Canine Officer Training Overview

Together with North East Multi-Regional Training Inc., Mobile Team #3 of Illinois Local Law Enforcement Training Standards Board (NEMRT), we have created our successful Basic Canine Officer Training program. Designed for any federal, state, county or local law enforcement agency, our program prepares an officer and canine partner in all phases of law enforcement canine service. When each team completes the program successfully, the handler will understand how to work his canine in order to have the team constantly prepared for any situation which may occur in the course of duty.

Ours is a 20-week program. During the first 12 weeks, we conduct a pre-training program for the canine only. During this time, we select a male German Shepherd between 8 and 24 months old. Once he passes a complete veterinarian's physical (including hip X-rays) the 12-week in-kennel pre-training begins.

During the pre-training program our canines are socialized and receive a solid grounding in obedience work, which we feel is the basis for all subsequent training. At the conclusion of the training program, your TOPS canine will do on- and off-lead obedience and handler protection. The canine will also have the basics of building, area and article searches; tracking; narcotics detection; and the obstacle, agility and confidence course.

The second stage of Basic Canine Officer Training is the 380-hour, 8-week program at TOPS teaching the canine and handler to work together. During these 8 weeks, officers and their canine partners follow a rigorous training schedule. Although our schedule is intense and structured, we have built in the flexibility to allow for variances in the individual canine teams as they progress through training.

During both the pre-training sessions for your canine and the 8-week team training program, the canines will be exposed to as many varied situations as possible in an attempt to familiarize each team with the full range of law enforcement service. Training is conducted at all hours of the day and night, to prepare canine teams for whatever schedule they may be working after course completion. This exposure also prepares the canine team to successfully function under almost all stressful and non-stressful conditions.

The cost of the program includes the pre-trained dog, the handler/dog training and all equipment and notebooks. After training, further certification may also be obtained through the North American Police Work Dog Association. All canine officer training programs are registered through NEMRT.

What makes NEMRT's Basic Canine Officer Course so different?

  • You save time and money; the officer and dog train together for 8 weeks, after the dog has been pre-trained for 12 weeks.
  • At TOPS in Grayslake, Illinois, each dog receives an extensive 12-week pre-training. The pre-training of the dog is done without the active participation and salary commitments required in other comparable programs. This remarkable turn-around time not only cuts basic canine training as a unit in half, but assures the kind of reliability of match that guarantees outstanding police work between officer and canine.
  • TOPS has a proven track record in Northern Illinois.

NEMRT's training reputation, coupled with Alex Rothacker's proven reputation for training successful police dogs and canine officers assures you that the pre-selected TOPS canine, or the canine selected by your department, goes through a rigorous pre-training phase to prepare it for the joint phase of training with your officer. This break-in period is followed by "team training," during which the officer and dog conclude the remaining 40% of the basic training.

Officers learn the latest in-service techniques to maintain and correct canine team problems.
Since each class is limited to only 4 teams, each is exposed to all stressful and non-stressful conditions encountered by a full-service law enforcement canine team. Rigorous testing, obstacles, obedience, tracking, article searches, handler protection, legal issues, building searches, crowd control, narcotics searches and apprehension tactics are practiced and tested. The canine team, upon completion of the program, may also be certified by the American Police Work Dog Association.

Full Service Canine Unit means the dog can perform in all the areas described below:

  • Dog and officer safety (during both vehicle stops and building searches)
  • Medical care, feeding, equipment recommendations and kenneling
  • Liability, asset forfeiture, training documentation, reports and court presentations
  • Crowd control, obedience, tracking and agility
  • Article search, area/field search, and building searches
  • Night practical applications
     Narcotics Proficiency
  • TOPS' dogs are guaranteed.
    There are no lemons. We are so confident in the dogs selected by TOPS that any dog will be replaced free of charge if not compatible with your canine officer. Our experienced trainers will be able to determine within the first few days of training whether the dog needs to be replaced. Chiefs are advised throughout the program of all progress of the team. This superior training plan keeps chiefs abreast of their investment. Departments don't have the burden of unnecessary downtime, or of replacing a dog that fails to work out. Any new team will be given extra time as needed to catch up to the rest of the class.

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