Capstone #5 – Answering my main inquiry question.

The essay that I wrote to answer my main inquiry question was hard and essay at the same time. The hardest part was figuring out the layout of my essay. At first, I thought I should have one paragraph on the training of police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, one paragraph on the requirements of police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, one paragraph of the job of police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs and one paragraph of their similarities. Soon I found out that the paragraphs would be way to long, so I decided to have a section for police dogs, a section for service dogs, a section for therapy dogs, and a section for their similarities. Last, the senior option, shove19, suggested that I should have a section on the training of police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, a section on the requirements for police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, a section on the job for police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, and a section on the simulates between police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs.The easier part was actually writing my essay. This is because I had all my notes laid out in front of me, and my notes practically told me what to write about in the essay.

Here is my essay:

Have you ever seen a fierce looking dog, next to a policeman? Or a dog with a vest helping a lady with in a wheelchair open a door? Maybe you’ve even seen an older woman get a visit from a dog. In this essay I will be telling you about police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs. Police dogs help guide and assist policemen. Service dogs help people with disabilities perform specific tasks. Therapy dogs are dogs that are trained to provide affection and comfort. My main inquiry question is “How do police dogs, service dogs and therapy dogs compare?” To answer my question, I compared the training, the requirements and the job of police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs.



Police dogs have to be trained to do many different things. They are trained to go on obstacle courses, to fight crime, bomb sniffing, drug sniffing, and human tracking. The dogs learn different things depending on the type of police dog they will be. All police dogs have to learn obstacle courses. The first things they are trained to do after their obedience training is learning how to do simple courses, like balancing on a wooden plank. Soon they start practicing on obstacle courses. According to K-9 Obstacle Course Specifications by Jennifer Mueller, the obstacle courses include hurdles, the catwalk, board jump, A – frame, and crawl. After police dogs learn all the obstacle courses, they learn how to sniff out drugs and bombs. There are two different ways to teach a dogs how to sniff out drugs and bombs. One way is to put a drug, or some of the chemicals used in a bombs in a towel, and play tug of war with the dog. The police dog will think they are only looking for their favorite toy when they go to look for drugs or a bomb. Or the police dog handler hides a scented cloth. When the police dog finds it, the dog gets to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. That method is call the Pavlov’s method. Police dogs also learn how to track people down. In order to do this police dog is given a cloth that has the scent of the person that they are after. Have you ever wondered how the dog picks up the person’s smell? Well, tiny pieces of dry skin are falling off of you at this minute. Your dry skin leaves a trail. All the dog does is follow that trail. Lastly, some dogs are trained to catch the criminals. They do this by running after the criminals and grabbing the criminal’s arm. When training, the dog’s handler wears a cushioned, black sleeve on his arm, so that the dog will not hurt him. The dogs are usually trained to grab the arm and shake it, but some dogs are also taught to go for the legs.

Service dog training is a long process. It goes from teaching a dog not to chase birds, to a dog opening doors for their owners. Before the dogs actually start training, the dog lives with a volunteer family for four months. The dog learn how to not be distracted by distractions, such as toys, birds, other dogs, and new people. They are taught to do this by laying down on a field, and people put distractions all around the dog or dogs. People can go through and squeak toys and they can bring other dogs and people. If the dog gets up from the lay down position, the human puts them back in the lying down position. Over time, the dog will stay in the lying down position. In the beginning, service dogs also learn how to come when called at any given minute. To teach the dog to do this, the handler will take the dog to a dog park, and while the dog is playing, the handler will tell the dog to come. Service dogs also visit busy places that they could go to with someone that has a disability. They go to schools, parks, zoos, malls, movie theaters, and more public places. Similar to police dogs, service dogs learn different skills depending on what who they are going to be a service dog for. Some guide dog trainers use a blindfold while training the dog. While the dogs need the majority of the training, the people using the service dogs need training too. They need to know the commands to give the dogs. They have to learn how to take care of a dog and hold its harness. The last thing that they need to learn are the laws regarding service dogs, permitting the dogs to go in public places that normally don’t allow pets. There are also only two questions that staff can ask the handler: “Is the dog needed as a service animal and is required with a disability?” and “What specific tasks has the dog been trained to do (in service to the handler)?”  

