K9 Recertification Process:What Does it Take?

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 05/07 2014 06:39PM

Updated 05/07 2014 06:41PM

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Twice a year police K9s and their handlers go through extensive training. This month the four legged officers show off their 'patrol' skills to renew their certification.

Andre is a seven year veteran of the Burlington Police force. And twice a year Andre and his handler, Corporal Wade Labreque go through a re-certification process.

"The skills that he does like everything that officers do, just like the human side of it, are perishable if you don't practice them. so making sure that we are practicing those skills and that we show every year that we can go through those and he's able to do that kind of stuff,” said Labreque .

Each phase of the eight hour course tests a different set of skills. First up is a run through of the basic commands.

“The basis for the whole certification is really the obedience of the dog,” said Labreque.

Other skills are tested as well such as tracking and agility. They also have to prove they can protect their partner when asked. The four legged officers demonstrate their ability to track suspects, find evidence, and sniff out drugs.

“In his career he's got over 500 drug finds in the city of Burlington and the surrounding area,” said Labreque.

Labreque says each of these tests simulates a real life situation the dog might encounter on the job.

“Gun fire will be going off around the dog as this is happening and they have to be able to move to the handler without being distracted by the gunfire. and at the end we call a bad guy out and pat him down, the dogs don't get a bite on that, so they have to be calm enough at the end of all that to know not to run up and bite the sleeve on the decoy,” said Labreque.

And while they might not encounter these scenarios every day; it’s important they are ready.

All K9 teams go through monthly training, but the recertification process is more involved. The next round of training is in December and that will cover narcotic detection. All of the training is paid for by the K9’s department.

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