K9 Dog Training: How to Train Your Dog Like a Police Dog?

Last Updated on July, 2024

Police dogs, one of the most important aspects of police forces, often known as the K9-unit (K9 or K-9, a homophone of canine), are trained to assist members of law enforcement.

A K9 has various duties to be fulfilled. They can always be relied on to track and catch suspects, search for explosives and drugs, but their services don’t have a limited-time mandate.

They could probably do their job in their sleep! They work closely with their handler assisting officers and providing crucial information during criminal investigations. 

If you’re interested and want to know how they convert a regular dog to a life-saving K9 police dog,

We’ve got your answer! Also, if you’re interested in training your own police dog, we’ve got you covered there too. 

Police dog training is no easy task. It requires time, dedication, patience, and a lot of hard work, but the end result is worth it! These four-legged beings can be amazing watchdogs and protect their handlers with their lives if necessary.

It takes years of intensive training, and this guide should help you on your k9 dog training journey. With this guide, you can train your dog to be obedient, disciplined, and, most importantly, safe.

Quick Summary

Police dogs, also known as K9s, are trained to assist members of law enforcement with various duties, including tracking and catching suspects, searching for explosives and drugs, and providing crucial information during criminal investigations.

Police dog training requires time, dedication, and patience, and involves starting with basic obedience training before progressing to more advanced tasks such as bark training, drug-scent detection training, and suspect tracking.

Important tips for training a police dog include making the training enjoyable, capitalizing on what motivates the dog, being consistent, and always ending on a positive note. There are also specific commands and differences between K9 training and military working dog training.

What Are the Steps to Train a Police Dog? 

Police and a k9 training

Before you begin police dog training, your dog should have mastered obedience training and should be able to respond to your commands instantly without problems, plus should be free of behavior problems.

Next, your dog should have a work ethic; if it is scared, nervous, or anxious, it might be difficult for your dog to cope with this highly intense training. 

Also, your dog should be health tested to confirm whether he is healthy enough for police dog training and is free from any illness or injury. 

You can start to train usually when the dog is around 8-10 weeks old. Reward-based training works best so take advantage of it. 

The key to success is consistency, patience, and positivity, so stay up to it.

If your dog meets all these standards, then here’s your guide on how to train a K9.

Basic Training


Like all working dogs, a K9 also needs to learn the basic obedience commands like sit, stay and must respond to your recall command perfectly.

This is an absolute must because your dog should be able to respond to what you say.(1)

Start from the basics obedience and from there keep moving to advanced and beyond.

That’ll help to improve your pup’s skill-set. 

If you haven’t trained any commands for your dog yet, check out this online dog training program by a dog trainer who’s trained various military dogs.

This training program will drastically reduce the time taken to train all the commands mentioned above. 

As mentioned earlier, make sure to use reward-based training, treats, toys, or even your praise; anything would do. This way, your dog will be eager to learn more and please you.


A police dog needs to be socialized so that it will become accustomed to people and other animals. Not all dogs may want to play with you, even if they were given a chance.

Socialization will help your dog to be more comfortable around humans, other dogs, and animals. They will know that these things are not dangerous or have any adverse effects on them.

If a police dog doesn’t get socialized with people, it can become scared and even aggressive. It would be easy for someone to get hurt. The dog would also not be able to do its job because it is just too scared to go out among the public.

A dog should be socialized for the first few months of its life. You can provide this early socialization by playing and interacting with other dogs.

The owners can teach the dog how to behave, such as play fetch, fetch toys and respond appropriately when it’s time for a walk.

Barking Training 

a dog barking

A K9’s Barking is a crucial tool, and proper training is a must.

To train your dog to bark on command, first, you should entice him with a trigger that’ll excite him.

A ball is a great way to do this. Hold the ball as if you’re ready to play.

If he barks in excitement after seeing the ball, the next time, right before he barks, request the command you want to use.

If you’ve done it successfully, reward him (do this even if your dog does not realize this command’s meaning)

Reward him if he barks on command each time you bring out the ball. 

If he barks and you’ve failed to use the command, Don’t reward. After he gets used to it, he’ll realize that barking means treats.

Also, you can have play sessions too. Once your dog has mastered it, you can reduce the food reward.

Drug-scent Detection Training 

Drug-scent training is a type of learning that dogs can use to better track narcotics and drugs. In drug-scent training, a K9 is trained to recognize the smell of drugs by associating the scent with a reward. 

Then, when they see evidence of illegal substances in their environment, they will be more likely to give chase and identify it as a target instead of simply reacting or following more randomly. 

Drug detection dogs are trained this way so that law enforcement or border patrol can find contraband more reliably while minimizing the risk for their K9 partners.

Here how you can train your dog to sniff out drugs:

  • To start off, provide a ball to your K9 and let him get used to it. You can do this by playing with him. A toy or a rolled towel will also work great.
  • Once your dog is pretty much obsessed with the ball, teach him the game “find it,” to do this, take an empty box, put that particular ball in it and hide it somewhere, for the first few times, allow your dog to see you hide the toy and make sure you hide it in an easy location.
  • Next up, hide the ball along with the scent you want your dog to find; you can cover the ball with the scent or just put it alongside the ball inside the box. Once hidden, command your dog to “find it.” Doing this will help your dog understand, and he will learn to associate the drug with the toy.
  • Start off with one scent and stick with it until he understands everything. You can introduce various other scents down the line. 
  • If your dog now understands what he’s doing, you can hide the ball and the scent in more advanced locations. 
  • Once your dog gets used to the process thoroughly, you can just hide the drug scent without the ball in it. After your dog finds the drug successfully, you can provide the ball and play with him as a reward.

