The canine companions in the South Australian Police Dog Operations Unit are being treated to a working holiday across the state’s South East.
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- Police-dog handlers and their canines travelled to the South East to train in a different environment
- Their handlers say the dogs need to be exposed to work outside metro areas
- Police say the dogs were well-received in the towns where they aren’t often seen
Nineteen Brevet Sergeant police-dog handlers brought 15 German shepherd general-purpose dogs and 12 labrador passive alert drug detection dogs — or firearms and explosive detection dogs — to complete training exercises in Millicent, Rendelsham, Beachport and Southend.
Operations and training supervisor Sergeant Simon Rosenhahn said the dogs were put through training to get them accustomed to environments outside of the city.
“It’s no good just training a dog in the same street the whole time, they’ll get very good at doing what they need to do in that street,” he said.
“We always try to make the training as realistic as possible so exposing them to the different areas down here like the pine forests — it’s just another bit of exposure.”
The entire dog operations unit was able to train their dogs in the South East over the past two weeks.
The group stayed at the Noorla Yo-Long Blue Light camp at Rendelsham and gave talks at the Rendelsham Primary School, Beachport Primary school and met with the Mount Gambier Air Force Cadets.
“Most of our work is done solo, [just] handlers and the dog, so to be able to come together down to the South East and use all the different towns has been fantastic,” Sergeant Rosenhahn said.
“We can do some great tracking with the shepherds in the streets and through backyards and it’s just that ability to do uninterrupted training.
‘Their dog operations unit’
The handlers said they had great experiences meeting residents in regional towns.
“I think as soon as a policeman or policewoman walks down the street with a police dog, everyone wants to say hello,” Sergeant Rosenhahn said.
“We really appreciate that.
“It is great for us to interact with the public like that but, like any working dog, whether it’s a guide dog or police dog, we just need to make sure that when [the dogs] are working, they’re not there to be petted.
Police dogs clock on and off too
What might not be a well-known fact about police dogs, is the dog’s routine mirrors its handlers’ routine.
Each canine will spend its entire life with its handler, clocking on and off at the same time, leaving their handler’s home with them in the morning for work and coming home with them at night.
And eventually, retiring to the handler’s home at the average age of seven.
“When I’m on a day off, my dog’s on a day off and when I’m on holidays, our dog is on holidays,” Sergeant Rosenhahn said.
“They get walked on days off and go to the beach, pretty much just like a normal pet dog … but we always make sure that the most fun the dog has is always at work so that they love going.
“The minute they see us put on a uniform or start the car they’re raring to go.