Mon. May 20th, 2024

Police Dog Commands German / Dutch / Czech / English

German is one of the popular languages to teach dog commands aside from English. Police dogs are primarily from Europe.

Dogs like the German Shepherd, which is German-based, are often taught German dog commands before they’re ready for service.

There are many reasons for this, so keep reading to find out why German is a popular foreign language when it comes to police dog commands training. Also as a bonus we’ve included a wide range of german commands for dogs that you can train your dog with.

Here are the 3 key points from this article:

  1. German is a popular language to use when teaching commands to dogs, especially for police dogs.
  2. There are many reasons for this, including that it limits the issue of language barriers and allows the dog to re-perform specific behaviors.
  3. The training process of a police dog can take anywhere from just a few weeks to several years.

TLDR: Police officers in many countries train their dogs using German commands, as German is not a widely spoken language and this can help to prevent criminals from influencing the dogs. German commands can also be helpful for officers as they can be unique and allow the dog to re-perform specific behaviors on command.

Why Do Police Teach Their Dogs In German Command?

Police training their dogs in German command is beneficial for two reasons. First, it limits the issue of language barriers. Second, using German commands allows the dog to re-perform specific behaviors that involve obeying a human’s orders as opposed to those of other dogs.

Also, According to K9 Officer Randy Widdicombe,” it’s a myth that non-English commands are meant to ensure no one besides the handler can command the dog to”attack” or ”sit.” In reality, most police dogs, German shepherd dogs in particular, are purchased overseas and were trained with those command words. It’s easier for the officer to learn a few German words than to retrain the dog with new commands”.

Reasons Why German Dog Commands Are Helpful For Police Officers?

There are several reasons for why the dog commands in German are used in police dog training; here are some of those:

Uncommon Language: Most countries do not use the German language that well other than Germany. This is a massive plus for those countries. Criminals can sometimes influence the dog; however, if the dog is trained with German commands, it can be challenging for them to do so.

There are several cases in which criminals have easily stopped many English thought police dogs.

Uniqueness: Many cops like the essence of the German phrases. Because of this, many of them stick to the German dog commands.

German Dog Training Commands That Police Use

Below is every German Dog Training Commands that police officers use:

  1. Attack: Fass (fahs)
  2. Stop: Halt (pronounce like English word)
  3. Fetch: Bring (pronounce like English word)
  4. Let Go: Aus (ow-ss)
  5. Go: Lauf (low-f)
  6. No: Nein (Nine)
  7. Stay: Bleib (blibe)
  8. Here/Come: Hier (hee-r)
  9. Sit: Sitz (zitz)
  10. Down: Platz (plah-tz)
  11. Here/Come: Hier (hee-r)
  12. Heel: Fuss (foos)
  13. Go Out: Voraus (for-ows)
  14. Track: Such (zook)
  15. Guard: Pass Auf
  16. Bite: Packen/Fass
  17. Jump: Hopp (hup)
  18. Speak: Gib Laut ( gib l-owt)
  19. Go Ahead: Geh Raus (gay rouss)
  20. Go Inside: Geh Rein (gay rine)
  21. Stand: Steh (Sh-tay)
  22. Narcotics/Dope: Rauschgift (roussh-gift)
  23. Find Narcotics: Such Rauschgift (zook roussh-gift)
  24. Building/ Blind Search: Voran (for-ahn)
  25. Kennel: Zwinger
  26. What is going on: Was ist los? (vas ist low-s)
  27. Good (praise): So ist Brav (zo ist bra-v)
  28. Don’t do that: Lass das sein (los das sine)
  29. OK: In Ordnung
  30. Eat Food: Nimm Futter
  31. Helper Stand Still: Steht Noch (shtayt nock)
  32. Article Search: Such Verloren (zook ferloren)
  33. Leave it: Lass es (los S)
  34. Fast: Schnell (sch-nell)
  35. Quiet: Ruhig (Roo-ig)
  36. Slow: Langsam (laung-sum)

These are the German dog commands that police officers often use.

