Pet Education, Training & Behaviour Council

List of Roles: 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.

Overview of minimum skills and experience required:


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)
  • Written
  • 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)
  • Written
  • 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


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

Personal (Work Based) Achievements

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.

Reflective Learning

As a Dog Trainer, of any kind whether that’s club or professional, adult dogs or puppies, 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 dog we are training. Sometimes we change our position, the dog’s position, the motivating force (us, toy, food etc.,) or the equipment we use. As a dog trainer we just call that dog training, however, in the work based learning arena it’s called being a “reflective practitioner”.

It is imperative that Dog Trainers realise that they are reflecting back; not only with the dog they have in front of them but of past cases and dogs they’ve worked with. A Dog Trainer cannot progress without this aspect of experiential learning, it would be impossible as no two dogs are the same 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 Trainers, 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.