IT is admitted on all hands that the dog is capable of training to do his master's bidding in a great many different ways. Other chapters appear in this work detailing with what purpose he is used as an aid to the hunter, sportsman, courser, for the drawing of quick-firing guns into the firing line, for ambulance work, for sentry duty, as an indispensable aid in all Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, to say nothing of the sport certain breeds give us as racing and performing dogs.
The purport of this chapter is to indicate with what success he is being trained as a branch of the police force. Thousands of dogs, mostly of the German and Belgian sheepdog variety, are at this present time enrolled in the widely scattered police and other municipal forces of America and other countries.
In the training of dogs for this work a special aptitude on the part of the "handler" or "guide" is essential. Given a reasonable amount of common sense, unlimited patience and an understanding of a dog's nature, success is assured in a large majority of cases.
The police dog trial is an old story so far as Germany, Belgium and Holland are concerned. Americans are now taking this highly instructive work in hand and the displays create a tremendous amount of enthusiastic interest. The objects of such trials are:
1. Obedience exercises.
2. Detective work.
3. Protective work.
The obedience exercises called for are:
1. Heeling on leash.
2. Heeling without leash. The guide turns to right or left. Runs, walks and stops with the object of confusing the dog.
The Police Dog is Trained to Attack on Command.
3. Refusing food offered by strangers or thrown or found on the ground. The dog is made to lie down both free and in the absence of the guide, and he must refuse bread, meat or other tempting morsels of food. Then a dish of food is placed within his reach, but he must not touch it under penalty of lost points.
4. Guarding objects. This is considered a most important acquisition. Every possible effort is made to remove the object by the judge. The dog is chained beside the object, which is well within his reach, and he is taught to lie down quietly beside it and not to move or growl or show his teeth until the judge makes an effort to take the object away quietly; If a vigorous attempt is made to snatch the object then the dog is to defend it and himself in energetic fashion. Even when the judge threatens the dog with a stick, or by coaxing, the faithful tyke will be proof against them all. Bad marks are recorded if he gnaws the object or otherwise misuses it.
5. Giving "tongue" on command. This must be done continuously on command. It is insufficient for him to bark once and imitation barking by the guide is forbidden.
6. Retrieving objects weighing two pounds. The dog must sit down quietly and await instructions. Then he must bring it coming over a fence or hedge promptly and sit down again before his guide until relieved of the object. The varying heights of the fence or wall provide a number of diverse exercises in the retrieving lesson.
9. Scaling wall.
10. Going ahead. The guide walks across the trial ground with the dog at heel On command the dog runs ahead in the direction given to a distance of about 30 yards. He shall "drop" immediately on command and stay there until told to rise.
11. Lying down. The dog is shown free in this exercise and immediately on command he must rise and go away.
The detective work is conducted as follows:
1. Searching for objects left by a stranger at the end of a trail of 250 yards long and half an hour old. The trailer proceeds on a track, directed by the judge, walk at his natural pace and at the end of the trail stand still for one minute, wipe his feet well on the ground, place the object between his footprints and then take the shortest cut to a place again directed by the judge. An interesting variation of this is provided by the object being placed thirty yards away from the end of trail and at right angles thereto.
Police Dog Scaling Fence 8 ft. 6 in. High.
2. Search for object left by a stranger on a trail 500 yards long, and barking at the trailer when found. This is done both with the dog free and also when on leash ten yards long, and it is particularly desirable that the dog be taught to bark on finding the object or person discovered.
The protective work comprises:
1. Scouting over ground and barking at any large object found. The dog follows the direction indicated by the guide and covers the ground carefully, searching every nook and corner not so as to encircle the guide at a short distance. Three hiding places are provided. As soon as the dog finds the hidden person he is taught to watch him and by barking attract the guide's attention.
2. Transporting "prisoner" without nipping. When found, the dog follows behind the "prisoner" quietly without barking or nipping. Any object dropped inconspicuously must be picked up at once by the dog and brought to the guide, then continue the transport without waiting for the command. If the "prisoner" attempts to escape, or attacks the guide, the dog must attack him immediately, without waiting for command to do so. During these attacks the "prisoner" shoots twice into the air.
3. Watching the "prisoner" quietly when latter is quiet.
4. Arresting and holding the "prisoner" on attempted flight. The "prisoner" attempts to drive the dog away with blows or a whip or by throwing pieces of wood at him. The dog must watch him alone and twice stop an attempted flight. As soon as the "prisoner" is quiet the dog must leave him alone and watch him until the guide returns.
A high percentage of points are given for general obedience.
The whole attitude of the dog is taken into consideration especially between the different exercises if he remains at heel; also how he controls himself between the exercises toward the "prisoner," and whether he needs holding in check by the collar and in other ways indicates that he understands when he is on duty and when he is not.
Unquestionably these trials throw a good deal of light on the training of dogs used by the Continental nations for war purposes as well as for police work, and it is hoped that greater facilities will be given for such in other parts of the world.