How To Become A Police Dog Trainer: Education and Salary

How To Become A Police Dog Trainer: Education and Salary

A police dog trainer prepares dogs to work in k-9 units for law enforcement agencies to track criminals, detect drugs and explosives.

Dogs have proven to be the animal closest to mankind. In fact, some of them can read their owners’ emotions now. Aside from being man’s friend, dogs usually called the K-9 or Police dogs can assist the police and other law enforcement personnel. The fascinating question is how?

Well, these dogs undergo special training from certified police dog trainers. Hence, if you love dogs and like having them around as pets; you may consider making a career out of your love for dogs. If you are wondering how? This article on how to become a police dog trainer is all you need to start this journey.

So, I will pull you through a step-by-step guide to becoming a Police dog trainer. This will entail the right education, how much you make, and what happens to your K9 upon retirement from active service. You can quickly peruse the table of content below to get an overview of all that will be discussed in detail.

Who is a Police Dog Trainer?

A Police dog trainer is someone that teaches a dog basic hand signals and certain police force skills. These force skills include:

  • Tracking and catching criminals
  • Detecting contraband and explosives
  • Aiding in building search
  • Patroling
  • Protecting their trainers and other police members

In fact, a police dog trainer is one who works for a private training company that offers its services to personal dog owners in addition to law enforcement.

Basically, a police dog trainer teaches the dog how to respond to a command, be obedient to instructions and get the K9 dogs familiar with human contact and voices.

How much do Police Dog Trainers make?

Well, there is no specific salary statistics for a police dog trainer‘s salary. However, private dog trainers got an annual median salary of $26,610, while police and sheriff’s patrol officers, in general, earned $58,320, according to BLS in 2015.

Also, the median salary for all animal trainers was $27,690 in 2016 according to the data from BLS. Though, salaries depend on your experience and geographical location, and the certifications you have earned.

What educational qualifications do I need to become a K9 Trainer?

Most dog trainers were first, police officers. So, if you wish to become a police dog trainer, you should start your career as a police officer. You must complete the requisite police academy training plus one to two years of patrol experience before becoming eligible to transfer to a specialty K9 unit.

However, your experience as a regular patrol officer allows prospective k9 officers to gain valuable experience in law enforcement, build relationships, and make a positive impression on the department.

Though, having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree may make prospective k9 trainers more competitive in the selection process for this special duty depending on a certain policy of a police department. The following must be done before becoming a k9 trainer;

  • You should get the necessary education and/or job experience to become a police officer.
  • Apply for an open police officer or law enforcement position.
  • You must undergo a background investigation and provide your fingerprint.
  • Make sure you take and pass a polygraph test.
  • Take and pass a series of physical fitness tests.
  • Ensure that you take and pass a medical exam.
  • You should take an interview.
  • Make sure they hire you as a police officer.
  • Gain experience as a police officer, usually at least one or two years.
  • You should apply for an open police dog trainer position.
  • Take an interview for the position.
  • Begin working as a police dog trainer.
  • Take training on the job.

How long does it take to train a police dog?

Actually, some trainers begin testing and training litters of puppies when they are 6 weeks old. An example of testing a puppy at a young age is to roll a ball under a couch.  Many of the puppies will give up trying to get the ball since it is out of reach. 

However, the one persistent puppy that continues to try to get the ball for several minutes shows a high natural prey drive that is critical for police dogs.

Thus, when a dog is selected by a department to be their next K-9, their initial patrol training takes several weeks. Narcotic or Explosive detection school usually takes 3-4 weeks. After the initial training, the K-9 teams will train consistently in order to maintain their skills. All of their training is documented in logs for court purposes in the future.

What happens to a police dog when it retires?

In fact, the City will sell the dog to the handler for $1 upon the dog’s retirement. This sales transaction releases the city from liability. Actually, allowing the K-9 to remain in the home of his or her handler is the most humane way for the K-9 to enjoy his retirement.

How much does a police dog cost?

The current price for a police dog is approximately $12,000, excluding the training. The initial cost for the training of the dog for patrol and detection is another $11,000. Therefore, the total cost to purchase and initially train one police dog is approximately $22,500. 

This does not include any maintenance training, equipment, or supplies, which adds up to thousands of dollars per K-9 team each year.

Which breed of dog is mostly used as a police dog?

Honestly, the most commonly used breeds for police and military dogs around the world are German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois.  Both breeds have been used for police work for many years. They are both very versatile dogs who possess many qualities that are important for the work that they do.

These dogs are strong, fast, agile, smart, loyal, and of course, have a great nose to sniff out bad guys, drugs, and explosives. They have great behavior, which allows someone to introduce them to the public during demos.

What is the expected employment growth for police dog trainers?

Well, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a 5 percent expected rise for police dog trainers between 2014 and 2024. You can imagine that.

However, the average salary for a law enforcement k9 handler is $58,320 according to the report by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Are there Certification for police dog trainers?

Actually, some professional organizations give certificates to police dog trainers. The National Tactical Police Dog Association offers a Professional Handler/Trainer Proficiency Certification, and both civilian and law enforcement dog trainers can qualify.

Furthermore, the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) accredits NAPWDA Trainers and NAPWDA Masters Trainers. In fact, anyone applying has to be a serving or retired full-time law enforcement officers in a K-9 department.


According to research, dogs had the highest as the best pets a man can keep. In fact, one in every ten males would love a dog as a pet. While that is not all that is required to become a police dog trainer, it is an essential benefit. So, if you are a lover of dogs, you may actually consider making a career out of it.

Moreso, if you are already staff at any law enforcement agency. It is an interesting thing to know, that your dog can hear you, observe your actions and respond outrightly and correctly. Imagine working down a crime scene with a smart dog? It will make your job more interesting, rejuvenating, and a blissful moment always.

However, all you require to begin your career journey is right in front of you. See in detail, how to become a police dog trainer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the police department pay their dogs?

The answer is NO. Police dogs do not need a salary as their expenses, food, shelter, medical care are all provided by the department. However, the police dog trainer may receive extra pay to cover any incidental expenses as the dogs usually live with the k9 officer..

Does the police train their dogs?

Yes. This is because all police dogs must first become experts at basic obedience training. They must obey the commands of their handler without any delay. This helps to make the handler control the dog when it is using much force to attack a criminal.

What is the meaning of k9?

This is a police dog, known in some English-speaking countries as a “K-9” or “K9” (a homophone of “canine”). This is a dog that is specially trained to help the police and other law enforcement agencies.

How much does a service dog trainer make?

Police dog trainers earn an average of $34,941 per year.


How To Become A Police Dog Trainer: Education and Salary

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