What does a K9 Officer do?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Images By: U.s. Customs And Border Protection, Wellphoto, Monika Wisniewska, Michael Ireland
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2019
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A K9 officer spends his days working to uphold the law with the help of a trained dog. This dog uses his nose, sight, and hearing for detecting the presence of illegal items or substances. The team also searches out human beings who may be hiding or have been injured or trapped during a natural disaster or an accident. They are also helpful for detecting items people are trying to smuggle from one location to another.

There are many law enforcement agencies that hire K9 officers, and the types of tasks required may depend on the agency and the environment in which the officer and dog are expected to work. Some K9 officers may be given airport assignments, for example. In such a case, the officer works with his dog to detect the presence of illegal drugs or smuggled contraband, which includes anything that is illegal to import or export, in travelers’ luggage.

Sometimes, K9 officers are given border assignments, which means they patrol areas where individuals cross from one country to another. In such a case, a K9 officer and his dog may work together to detect smuggled drugs and prevent them from entering a particular region. The officer and dog team may also work to detect the presence of contraband and even human beings someone is trying to smuggle into or out of a country.


While a K9 officer’s job often includes catching criminals in the act, that’s not all this type of law enforcement officer does. Often, K9 officers help to lead rescue efforts after natural disasters, major accidents, and even terrorist attacks. If a building falls down or otherwise collapses and traps humans in the rubble, an officer and his dog may be instrumental in finding them.

The training required for an individual who wants to become a K9 officer may vary depending on the jurisdiction and particular law enforcement agency. Typically, an individual interested in this field has to become a police officer or other type of law enforcement official first. After gaining experience in law enforcement, he may then go on to train as a K9 officer.

An officer and his dog work as a team. This requires a prospective K9 officer to train with his dog, ensuring that the dog will follow commands and the officer will understand when his dog attempts to alert him to the presence of drugs, criminals, or other items. Often, an officer and his dog continue to train periodically, even after they’ve been a team for quite a while.


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Post 3

The dog acts as a conduit to the officer in charge. He listens to what the officer says and follows his explicit commands.

As it is stated in this article, they train for thousands of hours, and work as a team. Therefore, the dog attacks a suspect per the instructions of its master. In fact, K9 units consist of just one person and a dog. These officers do not have human partners; their partners are the dogs. If you have ever interacted with a K9 officer, you would realize that the bond that they have with their partner is no different that the bond that two humans feel for each other.

Someone drawing down on the dog is no different

than someone drawing down on a human LEO. Therefore, it makes sense that a dog, acting under a LEO, would be given the same protections as any other officer. The dog is part of a team, and his legal and actual safety is of importance too.
Post 2

@spreadsheet - I agree with you on that last point. Dogs lack the ability to understand the concept of police brutality. They can also gnaw off an arm with relative ease. They don't speak English and don't have any real way of understanding if they're going too far. In addition, they can't testify in court as human officers can. It is surprising to me that they get the same legal coverage as human cops. How do they even acknowledge those rights? Do they sign the paperwork with a paw print?

Post 1

One fact that seems important to this article is that K9 dogs are actually considered officers of the law and have the same protections and punishments that cover a human officer.

This means that if a suspect defends himself against an attacking K9 dog he can and will almost certainly be charged with assaulting an officer. I personally do not think this is appropriate as you cannot expect a dog to have the same kind of training, intelligence and judgment as a professional peace officer.

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