In order to access the drug samples licensing and certification by law enforcement agencies are required to avoid any unnecessary problems. If you don’t have access to any type of drug legally, essential oils such as anise, birch and clove can be used.

Suspect Tracking

To train your dog to track suspects follow the steps: 

It’s basically the same way as drug-scent training but with some simple tweaks.

  • Get a toy or a treat your dog loves the most and hide it somewhere nearby.
  • Get two similar objects that have the same smell. Take one of those two items and let your dog smell it and hide the other item and make your dog search for it. 
  • Teach your dog some commands like “search” or “find it.”
  • Begin your training in a small area like a yard or even indoors. Make sure to hide the item for the first few times barely. Make your dog believe this is a fun game and if he finds the hidden item reward him.
  • If your dog’s ready, take him outdoors like to a field, hide one or more people there, and allow your dog to find them. Gradually increase the distance over time and make your dog get used to the training. Don’t forget to reward him! 

Essential Tips During Police K9 Training 

Here’s how to train your dog like a CIA officer. Below are the CIA’s 10 most important tips for training your dog:

  • Make it enjoyable 

Training is something that both you and your dog should enjoy, and as a dog owner, you shouldn’t forget this. Always approach training in a happy mood. Show your dog that good behavior leads to rewards.

  • Capitalize on what gets the dog motivated

Rewarding always doesn’t have to be treated; trying something different and sticking to it will motivate your dog, playing with your dog, providing his favorite toy, or even other pets will be great. 

  • Reward them

Reward your dog directly every time they improve in each command. 

  • Work Hard, Play Hard. 

Training can be a tough time, but one thing to know is that taking breaks is essential. That’ll help both you and your dog get ready for the next session. So don’t forget to get some breaks. 

  • Be Keen On The Dog’s Patterns

If you spot any patterns, disrupt them! If you’re the one who commands the dog to “sit” every time before having a meal try commanding one or two other commands. In addition to that, that’ll help to avoid ruts training routine.

  • Challenge The Dog

Spice things up, increase the difficulty of the tasks each time your dog gets it right. For example, if your dog has now mastered the “down” command, you can now increase the difficulty by mixing it up with distractions taking place nearby and asking him to hold the position for longer.

  • Consistency is Essential 

Always be consistent while training your dog, be consistent in the commands that you’re teaching your dog until they master it, also be consistent in the time you start training and even rewards too.

  • Take Breaks 

Training can present a tough time for both you and your dog. So if you run out of energy, make sure not to force yourself and take a break. It’ll help both you and your dog Big Time! 

  • Match The Training To The Dog’s Energy Levels

Before training your dog, get to know more about him. Know your dog’s energy level and drive and match your training accordingly to his ability.

  • End your training on a happy note 

Don’t forget the first rule: training is something both of you should enjoy and look forward to. Always end each session with success. That’ll help both you and your dog thrive for the next session. 

Police Dog Training Commands 

officer and a puppy

The K9 handler commands are the set of verbal instructions that are used to train the K9s. These commands help in training and in communication.

The handler must understand how to use these commands when they are communicating with their dog. 

Command Set: All-Clear, Attack, Come, Down (Stop), Drop It/Hands Up, Guard (Ready), Heel (Come In Place), Sit, Stay, Stand, Track (Connect), Watch Me, Work (Search), and more.

Most of the time, police dogs in most English-speaking countries are often taught German Commands. 

The German commands are a variant of military codes used by the German Armed Forces. These dog commands also have been adopted as training protocols for law enforcement dogs. 

The most commonly used command is “Sitz,” which translates to “Sit.” It is often used in conjunction with other commands such as “Rest,” “Watch,” and “Guard.”

Check out our full guide on German police dog commands if you want to know more.

K9 Dog Training Vs Military Working Dog Training

K9 in a Military base

Military Working Dog Training is often confused with K9 training for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that both involve dogs and military personnel. 

However, the most apparent difference between the two is that Military Working Dog Training occurs in a war zone while K9 training takes place outside of those grounds. 

Military Working Dogs are specifically trained to handle situations in which their handler’s lives and physical well-being may be threatened by improvised explosive devices, landmines, or other dangers arising from combat or war zones. 

K9s are used for a wide variety of purposes such as narcotics detection and search and rescue missions which don’t involve hazardous conditions on a battlefield.

Here’s a highly recommended k9 online dog training program called “K9 Training Institute“. Check it out.

Frequently Asked Questions


K9 police dog training is a form of training that requires the handler to instruct the animal on a number of things.

Dogs are known for being well-behaved and obedient in general, and this is also due to dog obedience training in the form of K9 Dog Training that’s often used by owners worldwide.

Dog owners can use the K9 training program as a way to train their animals for various tasks such as police, military, or personal protection.

It takes time, patience, understanding, and dedication in order for someone to successfully complete this type of training course with their furry friend.

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Thomas Villalpando
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of Dogs Academy. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. He has been featured in MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Sun, Entrepreneur & More. You can find more about him here.

2 thoughts on “K9 Dog Training: How to Train Your Dog Like a Police Dog?”

  1. Thank you so much for the work you put into your site. I was looking for some more ways of training. I have had a service dog before and thought about getting another one. I am doing some more research on training. I have already trained before and have the knowledge. Just was curious on other ways as well. This is a very informative site!!!

  2. (I input the wrong email before) Thank you so much for the work you put into your site. I was looking for some more ways of training. I have had a service dog before and thought about getting another one. I am doing some more research on training. I have already trained before and have the knowledge. Just was curious on other ways as well. This is a very informative site!!!


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