National patrol dog defending champions Senior Constable Dave Robison and his dog Isaac, from Whakatane.

Three days of intense competition starts in the greater Wellington region today as the national police patrol dog and detector dog championships get under way.

Taking part are 11 police patrol dog teams; six narcotic detector dog teams (two each from police, Corrections, and Customs) and six explosive detector dog teams (two each from police, Aviation Security and for the first time, from New Zealand Army).

Inspector Todd Southall, the national coordinator of New Zealand Police Dogs, says this week’s nationals will be keenly contested.

At stake are eight titles and, for the top two police patrol dog teams and top placed police narcotic detector canine team, the chance to take on their Australasian counterparts at trials in Melbourne in October.

Whakatane’s Senior Constable Dave Robison and Isaac are defending their national championship title in the patrol dog category. They’re up against three teams from Auckland, two from Wellington, two from Christchurch, and one each from Hamilton, Whanganui and Hawke’s Bay.

“There’s experienced handlers in all three categories. Consistency and confidence between handler and dog will determine who gets the points and a title,” says Inspector Southall.

The tasks and disciplines set are based on what the canine teams encounter in their day to day working environment. Patrol dog teams are facing challenging tracks, obedience, heelwork, criminal work and buildings searches in the Hutt Valley and southern Wairarapa. Narcotic and explosives detector dogs are similarly challenged to find drugs and explosives, and to clear buildings. Most of their work will be in the Hutt Valley or Wellington areas.

Competition wraps up on Wednesday afternoon with prize giving at the Police Dog Training Centre in Trentham

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