Police dogs are a very important asset to the police service. They help tackle crime by detecting suspects or missing people, recovering lost or stolen property, and can also be extremely useful in controlling public disorder.

A great deal of care and thought goes into selecting dogs for police work. It is vital they have a good temperament; they also need to be physically fit, inquisitive, well socialised, and bold, have strong motivation and be keen to play and interact with people.

Some of our police dogs are ‘donated’ by members of the public. Some are purchased as young dogs or puppies and others come from rescue centres. They are assessed for a period of time to assess suitability.

Training is based on play and exercises are slowly built up over a period of time with the emphasis of fun and reward for the dog. Throughout training, the dog's natural abilities are identified, encouraged and enhanced. A dog's natural abilities form the basis for many of the exercises in police dog training, including its instinct to treat its handler as pack leader.

The police dog is rewarded and praised for its hard work and given good food, care, exercise and protection. On completion of the initial course, the dog and handler are assessed. If they have achieved the required standards they are licensed to become operational as a team.

All police dogs are kept at the handler's home to ensure they remain bonded, and they will have holidays with their handler, either at home or in police kennels. During operational duties, the dog is housed in the police van which is specially adapted for the dogs safety and comfort. They are regularly watered and exercised by their handlers.

Lay visitor scheme

Lay visitors check the living conditions, the condition of the animals, and the bond between handler and dog. They either arrange visits with dog handlers or view the dogs without any prior notice.

Dogs are assessed on five main 'freedoms'.


  • from hunger and thirst
  • from discomfort
  • from pain injury and disease
  • from fear and distress
  • to express normal behaviour.

They submit a report to the Chief Inspector of Operations, and any recommendations are taken very seriously and carried out if appropriate.

For information about becoming a lay visitor volunteer, call 01267 226440 or email us.

Donate or rehome a dog

If you own a dog you think might be a candidate for police work, please contact us. Donated dogs will ideally be between 10 months and two years of age; be bold and confident but not too aggressive; have a bright inquisitive nature and willingness to play with a toy.

General-purpose dogs are usually retired at around seven or eight years old. Specialist dogs are retired at about ten years.

The handler is allowed to keep their dog and many choose to do this. Sometimes though it’s not possible and we then need to find a suitable owner for the rest of the dog's life.

If you want to donate a dog you think may be suitable for police work or, are interested in re-homing a dog, you can leave your contact details with us. Email us or call 101 and ask for the dog section.