Penticton RCMP puppy-trainer is helping 'Nack' learn the profession | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton RCMP puppy-trainer is helping 'Nack' learn the profession

"Nack" is Penticton RCMP's latest canine candidate.
August 19, 2020 - 7:30 AM

Penticton Const. Mike Richardson is working on his dream job of becoming a dog handler for the RCMP.

The general duty officer, who works out of the Penticton RCMP detachment, was out at the nearly empty Penticton Regional Airport today, Aug. 18, putting his latest charge, a German Shepherd pup named “Nack,” through the regular Tuesday training regime.

“We’ve been training here the past couple of weeks, but Nack has been to several commercial and retail businesses in Penticton, getting used to different parts of the city,” Richardson explains.

Nack is rewarded for his efforts with strategically placed treats.
Nack is rewarded for his efforts with strategically placed treats.

Richardson raises dogs. It’s been his long-term goal to become a police dog handler.

“I became a member of the police and six months later took the puppy-raising course in Alberta. I’m now a general duty member in Penticton, raising dogs on my time for the police dog services section,” Richardson says.

There are currently two working police dogs in Penticton, and two police dog handlers. There’s no guarantee the dog Richardson trains will make its home in the Peach City.

“The dog is an asset of the RCMP and could go anywhere in Canada,” he says.

Trust and obedience are two of the most necessary qualities of a police dog.
Trust and obedience are two of the most necessary qualities of a police dog.

He’s been training Nack since the pup was seven weeks old. The RCMP only uses German Shepherd dogs in police work, and only one in four make the grade.

Richardson will train the dog for at least a couple of years before it becomes ‘employable’ as a police dog, where it will continue to train during its' working life of generally six to eight years.

After around three years, the dogs ‘specialize,’ training to ferret out bombs or drugs.

Richardson says all dogs are trained to track people, with some becoming ‘bomb dogs’ and others, ‘drug dogs.’

Nack is the third dog, Richardson has trained. He says it’s easy to become attached to them.

“My last dog was hard to give up because he was so well-behaved and hard working on our training days. Dogs are probably the most underrated members of the RCMP. At the end of the day, they are members,” he says.

He adds that obedience is probably the biggest factor in being a successful police dog candidate.

The dog and its handler must be able to trust each other. If the dog won’t listen to its’ handler, it’s going to get into trouble,” Richardson says.

Penticton Const. Mike Richardson says he moves Nack's training sessions around the city to get the dog used to being in different places.
Penticton Const. Mike Richardson says he moves Nack's training sessions around the city to get the dog used to being in different places.

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