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Rain or snow, this pup will find you

Deb Matejicka
Calgary bureau reporter

Friday, March 7, 2014, 11:27 AM -

He’s cute, cuddly and oh so playful.

He’s also being trained to track you down should you run afoul of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

His name is Falko and he is a six-month-old Potential Police Service Dog (PPSD), better known as a police dog in training. Falko entered the training program at just seven weeks old and has been “learning the ropes” in Lake Louise, Alta., from his ‘imprinter’ Constable Phil Caza of the RCMP.

Like most puppies, Falko is also being kennel trained, taught not to bark, and being kept cleaned. Unlike most other pups, however, aggression training has slowly been introduced, starting with a simple rag.

“It's all about being fun for them. We play tug of war. We introduce the ball to them.”

Weather also plays an important role is a puppy’s training.

The tracking training begins with a very short track, only about 2-3 feet long. The imprinter’s job is to slowly get the dog to associate the human scent to a reward at the end of the track (the ball usually). There is also a lot of familiarization and socialization with the puppies to get them used to different environments and different people.

“We try to train in every weather possible as a police dog and his handler will always go no matter what the weather is. We have working dogs everywhere in Canada, from the warm weather of BC, to the coldness of the North West Territories,” says Caza.

MUST SEE RESCUE: Tub of puppies rescued from the cold

Snow makes it impossible to do tracking training, as grass is needed while wind direction becomes very important when tracking training is possible.

“We need the wind to be in their back so they don't learn to trail but to track.”

Falko still has six more months of this type of training before he can potentially be selected to be paired up with a dog handler who is going into training. If he does get paired, then the “real” training begins.

“It's an 85 days training (program) at the training centre in Innisfail, Alta. It's an intensive training to get the dog and the dog handler trained and ready for the field,” claims Caza.

It is still too early to tell if Falko will pass all the tests necessary to become a full-fledged PPSD, but if he does, you might just have the opportunity to see him in action – hopefully not in pursuit of you but rather at the Police Dog Service Training Centre, Depot Division in Innisfail, during a 45-minute public demonstrations run every Wednesday between Victoria Day and Labour Day.

The demonstrations are free of charge.

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