The RPS Canine Unit is made up of 6 handlers; including a Supervisor and Training Coordinator. Each team member is partnered with and works exclusively with their own dog. Some handlers use more than one dog while on duty as some dogs are kept as Drug Detection Dogs (DDD) when they are no longer able to function as General Purpose Dog/Police Service Dog (PSD).
The Canine Section provides canine support services to officers in Patrol while responding to a variety of calls for service. Canine members can be at the scene, almost immediately, of an armed robbery, auto theft, break and enter or weapons offence. The dogs add their tracking ability and speed to patrol investigations and often assist in apprehending suspects. Canine members also visit schools regularly and perform demonstrations for community groups.
Team members and dogs initially go through a standard 16-week training period and then participate in extensive and ongoing training throughout the year. Canine members are required to be in peak physical condition, as the job often requires officers to follow tracks and pursue/chase suspects on foot.
It’s important to note that the dogs go home at the end of each shift with their human partners. Training never seeks to erase the dogs’ naturally social behaviour. Even though each dog functions as a highly trained member of a team, each dog is also a pet, companion and family member.
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Canines range in cost from virtually free when we have done in house breeding of pups, to upwards of $10,000when they are purchased from a breeder or broker.
The average weight of our dogs ranges from 70-85lbs.
Canines career’s vary in length and depend highly on the animal’s health and ability to perform their duties. It also depends on the handler’s desire to stay in the canine section. We typically start a dog into police work between 12 months and 2 years of age. The term in canine is 5-7 years with two 1 year extensions available. The handler is expected to do at minimum 5 years in the spot but can remain for 7 without special request. Typically, teams “retire” together under normal circumstances when the dog is between 7-10 years old.
Each canine in the unit is on a diet that has been found to be best suited to that animal. Most are on a high quality kibble product that is additionally supplemented by other products to support joints, immunities, and digestive system. One of our dogs is also on a raw diet consisting of raw beef. He is also supplemented as listed above.
Canine “basic” training is a 16-18 week course where the inexperienced canine and handler are paired together and learn to perform the functions that are required to provide canine service to the community. Ultimately the team must “qualify” at the end and then each year after to the Saskatchewan Provincial Standard for Police Dogs. The standard sets out the minimums that each team must be able to perform in order to provide service to the community in the following areas: Tracking, Person Search, Evidence Search, and Criminal Apprehension. The teams must also demonstrate their ability to pass the standard’s criteria for basic agility and obedience. As a result, the daily exercises during basic training revolve around all of these areas. At the conclusion of basic training, as mentioned, the teams must continue to maintenance train in each of these areas year round in order to pass their annual qualifications.
Dogs typically have come to RPS with names given at the time of their birth, assigned by litter. In some cases, they have been changed by the handler at their prerogative. In other cases, usually during times when puppies have come to the unit, the section has run naming competitions.