How To Train A Police Dog

Training a police dog is not a task for the faint-hearted. The training of police dogs can take up to two years, during which time the animal’s personality, temperament, and character are tested.

Dogs used in law enforcement need to be able to control their aggression and respond to commands from the handler without hesitation.

Usually, dogs with better reactivity and energy levels are selected for training as “police” or “patrol” dogs. These dogs need an outlet for their natural energy, such as plenty of exercise and playtime throughout the day. The bite work done on these animals is often part of that playtime; it teaches them how to act when they’re engaged in a fight or struggling with an uncooperative suspect.

The first stage of training is for the dog to learn the basic obedience commands. Dogs are given a command and will be corrected if they do not respond. Trainers will use negative or positive reinforcement while correcting the dog.

For Example, A correction can be simply tugging on the leash, or it can be an electric shock.

This system is known as “negative reinforcement.” The dog will be taught to associate a behavior with a reward (the removal of the negative stimulus).

In later stages, dogs are taught more complicated tasks. To know more about that, you can check out the Complete k9 Dog training on how to train a police dog step by step.

Dogs That Police Officers Often use

The most popular when it comes to the police dog is the German Shepherd.

But there are other breeds that are excellent too. Belgian Malinois is a great example.

Dutch Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweilers are also used.

K9’s are often working dogs and they are expected to be more than capable of handling themselves in dangerous situations. There are two types of dogs used for police work:

  • Single Purpose
  • Dual Purpose

Single purpose dogs are always taught to do one job, which can be either protection or detection work.

Dual purpose K9s on the other hand are used for more than one purpose, these dogs can be either patrol dogs and explosives detection or patrol and narcotics detection dogs.

How Long Does It Take To Train A Police Dog?

The training process of a police dog can take anywhere from just a few weeks to several years.

The amount of time depends on the breed and the experience, as well as the goals set for the individual dog and handler team.

A few weeks may be needed to train an aggressive dog, whereas a team seeking assistance with narcotics detection might opt for more extended training periods.

Once the decision has been made about what type of actions will be required from this particular working model, then there are other important factors to consider.

These include equipment (do you have access or permission?), compatibility with dogs of different breeds and levels, availability in terms of timing and location, temperament (is it aggressive or passive?), resources (costs), etc…

A Great Way to Train Your Police Dog

If you’re ready to train your police dog but need some assistance, then this program might help; DIYK9.

It is a dog training course put together by a dog trainer himself, Garret Wing, a K9 handler with over 20 years of experience.

Training a police dog on your own, even though possible, isn’t an easy task. A little help from an expert like Garret can go a long way; everything you need to know about dog training is outlined in the course, and it can be a great starting point on your journey to train the best police dog there is.

DIYK9 Online Dog Training
  • Highly proficient ways to teach your dog to Focus
  • How to use both hand commands and voice commands in order to communicate with your dog
  • Heel without leash
  • Ways to get your dog to obey commands off-leash
  • Obedience essential for a police dog

And so much more.

Everything DIYK9 covers is essential for a police dog. If you’re to succeed in training, this is a great starting point, as mentioned above.


Translation of the Commands used in the Netherlands for KNPV Training

Obedience Commands
Heel On and Off Leash Volg or Liggen
To Correct the Dog On Heel Terug
To Heel Left and Right Links and Rechts
To Sit Zit
To Sit in Front of Handler Kom Voor
To Lay Down AF or GA Liggen
To Stand Staan or Sta
To Stay Blijf
To Send Ahead Vooruit
To Come Here Kom Hier or Hier
To Speak Luid
To Be Silent Stil or Zwijg
To Jump Over Wooden Wall Hoog
To Jump Over Ditch Over
To Swim Across Lake Over
To Retrieve Article Apport
To Find Article Zoeken
To Get the Attention of the Dog Let Op
Good Boy/Good Girl Braaf
Bad Boy/Bad Girl Foei or Nee
At Ease Vrij
Bite Work Commands
To Attack, Off Leash 2 x Halt Politie, Stellen
On Leash Bite Work Vast
To Let Go Los or Laat Los
Recall Kom Hier or Nee or Terug
To Guard Object Erop
Transport of Suspect Transport
To Track Down Suspect and Bark Revier(RRR)
To Track Down Large Object and Bark Revier(RRR)

Before every command, the Dutch trainers use the name of the dog. For example: “Marco, come here.” “Ronny, sit.”