Training a therapy dog mostly involves nurturing and training the dog’s behavior. You have to teach your dog to be social. You can do this by introducing your dog to new dogs, people, and objects. Therapy dogs are also trained to walk on a loose leash and to not nip, bite, or jump. They are also trained to let people touch them everywhere. This is because some people will pick up and touch a dog’s paws. Dogs do not like it when their paws are touched,  so they have to be trained to not act out and instead know how to stay in place while being pet. The dog additionally has to be trained to not focus on new smells, like diapers, or harmless loud noises like fireworks or walkers. This prevents the dog from turning around to try to bite it. A therapy dog should never lunge at anything, especially not their client because of their wheelchair or walker. When a dog visits someone, they are supposed to sit in front, or lay down in front of their client and allow themselves to be pet.



There are many requirements a dog has to meet in order to become a police dog. One of the first ones is that when a police dog-in-training is a puppy, they have to get their dew claw cut off. The reason it gets cut off is because when a dog is crawling through a tunnel, the dew claw could get hooked onto a rock, and it could get pulled off. The dog also has to be a certain breed in order to become a police dog, such as the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois, the Lab, the Doberman Pinscher, the blood hound and the Rottweiler. You might be wondering why your standard poodle would not make a good police dog. Well, police dogs have to be extremely smart, have a keen sense of smell, be social and friendly, be a healthy breed, and have the willingness to work. Every year, police dogs have to be tested to see if the dog is still good at it’s job.

A service can be any breed of dog, but the dog itself has to have certain traits. The dog has to be willing to work and retrieve. The service dog also cannot get distracted. Its owner has to be able to confirm the dog’s age, breed and health. The dog also has to pass the public access test before becoming a service dog. During the public access test, the handler has to bring the dog that is being tested to a public place. The dog is tested on things such as their behavior around other dogs, people, and food, getting safety in and out of the car, their reaction to loud or abnormal noises, how they behave off leash, adjusting to different speeds, turning around corners, the words “come” and “stay,” and their reaction to strangers petting them. During the test, the dogs can never be aggressive, have a desire for food or affection, or be over excited. Service dogs are not required to have any sort of certification in the United States, but it is still a good idea for service dogs to have them because many places still want confirmation that the supposed service dog is actually a service dog.

Therapy dogs also have requirements, even though their work is not as intensive as police and service dogs. An example of the requirements that are important is, therapy dogs have to know how to leave and ignore anything on the ground. This is because therapy dogs visit hospitals, and if there is medicine on the floor and the dog is not trained to leave it alone, it will probably eat it, which could be lethal. Another requirement is that the dog has to be friendly and well tempered. The dog can never bite or jump. It has to be able to remain calm when alone with a stranger. It also needs to be confident and comfortable in busy and stressful places. Therapy dogs have to love people and attention, but at the same time the dog doesn’t demand attention or get overexcited. Unlike a service dog, a therapy dog has to be tested and fully certificated. Like service dogs, the therapy dog can be any breed. To become a therapy dog there are four main steps. First the dog has to take an 8 hour therapy dog participation class. Next, the dog has to pass the ACK certification test. Third, the dog has to have a health pass from his or her vet. Lastly, to become a therapy dog, a dog has to pass a test at two different facilities by a Pet Team Evaluator.            


