GHOST, Jack, Quokka, Riiva and Faustus are the newest WA pooch police recruits now three weeks into their training at Maylands Police complex.
The four general purpose dogs will train for about 14 weeks in obedience, decoy, defence, agility and man-work, while drug detection dog Quokka will undergo slightly different training for about 10 weeks.
Specially bred in Melbourne, the pooches are trained using Dutch commands at the Maylands facility as well as locations around Perth including Bentley TAFE, Lilac Hill, Ascot Racecourse and shopping centre car parks.
Dog handler Matt Muletta, whose companion Rumble died in November last year, was in the process of training German Shepherd Faustus who came to Perth from Tasmania.
Police Dog Squad training supervisor George Bogunovich said they looked for a high-drive well socialised dog that is able to work at heights.
“We introduce bite training early on in the course to get control and then we develop it further to different scenarios where they’re chasing someone or someone’s attacking them, we do it under gunfire,” he said.
“During bite work training dogs can have something we call ‘red mist’ where they get so enthused by the exercise… that’s what the training is for, to make sure we have complete control of the dog.
“The dogs are highly regarded, the guys work alone with their dog as a partner, they go to places most people won’t go.”
He said last year a general purpose dog tracked down a mental health patient covered in blood in Maylands.
Sgt Bogunovich said the dogs usually worked from age two to nine years unless injured and lived with their handlers, which helped develop the bond between the pair.
“Sometimes we look at the dog’s makeup and the personality of the officer and we try and bond them together; other times handler will come to us,” he said.
Sgt Bogunovich’s dog Holly, a Springer spaniel, was a bomb dog that attended VIP events such as Prime Minister visits, international cricket matches and even worked a U2 concert.
Some 75-80 per cent of the dogs were expected to pass the course and enter the police force.
There are currently 44 police dogs – 25 general purpose with three based in the regions, with the rest of the canines specialised in drugs, explosives and passive alerts.