Dr. Ps Dog Training

Dog Training Commands in Several Languages

Compiled by Mark Plonsky, Ph.D.  with lots of help from the Internet community.

Note phonetic pronunciations are shown in parentheses. A slash (“/”) indicates alternative possibilities. Keep in mind that the translations from English are not always literal, but rather, they attempt to reflect the terms used by native speaking dog trainers of the various languages listed. you can

click any link and listen or download and listen later the actual phonetic pronunciations





Heel Fuss
Au pied
K noze
(kno zay)
right= Rechts
Sit Sitz
(said nee)
Stay Bleib
Zustan Blijf
Down Platz
(leh nee)
Come/Here Hier
(hee er)
Ici(e see)/
Ke mne
(khemn yea)
Stand Steh
Stuj (stuuya) Staan
Aport Apport
Jump Hopp Saute (soot)/
Go Out Voraus
(for owss)
En Avant
(va porshed)
Track Such
Stopa Keuring/
Guard Pass auf/
Pozor Bewaken
Bite Packen/
Out/Let Go Aus
Speak/Bark Gib Laut
Rauschgift Drogue Hledej oznac
Blind Search
Chenil Kotec Hok/
Go Outside Geh Raus/
Geh Draussen
Dehors Jdi ven Naar Buiten
Go Ahead Geh Voraus Vas Volno Voor uit/
Go Inside Geh rein
(gay rine)
Pojd sem Ga de in
What is
going on?
Was ist los? Qu’est ce
qui ce passe?
Co je to?
Good (praise) So ist brav Bon Garcon
(bon gar-scon)
(hout nee)
Word “No
Pfui (fooey)
Nein (nine)
Fuj (pfui) Foei
do that!
Lass das sein Ne fais
pas ca
Fuj (pfui) Nee
OK In Ordnung D’accord Vyborne
Eat food Nimm Futter Mange Vem si
Stand Still Bleiben Ruhig/
Steht Noch
Toi, ne
bouge pas
Ruce vzhuru
Leave it Lass es Laisse/
Pas Touche
Nech to Los







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

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.

Here are the 3 key points from this article:

  1. Police dogs are often known as the K9-unit (K9 or K-9, a homophone of canine), and are trained to assist members of law enforcement.
  2. Police dogs have various duties, including tracking and catching suspects, searching for explosives and drugs, and providing crucial information during criminal investigations.
  3. Police dog training is no easy task and requires time, dedication, patience, and a lot of hard work.

TLDR: Police dogs are trained to assist members of law enforcement in various ways, such as tracking and catching suspects, searching for explosives and drugs, and providing crucial information during criminal investigations. Basic obedience commands and socialization are essential elements of police dog training, and dogs must also be taught how to bark on command and detect various scents, including those of illegal substances.

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.

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.

CIA’s Top 10 Dog Training Tips

Did you know the CIA has its own dedicated staff of dog trainers?

K-9 officers are an important part of our Security Protective Service (SPS), which ensures the CIA and its employees are kept safe.

The trainers, all SPS officers themselves, work with a select group of dogs and handlers to teach them the ins-and-outs of explosives detection. Dogs have a remarkable ability to sniff out over 19,000 explosive scents, making them ideal for this job.

Dogs chosen for the Agency training course are hand selected by CIA trainers primarily from Susquehanna Service Dogs and Puppies Behind Bars, a program that pairs inmates with puppies to teach the dogs basic commands. Most of the Agency K-9s are Labradors, known for their intelligence and—most importantly—their unwavering good temperament.

The dogs go through a six-week “imprinting” class, where they learn to identify thousands of explosive scents, and are then carefully matched with a CIA SPS K-9 handler. The dog and handler undergo an additional 10 weeks of intense one-on-one training, learning to work together as a team to find explosives in things such as cars, trucks and luggage. Once they pass the final test, the teams are deployed to sites throughout the world, working as the first line of defense against explosive threats to Agency personnel and buildings.

