How do I Become a K9 Officer?

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  • Written By: T. Webster
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Images By: U.s. Customs And Border Protection, Monika Wisniewska, Michael Ireland
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2018
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Becoming a K9 officer typically requires an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, along with an aptitude for working with dogs. Police departments tend to hire from within for these positions, selecting officers who not only excel but are good in public relations with the community. In addition to police work duties, K9 officers may represent their agency by conducting demonstrations at schools or various community groups.

Other requirements to become a K9 officer include having good health and being in good physical condition. The work may be fast-paced and cover an extended area over a short amount of time. Police dogs are used for detecting and apprehending criminals, which may include a foot chase. The dogs are also trained to pin down or clamp on to criminals and hold them until police arrive. Just the presence of a police dog is believed to intimidate some criminals from attempting to fight back while being arrested.

After earning a criminal justice degree, attending a police academy is the next step to become a K9 officer. This involves meeting any entrance requirements such as passing a test as well as passing both physical and psychological exams. A polygraph or lie detector test may also be required. Generally, misdemeanor or felony convictions are grounds for disqualification. Those admitted to the police academy can expect to receive a wide range of training relating to all laws, responsibilities, and requirements needed to become an officer.


Specialized training is required to become a K9 officer. This training is generally not included at an academy. The option to become a K9 officer usually comes after serving with a police agency for some time. In addition to having an aptitude for working with and understanding dogs, a K9 officer will train extensively with his or her police dog. Some dogs on a police force may be cross-trained in multiple areas and the officer may require specialized training as well. For example, some police dogs may specialize in sniffing out bombs, drugs, or weapons.

It takes a considerable amount of responsibility and time to become a K9 officer. The police dog must be kept in top health and condition. Home and family issues should also be taken into consideration. There must be ample room for the dog. Allergies, other pets, and the feelings of other family members must also be taken into account. Finally, because the work of police dogs is specialized, K9 officers may be expected to frequently be on-call.



Discuss this Article

Post 3

Yes, they take the dogs home with them at night.

Post 2

Does anybody know where the police dog sleeps at night? Is there a kennel set up at the police station or does the handler take the dog home every night? This is something I have always wondered about. It seems like a handler could develop a closer realtionship if he took the dog home. But at the same time, could they become too close and would this begin to effect the dog's training? So much to think about. I hope that someone can answer my question

Post 1

I think being a good K9 officer takes a special relationship with the dog. Obviously the dogs are trained very well and are taught to respond to any command, but still, I think the handler has to do more than just bark order if they want to work the do in a truly effective way.

I had a good buddy who was a K9 cop and he said there were certain times when he didn't even have to say anything to the dog. He just had to think it and some how the dog would pick up on his cues. They had a really special relationship and the dog was probably the best police dog in the area. It helped to make a few major drug busts.

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