Why Are Police Dogs Trained In German And Other Languages


Let’s preface by saying that dogs don’t understand human language. So what is the idea behind training our dogs using different languages? Did you know that most police dogs are trained in the German language, among other languages? 

The reason behind this is simple. Most police dogs are imported from Germany, which is the dogs’ country of origin. The dogs are given basic training in German before they’re imported into the US or other countries. That’s why it’s easier to build upon the german commands that they know already. 

Yet, there is more to it than just that. It’s not just that Germany is their home country, it could also be in the language itself. Read on to know the reason why are police dogs trained in german and other languages.     

Police Dogs Imported From Germany Have A German Background 

Police Dogs Imported From Germany Have A German Background 

Before we get to know why most of these working dogs are trained in German, we need to understand where they come from. Police forces could get their canines from multiple sources. Some dog owners donate their dogs to the police, while some dogs are imported from Europe.

Dogs imported from Europe have some advantages over those raised in the USA. First of all, these dogs are bred according to certain criteria to ensure that they’re in their best shape and mental capability. They also go through high-quality training and receive an international certificate before being exported to the USA. 

Germany And Belgium: The Largest Markets

Most police dogs are German Shepherds. There are also other popular police dog breeds like Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers, which both originated from Germany. 

As the name suggests, German Shepards also originate from Germany. As a matter of fact, most police dogs either originate from Germany or Belgium.

Language Crossroads

The police force recruits purebred German Shepherds (or other breeds) for K-9 units. Some dogs are imported as puppies but most of them are recruited when they’re physically and mentally fit for the job. The best age range would be from 11 months to 3 years. 

At this point, they’ll have received some basic training in their home country. Of course, that training is in their native language. After they’re exported to the US, they’re given more training to fit the K-9 unit requirements. 

Now it’s the handler’s choice, whether to build upon that base that the dog has or start all over again. It depends whether the handler is comfortable enough with those command words or not. 

If not, then they have to teach the dog to associate the old training they’ve received with the new command words or gestures that the handler is going to teach them. 

If that happens, then the dog becomes bilingual. Especially since most of the breeds used are very smart. German Shepherds like to please their handlers and so will pick up the new commands fairly quickly. That’s pretty cool for a police dog. 

Which do you think is easier, to teach a police officer some German or foreign words or to teach the dog English words? You’re not raising a puppy here, you’re training a dog with a German background. 

If you tear that background and replace it with English then the dog might be overwhelmed and confused. The same goes for other languages. Bloodhounds are popular police dogs who originated from Belgium. 

Chances are that this dog was trained in Dutch. It’s not necessarily German that’s used all the time when training police dogs, rather, it’s the country of origin’s language. 

But Why German

Another theory behind using the German language for police dog training is the sternness associated with the language. 

We’ve all heard spoken German at some point in our lives. Unlike French, the language of love, German is a little harsh. It evokes obedience and attention from the dogs when spoken. 

It does make sense the more you think about it. “Zurückweichen” is German for “back-up”. Just by looking at the two words, you can almost hear the difference in the tone and sternness between the two. 

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Debunking the Myth 

Why Are Police Dogs Trained In German And Other Languages

Many people who know that police dogs are trained in German think it’s because German isn’t very common in the states. Sure, a lot of people know German, but how likely is it that a criminal or a random bystander knows how to speak the language. 

Thus people think that using the German language to train the dog will prevent the dog from taking commands from other people. So in their minds, if someone yells “stop” or “sit” at the dog then it’ll stop chasing them or whatever it’s doing. 

This is completely false. Police dogs in Germany are trained in German too. Does that mean that anyone could give that dog commands? The police force in Germany doesn’t train their dogs in English or other foreign languages. 

Think about it this way, if you own a pet dog then it’s likely that your dog doesn’t respond to other people’s commands, only yours. That happens without hardcore training. 

That’s why police dog training is crucial. Any slip-ups might lead to incidents that could have been avoided. That’s why the dogs are extensively trained to listen to their trainer and only their trainer.

Do you think that a highly-trained canine police dog is going to obey other people other than their handler? Of course not, they won’t even listen to other police officers. 

If this was the case (which it’s not), then police dogs would be trained in any foreign language, not mainly german and dutch. 

But even so, it does make it less likely that other people can’t give them commands. After all, a dog isn’t a robot. It could get flustered every once in a while and follow the wrong command. Not knowing English commands decreases the chances of that happening. 

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Conclusion 

Now you know that police dogs aren’t trained in German just so other people can’t give it commands. It would be great to train your dog in their native language if you have a foreign dog. If you don’t have one, it would still be cool to train your dog in a foreign language and show off to friends and family. 

The relationship between a police dog and its handler is just like the relationship between a pet and its owner. It doesn’t matter what language you choose to train the dog in, it’s the bond between the two of you that delivers the meaning to your dog. 

Sarah Jones

Sarah is a passionate pet lover who owns several pets on her own. She loves to share her experience doing part-time writing to impart some useful tips to other pet owners.

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