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Work Based Learning role description:

The Police Dog Training Instructor

The Police Dog Training Instructor will have acquired on the job vocational training and learning through training Police dogs on a one to one basis, and group training, having gone through the basic training and working an operational police dog.

Once an officer has demonstrated their skills and abilities as a working handler over a number of years, they can apply to become an Instructor or be selected as a potential Police Dog Training Instructor. The Police Dog Handler or Police Force identifies potential through the personal development system within each force and a continuous development programme is activated.

The emphasis on the Police Dog Training Instructor is one of training the handlers to train the dog rather than training the dog himself, as such the importance is on experience in people skills as well as understanding dog training techniques, and a deep understanding of dog related issues and the complexities of training techniques. The Police Dog Training Instructor will generally be an experienced and proficient dog handler.

The Police Dog Training Instructor needs to have in-depth people training skills, people psychology skills and body language awareness. The Police Dog Training Instructor will have been trained in teaching skills providing the Instructor with the underpinning knowledge in teaching techniques, student management, lesson planning, and assessment grading prior to participating in the General Police dog trainers’ course. This enables the Instructor to become a competent and proficient Instructor in people skills, along with a gained knowledge of working Police dogs.

Administration and planning skills are essential as part of the role of the Police Dog Training Instructor as they involve lesson planning, session planning, and development of schemes of work, identification of learning skills, managing group dynamics, risk assessments, use of instructional techniques, coaching methods, de-briefing students, problem identification and solving, action planning, evaluating and report writing, curriculum design, to name a few.

Minimum vocational training requirements

The Police Dog Training Instructor will be an experienced Police dog handler / trainer. As such the minimum vocational training requirements for both dog training and dog training instructor apply.

Practical experience / courses attended

General Police Dog initial course

Working experience life of a working dog 6-8 years

Specialist Police dog initial courses plus working experience

Instructors course classroom skills or

Advanced Cert Ed / BTEC Advanced Diploma in general purpose dog instruction

Mentored learning

Teaching assistant: GPD refresher course, continuation training and re-licensing (shadowed and supported through continual assessment)

Teaching assistant: GPD initial course / (shadowed and supported through continual assessment)

Overview of minimum skills and experience required:

The Police Dog Training Instructor will be an experienced dog handler. As such the minimum skills and experience required apply.

Reflective Learning

As a Police Dog Training Instructor we are constantly evaluating what we are doing when we are doing it.

We start training an exercise and modify what we are doing depending upon the response we get from the owner and dog we are training. Sometimes we change their position, the dog’s position, the motivating force (toy, food etc.,) or the equipment used. As a Police Dog Training Instructor we just call that teaching, however, in the work based learning arena it’s called being a “reflective practitioner”.

It is imperative that Police Dog Training Instructors realise that they are reflecting back; not only with the relationship they have in front of them but of past cases and dogs they’ve worked with. A Police Dog Training Instructor cannot progress without this aspect of experiential learning, it would be impossible as no two owners are the same and neither are their dogs and no two will react in the same manner.

Although we do it automatically, the importance of reflection in learning at work and awareness of the process, needs to be acknowledged for an individual to be able to carry out any kind of self-accreditation via the work based learning scheme.

Technical and textbook knowledge, though important, is insufficient to prepare individuals to be practising professionals. Knowing how or “knowing-in-action” must also be recognised as important. Knowing-in-action is referred to tacit and intuitive, rather than explicit knowledge, learned through doing rather than in the classroom. It is the kind of knowledge that underpins much everyday activity, whether at work or not.

Knowing-in-action is vital for dog training instructors, as, as we all know, ‘real’ world problems tend to be “messy” rather than well formed. Problems with dogs tend to come along in rapid succession depending upon our reaction rather than nicely organised “first solve this problem, then solve that” as is often written in dog training books. Also some problems may well be unique to that situation, in the sense that they do not fit theoretical categories and therefore do not lend themselves to the applications of rules from the profession’s theoretical knowledge base.

When something untoward does happen it is likely to reflect on what’s going on in the midst of the activity itself. It is a consequence of this process that is known as “reflection-in-action” i.e. thinking about what we’re doing while we’re doing it and changing the process as we go along.

