How do police dogs know when to attack and when to be non-aggressive around people?
Police dogs know when to attack because a handler gives them an appropriate command when it is time to show aggression. At all other times, the dog is trained to be non-aggressive towards people. Police dogs are carefully trained with these commands and know when they need to aggressively pursue a target and when they need to remain calm and submissive.
Dog breeds that are used as police dogs include the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd. These dogs are particularly good at following commands, being attentive, showing loyalty towards owners and handlers, and showing aggression when needed. These types of dogs are used to apprehend suspects, to create a general air of caution with suspects, and at times to sniff out bombs or illegal drugs if also trained as a drug detection dog.
There has been some discussion about police dog attacks that have happened at the wrong time or with the wrong person. It’s important to understand that a dog is not a machine, and will make mistakes from time to time. For this reason, police dogs are generally used as more of a deterrent and a commanding presence than a means to apprehend suspects, unless it is completely necessary.