Career Focus: What's it like to Be a Patrol Dog Handler in Alberta?

 February 28, 2023    Alberta Security Hub Staff

Picture of K9 dog

In this first edition of our Career Focus series, we take a look at the aspects of working as a patrol dog handler, and whether or not it's the right career choice for you.

For starters, as a patrol dog handler you will be an essential part of community by serving and protecting, with the added benefit of working with a dog! If you are someone who is interested in working in the law enforcement industry and has a passion for working with dogs, then this is the position for you!

Some Qualities Employers Look For in patrol dog handlers are excellent decision making skills, patience, self regulation, exceptional verbal and written communication (This is especially useful when writing reports). Another key skill you should have is customer service skills / experience as you will likely have numerous interactions with the public each day. Some interactions will be positive and others negative so it is crucial that you are able to deal with all sorts of people from different walks of life. Having previous work experience in the security industry is also a plus. It should also be noted that this position does require a lot of standing and walking around since you will dynamically be patrolling in and around a set place / area.

As for licensing, an Alberta Security Licence will suffice to become a dog handler, however many positions do require the applicant to possess a valid Drivers Licence and provide a clean drivers abstract. Although some employers may provide vehicles for work related use, you may also be asked to use your own vehicle for transportation which means you'll need an approved crate to safely transport the dog with you. Upon receiving a job offer, you may need to provide a Criminal Background Check and attain security clearances. You will complete a criminal background check as part of your security licencing. Additionally, there may be programs that are part of training, such as a K-9 training program, which you will have to take in order to be prepared to work with an animal in this rewarding career.

There are a variety of situations in which you and your dog may find yourselves in, some where you protect and patrol, and others where you detect danger and other potential threats. Protection and detection are key distinctions you may notice about certain positions. Some examples include; searching for suspects or persons of interest, finding illegal and dangerous substances, patrolling to ensure safety and security in a given place and responding to calls for help, typically with assistance from police. Given these situations, you may find yourself working in different settings, whether it be outdoors in various weather conditions or in indoor settings such as an airport, major transit hub, retail store or government property depending on your employer and where they provide service. On the topic of employers, there are job opportunities within provincial and federal government law enforcement and security services such as the RCMP.

After a day of patrolling, you get to live with and take care of your patrol dog at home. This presents a unique opportunity to not only work with a dog, but also develop a bond and know what it's like to take care of one. Patrol dog handlers also have the responsibility of training their dogs frequently to ensure their dog can continue to adapt to various situations and detect harmful objects and substances.

Want to see what it's really like out there? Here are some videos that showcase a day in the life of a Patrol Dog Handler and what they do:

Undecided on working in the Alberta security industry? Click Here to gain more insight as to whether or not a security career is right for you.

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