The Job

There are many different types of police dogs: bomb sniffing dogs, drug sniffing dogs, tracking dogs, and criminal catching dogs. Drug and bomb sniffing dogs investigate crime sites and smell out drugs and bombs. When the dog finds a bomb or drugs, it shows where the drug or bomb is with a passive or aggressive alert. A passive alert is when the dog sits or lies down next to the bomb or drugs. An aggressive alert is when the dog finds the drugs or bomb, and scratches or pounces on where it is. The aggressive alert is primarily used for drug sniffing. If a dog uses the aggressive alert with a bomb, the bomb could explode.  Tracking dogs search for criminals and lost people. Tracking dogs are primarily bloodhounds. Criminal catching dogs make capturing criminals easier for the police. Police dogs are much faster than people, so they can catch the criminal before he or she gets away. When the dog catches the criminal, he bites and shakes the criminal’s arms and legs. In an interview with detective John Peters, and his bomb sniffing dog Daisy, he told me a story of how Daisy helped arrest a man named Michael Johnson, who set a fire in a house in White Plains.

Like police dogs, there are different kinds of service dogs too, including guide dogs, hearing dogs, assistance dogs, and medical response dogs. Guide dogs help the blind. They lead people around and make sure that their owners do not fall. Guide dogs stop where there are streets, curbs, and steps. Some of their commands are “Left,” “Right,” and “Forward.” Hearing dogs help people who are deaf or have loss of hearing. They get their owner’s attention when they hear something important. The dog will then lead his or her owner to the sound. Some of those sounds can be the phone ringing or the doorbell. Hearing service dogs nudge his or her owner when the fire alarm sounds. The assistance dog helps people that need with limited mobility move easily. These dogs learn to open doors and help their owner move. These dogs also get their owners essentials like water, food, their wallet, and car keys, ande dogs also turn the light on for their owners. It should be noted that these dogs wait for commands before taking action. The last type of service dog is a medical response dog. A medical response dog helps people with diabetes or people that are at increased risk for seizures.The way that these dogs can help people with diabetes is that they can smell their owner’s blood sugar, and tell if it is too high or too low. The dogs then inform their owner, and their owner can get medical attention. Medical response dogs can also notice slight changes in the human’s motions and blood before a seizure, and tell the owner who can then getto a safe spot or seek medical attention. These dogs also carry around medication on their harnesses and can get a first aid – kit if one is nearby and needed.

There are also different types of therapy dogs, such as therapeutic visitation dogs, disaster relief dogs, facility therapy dogs, animal assisted therapy dogs, and reading therapy dogs. Therapeutic visitation dogs are pets. They go to nursing homes, schools, houses, hospital, and jails with their owners. These dogs help people with mental illness, physical illnesses, depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as those in detention and court. Disaster relief dogs help people who have been through a disaster, such as those who experienced a shooting, a hurricane,  tsunami, tornado or volcano eruption. Facility therapy dogs work and live in nursing homes. They are considered to be part of the staff. An animal assisted therapy dog works in physical rehab facilities. These dogs can help people regain limb motion and other motor skills. The last type of therapy dog is a reading therapy dog. These dogs visit public libraries, and help children that have trouble reading. These dogs help by just being there for kids while they read. Their presence gets kids more comfortable, excited, and confident to read. Some of the benefits of therapy dogs are that they can help decrease anxiety,stress, loneliness, and the occurrence of aggressive behavior. Therapy dogs can also help lower your blood pressure and heart rate. The reason for this is that when you pet a dog, hormones such as serotonin and prolactin are released, which can  elevate your mood. In my interview with Jeannie P. Gurnis, a therapy dog trainer, she told me that one of her therapy dogs visited a lady in a coma a few times and eventually brought her out of the coma!



Even though police dogs, service dogs and therapy dogs are very different, they are also similar in some ways. All these dogs go through obedience training, during which they will learn potty training, leash training, and the commands “Sit”, “Stay”, “Down”, “Heel” and “Come”. Sometimes dogs will learn extra tricks such as shaking your hand, giving a high five, jumping over poles, hopping, walking on hind legs, or crawling. Police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs also all have to take a test to become the type of dog they are. They all have to be well tempered and not aggressive. There are different types of jobs for police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs and all these types of dogs need to have certain traits, but all of them can never get off track with their task.




In conclusion, police dogs service dogs and therapy dogs are quite different in terms of training, required qualities, and types of jobs. At the same time, these dogs all share a common goal of helping others. It is amazing how police dogs, service dog and therapy dogs do so much for the greater good.


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