Although our Agency dogs are trained for very specific jobs, many of the methodologies and principles our trainers use can be applied to training any dog, including your own.

Below are 10 tips from our CIA K-9 trainers that we hope you’ll find useful, as well as some examples highlighting how these methods are used to teach some of the best explosives detection dogs in the world.

K9 Freya showing her playful side during a training session in which she learns to search boxes for explosive scents.

1 Make it fun

Training should be a fun and enjoyable experience for both you and your dog. Use anything fun to draw your dog in: food, dancing, toys, playing, high-pitch voices … The key is getting your dog to want to do the behavior you are asking of him/her, not trying to force your dog into a behavior.

“If the dog makes the decision to do a desired behavior on its own,” says our lead K-9 trainer Dennis, “they learn more, rather than the trainer [or owner] making them do it.”

Compulsion on a dog does not work.

K9 Freya enjoys some pats from her handler during training.

2 Use what motivates your dog

When teaching your dog, use what best motivates him or her, whether it’s toys, treats, jumping up and down, or using cartoon voices. The important thing is to do whatever you can to get your dog’s attention and keep it.

You want to make training a positive environment so your dog will want to learn.

Our trainers use food rewards with the Labs because they are extremely food motivated. They are kept on a strict kibble diet, which they receive throughout the day while in training.

A high-pitched, happy voice also works wonders to get their attention and keep them motivated. Other dogs — like the shepherds the Agency used to train — were very toy rather than food motivated.

Find out what works for your dog.

K9 Indigo showing her silly side during training.

3 A small change is a big moment

When teaching your dog a new behavior, command, or trick, watch for slight changes in behavior. Those small changes can be the first sign your dog is beginning to understand what you are trying to teach him.

The signals can be as small as your dog’s ears becoming alert when they are usually relaxed or maybe a glance and forward lean toward the object you want your dog to fetch.

If you learn to pick up on those slight changes in behavior, you can time your praise and corrections more accurately to encourage the desired behavior.

When our K-9 unit begins a new class of dogs, one of the first things the pups learn is to sniff on command.

The instructors watch for signs as they encourage the dogs to “seek.”

At first, the dogs are taught to sniff a scent placed in a small tin at the bottom of a gallon can. As the dogs begin to figure out what “seek” means, they are taught or “imprinted” with the scents they need to pay attention to.

When learning to differentiate the scents, the dogs will show small behavior changes during training — like tail wagging, drooling, or pulling toward the can containing the explosive scent — which can all indicate they are starting to catch on.

The signs are different for different dogs, which is why changes, even small ones, in normal behavior are important to look for.

K9 Nicole tilts her head, a sign specific to Nicole that indicates she’s beginning to understand what her handler is trying to teach her.

4 Work hard, play hard

Training should be fun, challenging, and rewarding — for both you and your dog. The energy and enthusiasm you put into the training session will affect your dog.

As our lead K-9 trainer Dennis says, “What you’re feeling runs straight down the leash to the dog.”

Having a bad day? Leave it at the door when you enter the training room.

And, while it’s important to stay focused and energetic while training, unstructured play and relaxation is just as necessary. Dogs, like people, need time to unwind.

K9 Nicole excitedly bounds through the training center during a play break.

5 Watch for patterns

As with any person who learns the ins-and-outs of their job, dogs can get lazy and fall into patterns. An important aspect of any training routine is to watch for those patterns and disrupt them.

If you always tell your dog to sit before her evening meal, try getting her to lay down instead, or sit randomly while on her daily walk. If you have trained your dog to “find” his toy, try hiding it up high or in a completely unexpected place.

You want to keep your dog challenged and motivated to think through tasks. This is critical for service animals like our explosives detection dogs (and their handlers) who have to switch up routines and keep their training fresh to avoid falling into predictable thinking and behavior.

Sometimes, dogs can actually outsmart their owners by picking up on patterns. One black Lab in the K-9 unit has used her keen observation skills to outsmart the trainers.

