THESE are the police puppies that officers bring home to live with them while they are training to sniff out drugs, cash and weapons.

PC Richie Land is full-time dog instructor at Cheshire Police and North Wales Police Alliance Armed Policing Unit.

He is looking after two of the dogs himself to help prepare them for police work from a young age.

The force is training six-month-old labrador brother and sister Bandit and Jura to become detection dogs.

Dexter – a nine-month-old sprocker – has been on the same path and is now successfully licensed and will be going to his new handler in September.

Richie currently brings back just Dexter and Jura to live with him as Bandit lives with another instructor. 

And these pups are training so they can provide officers with key help when they carry out searches across Cheshire.

“They’re very valuable, you think how long it would take a team of officers to search a house,” he said. “They could be there for half a day or the majority of the day depending on what they’re actually looking for.

“Normally a three-bedroom semi-detached house with a garden with a garage and a car, you’re looking up to about an hour-and-a-half you could be there.

“We’re qualified instructors, we know what we’re doing with the dogs and what needs to be done.

“Because we’re not committed operationally all of the time, we just deliver all of the training, it’s easier for us to develop the dogs from eight weeks old to the time that they go on a proper course with a handler.”

During the puppy programme, the dogs are judged on traits that are ideal for a sniffer dog.

“Initially, we just get the dog to play and find out what their favourite reward is and you can see that for Dexter and Bandit, the ball is their world. Jura would prefer a treat.

Richie continued: “We don’t throw them in the deep end in big, noisy environments. We build it up over a period of time and get them used to different situations.

“There’s quite a bit of a shortage in the UK of older, adult dogs so we decided to buy dogs at eight weeks old from reputable breeders that we’ve used in the past that have given us dogs.

“It’s easier for us to then shape them into what we want them to do in the future. What we put in, we get out so it’s a good result at the end.

“Not every pup that we do take on does make the grade because they’ve all got individual personalities and sometimes the dog shows that it may not have the desired qualities for operational work.”

Labradors and sprockers are the breeds often chosen.

Richie added: “We go for that type of dog because they breed dogs with the desired hunt and prey drive for looking for something and finding it.

“When we take them at eight weeks old, it enables us to put the dog into all of the environments that it is going to be expected to work in when it’s older so we don’t have any issues with the dog being frightened in the future.

“It takes time. It starts from the moment we get the dogs until the time that they are licensed.”

Richie is delighted with their progress so far, and with Dexter’s in particular. He and Richie will be put under test conditions in time to see whether he can find all the drug substances that the force hold as well as money and firearms.

He continued: “The two six-month-old ones, they are really doing well for their age. Dexter at nine months, the way he is at the moment, we can license him at nine months old but we won’t put him out working on operations until he’s about 12 months old.”

At their search house, they put substances in the building and in the car in several covered spots, ranging from half a gram to 10 grams of amphetamine and cocaine.

“I think you were quite impressed with how quickly they found the substances which have been out for about an hour,” he said.

“The dogs are valuable assets as they reduce the time that we’re in there, their noses are that good.”