We are always keen to hear from people who would be able to assist with the development of our puppies and become a puppy fosterer.
However, before rushing into becoming one, we would ask you to consider the implications of the role which requires a huge amount of time, dedication, commitment and patience.
What skills does a young dog need?
A young dog coming through our Puppy Development Programme needs to be well-balanced and clear headed. As a police dog it will need to have an all-round ability to perform a number of tasks. We want our young dogs to have the following skills:
- To be happy in all places and environmentally sound
- To have a desire to interact with a toy
- To be ambivalent towards other dogs
- To have an ability to problem solve
What does a puppy fosterer do?
The main role of a puppy fosterer is to assist in the overall development of our potential police dogs.
The puppies are matched with you from the age of 6-8 weeks old and will remain in your care until the dog has reached around 12 months old.
Although a volunteer role, becoming a puppy fosterer is hugely time consuming and impacts on the whole family. This is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year experience, though of course you are allowed to have breaks and holidays while caring for the puppies!
During the period in which puppies are with you, they need to be exposed to as many different people, places, surfaces and experiences as possible.
It is essential that all puppies are confident and comfortable in any kind of situation it may find itself in as an operational police dog. Therefore, a puppy fosterer must expose it to things like train stations, dark rooms, places with odd floor surfaces and different types of stair cases.
As well as taking the puppy to as many places as possible, it is also a necessity for them to have a huge desire to play with a toy and wanting to interact with people.
Ideally, a puppy fosterer will hand over a young dog who is well balanced, social, and confident, as well as having a huge desire to play with a toy.
It is a hugely challenging but extremely rewarding role.
If the role of a puppy fosterer appeals to you, you must be able to answer "yes" to all of the following:
- Do you have experience or a very keen interest in training dogs?
- Are you and your family able to live with a large, strong and energetic young dog for around 12 months?
- Do you have access to a suitable vehicle for safe transportation of the dog?
- Do you have a suitable home environment to allow a large dog crate to be housed?
- Are you able to provide a fully fenced (6 foot fences) and a secure garden area for the dog?
- Are you able to attend regular training sessions with the dog?
- Do you have plenty of spare time to introduce the dog to as many new environments and experiences as possible?
- Are you at home to ensure that the dog is not left for more than 3-4 hours at any time, other than overnight? It is vital that puppies are supervised at all times during the day.
West Midlands Police has a large variety of different breeds working as operational police dogs. The Puppy Development Programme is no different and we have a mix of different breeds within it.
We don't exclusively look for one particular breed, as we are more interested and focused on the characteristics of the puppies. We aim to breed puppies who are energetic, bold, confident, enthusiastic and very playful.
The type of puppies we breed are not pet dogs. They are energetic, lively, strong and grow very quickly.
They need lots of attention and plenty of structured stimulation to keep them out of mischief. They will not be lap dogs and sleep all day.
The puppies we bring into the Puppy Development Programme are canine athletes.
Puppy Development Programme
We have a structured Puppy Development Programme for all of our puppies, which a puppy fosterer is expected and supported to follow.
From the moment the puppies are born they all receive high levels of stimulation and desensitisation to help build solid foundations.
When placed with you, the puppies will continue on their journey to becoming operational police dogs. Throughout the time they are in your care, there is a structured development plan for them to work along.
You are expected to bring their puppies to regular training sessions, which are held during the day. During the first 6 weeks of having the animal, we run weekly sessions.
During these sessions, we will provide instruction and demonstrate various exercises in order to help you manage your puppy on a day to day basis. These exercises include general obedience, loose lead walking, tracking games and searching games.
In addition to the regular training sessions, the puppies will be brought into the Dog Training Centre and kept in kennels for a number of days, to undergo more formal training under our supervision. These sessions allows them to start to become acclimatised to the kennel environment and also gives you a little break!
As the puppies progress through the programme, they all undergo a number of formal assessments at different developmental stages of their life to ensure that they are progressing to become police dogs.
As previously mentioned, being a puppy fosterer is a time consuming role and one which requires a huge amount of dedication. Under our close supervision and guidance however, you’ll receive the highest levels of support and guidance to help make developing our future police dogs a fun experience.
When taking on a puppy, all basic costs are taken care of by West Midlands Police. All of the following are provided to you:
- Veterinary treatment
- Training equipment
- Poo bags
- Vet/Flea/Worming treatment
The only cost to a puppy fosterer is their time.
There are a number of stages to complete before becoming registered as a puppy fosterer.
- Ensure you meet all of the necessary Essential Criteria
- Email us to confirm your interest & to provide your basic application details
- If successful, you will be invited to an information session, where you will see a range of dogs at different ages and learn more about the requirements of being a puppy fosterer.
- If you are still interested, a home check will be arranged to ensure your home and garden is safe, secure and suitable to house one of our puppies
- Providing you pass the stages above, you will then be required to pass a basic level of security/vetting check.
- Once all stages have been completed successfully, you will be added into the Puppy Foster Group & join our waiting list for puppies.
- When a litter of puppies has been born, we contact people on the list and arrange for you to attend a number of pre puppy allocation sessions.
- Once you are fully prepared, puppies are usually allocated at around 8 weeks of age.
- During the first 4-6 weeks of having your puppy, you will be expected to attend weekly training sessions with the animal.
If you haven't been put off continuing your interest in the role as a puppy fosterer and would like to start your application process, please email us.