The woof brigade

How a police dog and its handler turn into a crack team — it’s the long, gruelling hours of training
When a dog sniffs out evidence of a crime, it barks out the discovery.
Between the exploratory sniff and the exultant bark lies a story of rigorous training, stretching the limits of the canine and its handler.
A day with a police dog squad, comprising 26 Dobermanns and one Labrador and their 43 handlers at Egmore in Chennai, and later during a special training on a hillock at Tirusulam in the city show what it takes to make a dog and its handler a successful crime-detection pair. The handler has to first win the dog’s trust by small acts of love. For the dog, it’s not so much about nabbing the criminal as it is about pleasing its handler. So, in this line of work, caring handlers produce more obedient and effective dogs.
There are discipline drills that help the dog stay focussed while on duty. There are gruelling exercises both for the dogs and the police personnel partnering with them. Almost everyone in the squad bears fang marks, inflicted when playing the role of a criminal with a canine “let loose” on him in a mock drill. And the dogs go through demanding exercises such as walking on their hind legs, something they are required to do while searching for an object of crime.n Obviously, both man and animal are fit — for, the trail leading to the evidence may turn out to be long, often leading through unfriendly terrain. The training prepares them for such a situation. But the reward is worth the sweat and toil. For the handler, it’s knowing that dozens of lives have been saved by the timely detection of a bomb.
For the dog, it’s a loving pat from its handler, for a job well done.
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