Selecting And Raising The Potential Police Pup
R. S. Eden
When buying a puppy for the home, police or security work, take the time to check into various kennels as well as private breeders. Study the pedigrees to ensure purity and attempt to deal with breeders who will place a guarantee on the pup should elbow or hip displasia develop. Reputable breeders will have no hesitation in providing you with such a guarantee. Purebreds which are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club are preferable but not an absolute must.
Look carefully and get references from people who have bougt dogs from the breeder you are thinking of dealing with before making a decision. If possible have a look at other dogs sold by the breeder to ensure they are well tempermented. Once you have located a few reputable breeders it is time to choose the puppy you want.
When first choosing a puppy, the handler should watch the pups as a pack and observe each one. The ideal choice is an aggressive, self confident pup who shows leadership over the others, and who will readily approach you as a stranger without any hesitation or fear. Ideally we are searching for the Alpha male of the litter, or the next closest prospect depending on temperment. (Those who have an opportunity to see the pups suckling the mother will note the leaders of the litter almost always will be the ones using the teats which yield more milk and therefore the dominant pups force the others to less lucrative positions.) Beware of pups that whine, howl or bark constantly when excited as these habits may be hard to break and can be extremely annoying. These pups are very often anxious and al though in other tests may rate high, may have a tendency to be high strung and are often hard to settle down.
Once you have chosen one or two prospective pups, one at a time they should be removed from the litter to a place totally away from the mother and other siblings. Preferably to a place totally unfamiliar to the pup. This places stress on the puppy, as will other tests and will test his ability to adjust to his new situations. He should react positively to his new surround ings by investigating where he is at and becoming accustomed to his new surroundings. He should also respond to you in a friend ly, confident manner without becoming fearful or anxious. If the pup has a favorite toy, play with him for a while, and throw the toy a short distance to see if he will retrieve it for you. It is not neccesary that he return the toy, only that he shows an awareness to it, that he is playful, and is not afraid to carry something in his mouth.
Now that the puppy is showing some confidence, play with him and rough house with him a bit. Ascertain if he is willing to take a bit of guff without shying or running scared. There is no need to be very rough, just wrestle and tease him enough to get him worked up. If he responds by barking or playing right back, that is an excellent response. Take a rag and try to play tug of war with him. Tease him. Again an excellent response is if he will join in the game. At some point squeeze one of his toes firmly just enough to cause him some pain. He should be quick to forgive you and become trusting again.
The next test is again very simple, and enables the handler to test the pup to his reactions to sudden, new and unsettling noises. Take any two metal objects which you can clatter togeth er such as a pair of hubcaps and bang them together in front of the pup. If he shys away suddenly and shows some hesitation, this is alright, as long as he recovers and does not continue to show fear. The noise need not be excessive, only enough for the pup to notice it. Even though the candidate puppy may shy away in some circumstances, this is not a bad fault. The idea is to test the pups recovery time, to see that he is able to adapt to new sounds, surroundings, and in particularly that he reacts joyfully and confidently towards you as a stranger.
Pups which are older in the six to eight month age range can also be given the gun test. Put the pup on a leash and have a suspect with a revolver containing blank loads suddenly appear and fire a few rounds into the air. The pup may balk a bit, but as long as he doesn’t break and try to run or show a lot of fear or anxiety, he should be O.K. In most cases the reaction of a solid pup will be one of curiosity. His ears will perk up and he will show much interest in what is going on. Other candidate pups may even bark or lunge at the suspect, which is an excellent response.
One final test I utilize is with an umbrella. The shape of an umbrella is very unusual to some dogs and when opened suddenly can bring out some rather unusual reactions in a dog. Stand facing the dog with the umbrella in the closed position and the top point facing towards the dog. Have the handler place the dog, on lead at a sit position. Without warning open the umbrel la with a sudden fluent movement so the dog is suddenly facing a new unusual object. Again the ideal results are the same as those in the gun test sequence.