When imprinting the dogs to recognize a new explosive scent, the trainers place several cans in a large circle, some with the scent of an explosive and others with distractor scents. Trainers will often dent the side of the cans containing the explosive’s scent so they will visually know which cans the dogs should indicate on.

This Lab, however, caught on to what the trainers were doing and began to indicate on the correct cans based on sight not smell.

The trainers started marking the cans with chalk instead to change the pattern. Undeterred, the Lab soon noticed the chalk marks and began looking for those cans.

6 Introduce challenges

Once your dog learns the new command or behavior you want to teach her, introduce distractions to help her learn to differentiate between the wanted behavior (for example, sitting at the front door) and unwanted behavior (bolting outside as soon as the front door opens).

The distractions can include things that will temp your dog or provide an obstacle to the wanted behavior. (Maybe have someone ring the doorbell or have someone with another dog standing outside when you open the door).

By doing so, you can desensitize your dog to specific distractions and reinforce the desired behavior.

For our explosives detection dogs, we introduce “distractors” — the stuff you don’t want the dogs to indicate on — which consist of all kinds of smells they’ll come into contact with either on a daily basis or during the course of their work.

Our K-9s are exposed to hundreds of different distractors, including things like dish soap, baking soda, and cheese-doodles.

K9 Suni searches the tires of a car for hidden explosive scents during training. Although there are lots of loud noises and other distractions where she’s searching, Suni is focused on her job.

7 Consistency is key

One of the biggest mistakes people make when training their dog is to teach the dog something and then abandon the training plan. Dogs will pick up on inconsistencies in training and take advantage of them.

Stay consistent with your commands, training schedule, and methodology. Even something as simple as changing a command from “sit” to “sit down” can cause confusion while training.

Familiarization and repetition are key factors in a dog learning new behaviors.

By staying consistent, once our K-9 trainers teach the pups the initial concept of “seeking” a scent, they can imprint a dog with a new odor in five minutes.

After about a month of training, the pups will be able to learn and remember 18 new explosive scents in a single week!

Although K9 Freya may appear to be taking a break, she’s actually sitting as a signal to her handler that she found the explosive scent our trainers hid in a giant warehouse. Good job, Freya!

8 Take breaks

Some training sessions will go exceptionally well, while others can be rocky. It’s okay to take a break and return to the task if either you or your dog gets frustrated. Both dogs and trainers need down time, and taking breaks with your dog is as important as the time you spend training.

During the initial imprinting class for the new CIA K-9 pups, they work in short 15-minute sessions throughout the day, with lots of breaks in between. Sometimes they rest in their crates, other times they go outside to expend some energy and just be dogs. Some days, at the end of class, the pups will get free time to just romp around and play together.

By taking breaks, the dogs are able to better focus during training sessions, which in turn makes those sessions more productive and fun.

9 Utilize your dog’s natural energy level

A dog’s energy will fluctuate throughout the day, but each dog has a natural base energy level.

Some dogs are extremely hyper (think of a ball-obsessive Border Collie who can play fetch for hours and then go for a 10-mile jog) while others are couch potatoes.

Whatever your dog’s natural energy level is, utilize that for training. A hyper-active dog is going to need more stimulation and exercise, and perhaps taking him or her out for a run or to play fetch before a training session will help your dog focus when it’s time to learn.

Along the same line, if you want to pursue activities or jobs with your dog, take into account your dog’s personality and energy level.

For example, when evaluating potential puppies for our explosive detection dogs, the trainers look for drive and energy that is hard to shut down. The dog needs to be able to adapt to a constantly changing schedule and environment, and a high energy dog that is always “on” tends to cope best in those situations.

On the flip side, a therapy dog needs to stay calm and consistent in a variety of circumstances, so a high-energy, hyper-active dog may not be the best choice.

10 Always end on a positive

If a mistake happens during training, or you or your dog get frustrated, it’s okay to stop the session early. Just be sure to end the lesson on a positive note.

Even if it’s an easy win (something you know your dog will succeed at) it’s important to finish with both you and your dog feeling good. That way, you’ll both be excited and look forward to your next training session.

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