canine Association, while the Royal Mounted Police offers their own certifications for canine units working in Canada. However, the majority of organizations offering official certifications for police protection work follow a similar set of criteria. Typically, police dog certification programs will test dogs for general obedience and agility, tracking, criminal apprehension, searches, narcotics detection and explosives detection.
It is important to note that the certifications given for dog sport events, such as Schutzhund or French Ring, are not equivalent to those offered by official police dog certification programs. Police protection dogs should always be trained for real-life scenarios, as the danger they will face on the field is very real. Never expect a dog trained in sport to handle real protection work in the real world.