To be able to put into practice these reflective skills, both during and after the action, is what makes you a truly reflective practitioner.

Donald Schon (1983, 1987)

Comparative Assessment elements

In general an Animal Behaviour Degree will average 1800 hrs study time on wild animals and some domestic species. Dog specific theory is generally taught at less than 5% of the entire degree and rarely by a dog expert but by a teacher who has no practical experience. Animal behaviour degrees are not an expertise level in dog behaviour, training, theory or otherwise.

All vocational learning in canine work-based roles should be taught by highly skilled people with extensive hands-on experience. Degrees obtained, therefore, provide targeted theory learning in canine behaviour and training as well as extensive hands-on work to prepare the student for their chosen vocation.




How people learn / different learning styles

Indicators of stress in people

Human body language

How to motivate

Both at a group level and individually

Teaching skills

Both at a group level and individually

Communication skills

Verbally (in person and over the phone)


Active listening

Both at a group level and individually

Presentation skills

Man management skills

Time management skills

Administration skills

Assessments of both handler and dog

Selection, development and assessment of handlers and dogs / puppies

Understanding of annual licensing procedures

Clear understanding of ‘working injuries and ailments’

Team building skills required by handler and instructor

Sound appreciation of training equipment its care and use

Knowledge and understanding of decoy terminology

Understanding canine behaviour

Identification of Prey and Defence drives

Promoting Prey drive

Breeding, selection, development and assessment of puppies / dogs for Police work

Training design and delivery

How people learn

Indicators of stress in people

Human body language

How to motivate

Both at a group level and individually

Teaching skills

Both at a group level and individually

Communication skills

Verbally (in person and over the phone)


Active listening

Both at a group level and individually

Presentation skills

Man management skills

Time management skills

Administration skills

Provide essential environmental training for GPD and specialist Police dog training and what it entails

Dynamic risk assessment for training purposes

Policies and procedures in working environments

Instructional techniques, coaching methods problem identification and solving, action, planning, de-briefing, evaluation methods, assessment criteria, behavioural statements

Spatial awareness when training

Awareness of other dogs, handlers or objects in the area whilst working with a dog so as not to stress the dog by banging into things or moving across the path of another dog.

Different types of environments in which dogs have to work health and safety issues, risk assessments, appropriate training equipment, right protection for helpers, bite sleeves, covert sleeves, safety equipment

Environmental awareness when training

A high awareness of events happening during training is crucial, for example knowing who is coming into the area

and within, what types of environment that the dog needs to work in, pedestrian and vehicle movements.

Weather conditions, varying terrains time of day / night conditions wind / rain / heat / temperature / ice snow.

Terrain being used / time factors


When training you need to be aware of change as and when it happens and be able to deal with it, for example if a dog is brought for training on Flat collar with training lead and on the Next on a check chain and lead, appropriate use of collars

Consistency of voice and tone delivery

Environmental changes / distractions

Change of environment too soon

Conditioning to same environments

Need to change and test dogs’ capabilities in varied working conditions

Ancillary Work Based Learning Skills

As well as being an established Police Dog Training Instructor, the candidate may also have a plethora of other dog training skills, attended many courses and achieved many awards on a personal basis with their own dogs.

They may have qualifications outside the dog training arena that contribute to their competence, confidence and skill as a Police Dog Training Instructor and, under the Work Based Learning ethos, these should be acknowledged and recognised as achievements to date within the profession.

Accomplishments and Qualifications

Training course providers

Personal (Work Based) Achievements

Cambridge Institute for Dog Behaviour & Training

Animal Care College

Guide dog training

National Association of Security Dog Users

Home Office police dog training

The British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers

Other courses are also available

KC Competition obedience

KC Beginner

KC Novice

KC A B C comp-C

KC Agility

KC Working Trials




KC Field Trials

KC Bloodhound Trials

KC Herding Tests

Search & Rescue Cert

KC Accredited Instructor

The Kennel Club (KC) standards are some of the best in the world and to compete and win is an acknowledgement comparable with other high standards of training knowledge as in the horse world and international competitive events.