Warwickshire Police have welcomed their newest recruits.
However, Zeus, Miya and Shadow are not the average trainee constable – they are the latest puppies being trained with a view to becoming police dogs in the forces’ joint dog section.
The pups are currently with their handlers and for the next 12 months they will be taught basic commands and introduced to new environments.
After that, the dogs will then be assessed to see if they have reached the standard to go on an eight week initial training course.
PC Karen Richards – who is training Miya – says at the moment, it is important the dogs are given time to be puppies.
“At this stage, we try not to push them too much. Just ten minutes a day training around obedience is all we’re doing with them and then we’ll gradually build this up over time to include more challenging tasks, such as tracking – which is about following a particular scent.
“If they do make the grade and go onto the initial course, that’s where they’ll start to learn more about tracking offenders, looking for property, searching buildings and how to deal with public order events.”
Once fully trained, Zeus, Miya and Shadow – who are German/Belgian Shepherd Malinois cross breeds and also brothers and sister – will become general police dogs.
PC John Hankinson hopes Zeus will pass the course and replace his current dog Harley when he is retired next year.
PC Hankinson says police dogs are treated as part of the family by their handlers.
“Obviously, we become very close to the dogs we train and they live in our homes with us.
“In reality, they’re four-legged police officers who become your crew mate and you often see more of them than you do your own family!
“Being a dog handler in the police is a 24/7 commitment. It’s a lot of hard work and can often be frustrating, but it’s extremely rewarding and you reap the benefits in training an animal who you can rely on and who looks out for you in difficult situations.”