It’s no question that police dogs are hard workers. They bring unique assets to the force like heightened senses, speed, strength, and loyalty. Yet, one question you may have is whether or not they get paid for these contributions.
Police dogs do not get paid while on duty the way a human employee does. That is, they don’t get a salary or an hourly wage. However, police dogs do get “paid” in the form of shelter, food, care, and treats.
Just because police dogs aren’t paid by the police department, doesn’t mean they aren’t rewarded for their hard work. Though, it also doesn’t mean that they don’t cost the police department any money. I’ll explain the different ways that police dogs are “paid” for their work without earning a wage in this article.
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Do Police Dogs Get Rewards?
A dog doesn’t have a bank account, so it cannot receive a paycheck. Yet, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get rewarded.
Police dogs do get rewarded every day with the excellent diet, healthcare, and attention they receive from their handlers and the police department they belong to. You could consider this one of the ways that a police department “pays” for these team members.
Though their training is more intense, according to Police Chief Magazine, a police dog’s training isn’t too fundamentally different from your average Fido’s: If they perform the task correctly they’re rewarded. This can be in the form of praise, toys, or treats.
Do Police Dogs Get Treats?
Some dogs are more food-driven and some are more attention-driven. Handlers will figure out what their dogs like when they are young and use that to motivate the dog at work.
Police dogs do get treats if they’re an effective reward for the dog. Every dog has its own reward preference that makes them happy. Whether that’s treats, toys, or pets, police dogs get rewarded accordingly.
This helps us remember that dogs enjoy the work they have been trained to do. Police dogs are usually breeds that have been bred for a high drive for their task, meaning they instinctively enjoy it. This is reinforced in training when tasks as serious as sniffing explosives are turned into a game for the dog. In one way, getting to go to work is reward enough!
How Often Do Police Dogs Get a Day Off?
Even with the rewards they receive, it must be tiring to be a police dog. It’s nice to know that after a hard day’s work, police dogs go home with their handlers and get to curl up with their family.
Police dogs get a day off as often as their handlers do, typically one or two days a week. It’s even normal for police dogs to go on vacation with their handlers and their families! According to Police Chief Magazine, this helps create a strong, foundational bond that police dogs need for success.
The Cost of Police Dogs
Most police dogs are bred and trained in Europe, where the standards of care and breeding are high. As I mentioned, the lineage of these dogs is a big part of what makes them so successful, so departments won’t hesitate to buy the expensive pups from Europe rather than your local breeder. Although it typically costs about $8,000 to purchase and fly over a highly trained and well-bred dog.
Still, while many dogs are trained as puppies, they often receive additional training when they arrive in their department. Specialized training like Patrol Work, Detection, and Hard Surface Tracking can cost an additional $12,000 to $15,000.
These prices may seem high, but when you consider that dogs usually serve on the force for about ten years, this becomes quite reasonable. Then, the police department is on the hook for the dog’s food, veterinary bills, and general upkeep.
However, some police departments are starting to pay for dogs even after they retire. One department in the United Kingdom instituted a policy that would provide up to £500 per year to support any medical care the dog may need for up to three years after retirement. In the United States, the National Police Dog Foundation also raises money to help support retired police dogs.
While police dogs aren’t paid a salary, they are certainly rewarded for their hard work. They get to spend all day with their owner, which is more than most of our dogs can say, doing work they love.
While working, they receive treats or toys and lots of praise from their handlers. On top of this, the police department must pay them for their food, shelter, and veterinary bills, sometimes even after they retire.
- Daily Mail: Police Dogs Pension Plan: Animals Given 1500 to help pay medical bills after they retire from service
- How Stuff Works: How Police Dogs Work
- Police Chief Magazine: Product Feature: K-9 Units: Training and Protection Key to Keeping Dogs and People Safe
- Cape Coral Police Department: How Much Training Do the K9s Get?
- National Police Dog Foundation: FAQ