How To Adopt A Failed Police Dog [UK]

  • Time to Read: 6 min.

Just as not all humans are cut out to be police officers, not all dogs are suited to being police dogs. There are many reasons for police dogs not passing their police training. There is no shame in a dog not passing their training, the training is intentionally rigorous. Let’s find out how to adopt a failed police dog and give it a loving family.      

The training is designed to put a potential police dog through its paces.

They are placed into some intense situations and are expected to take on some pivotal roles, therefore, it is essential that only the best-suited dogs pass their police training.  

Those dogs that are not successful in their training may be placed up for adoption.  

Let’s go through some of the reasons a dog may fail their police training and be put up for adoption. 

What are the reasons for police dogs not passing police training?

There are a number of different reasons why a dog may fail their police training and be placed up for adoption. Let’s have a look at these in more detail below.

  • Physical Health
  • Allergies
  • Not brave enough
  • Too Friendly
  • Behavioural Issues
  • Failed to meet the required standard

Let’s have a look at these reasons in a bit more detail.

Physical Health

Just as humans do, dogs can have physical health issues which may prevent them from passing their police dog training. This could include joint issues, eyesight issues, or health issues that were not detected at birth.


Dogs can have allergies in the same way that humans do. Some allergies will make dogs unsuitable to be a police service dog.

Not brave enough

This is actually more common than you would expect. Did you know that some dogs are scared of the dark? Others are paralysed by loud noises or do not like being in large crowds (we can all empathise with that!).

However, these traits do not always make dogs suitable to be police service dogs.

Too Friendly

Who doesn’t love a friendly dog? As adorable as they are, this trait does not always make for a good service dog as they can be easily distracted. Police dogs often have very specific tasks on which they need to remain focused on.

If they are too friendly, they may soon be distracted by a pet on the head, a squeaky toy, or a tasty treat.

Behavioural Issues

Police dogs need to be able to follow commands in the same way as police officers do. If dogs are not capable of following the commands of their handler, they will not pass to become a police service dog. If this is the case, the dog may be put up for adoption.

Failed to meet the required standard

There are a number of activities and tests that a police dog and its handler will need to complete over the initial 13 week training period, followed by ongoing assessments.  

As with any assessment process, not all participants are going to pass.   

What Happens to the Dogs that Fail Police Training?

Police dogs that fail the police training may be put up for adoption by the force, or put up for adoption via a local shelter. Whilst up for adoption, they may live with a foster family.

How To Adopt A Failed Police Dog UK

Here we will take you through how to adopt a failed police dog, but, before that, things you may need to consider before deciding whether a police dog is for you.

Adopting A Failed Police Dog is Nobel but is it for you?

Adoption is always the best option when it comes to getting a pet. There will be a number of different aspects for you to consider, just the same as if you were adopting a dog from the shelter.

Things to consider when thinking about adopting a failed police dog.

  1. Dogs need exercise – this is no surprise, all dogs need exercise. However, a failed police dog will be used to doing intense training and having more or less constant stimulation. It may be that a failed police dog will have more energy, and require more walks and stimulation. This may be something that you need to factor into whether you have the time (and energy) to dedicate.
  2. You’ll have extra responsibilities – this leads on from the above, if you adopt a failed police dog, this is going to come with extra responsibilities. This may be that the dog needs more walks or staged exercises to keep them engaged. An example of this may be if the dog had previously been trained to search out for items, it will be used to doing this. It may be that you will have to stage mock ‘search’ exercises at home in order to keep the dog engaged and happy.
  3. You’ll need to cover vet bills –  as with any adoption, you will be responsible for the vet’s bills moving forward. If the dog has any pre-existing health conditions, you will be made aware of this at the point of enquiring, prior to adoption.
  4. It may not be a family pet – You will have to be aware that police dogs are not pets, they are training to do an important job. Police dogs in training will be part of a family, but normally will live outside in a kennel. If you’re intending for them to be a family lap dog from day one, you may need to readjust your expectations. As with any rescue dog, they come with a history, and it will take some time for them to adapt to you, your family, and your home environment. As with most things, some dogs will adapt quicker than others.
  5. Cost – Failed police dogs may cost more to adopt than a regular rescue. This is because they are normally from a good pedigree as well as already having a lot of time and money invested into them
  6. Limited on breeds – Dogs breeds that are suited to being police dogs will vary depending on the role they are undertaking. However, common breeds are Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Spaniels. If you are set on having a specific bread of dog, you’re probably better off waiting for a rescue dog at your local shelter.

How Long Will It Take To Adopt a Failed Police Dog?

How long is a piece of string? I know that is not helpful! How long it takes to adopt a failed police dog will depend on a number of factors.  

Some police forces will advertise when they dog for adoption.

If this is the case, you know there is a four-legged friend waiting there for you.

There will normally be a written (or online) application that you will need to fill in. These will ask about your experience with dogs, in particular working dogs, and about the home environment, the dog will potentially be going into.

These will be sifted through and suitable applicants will be invited in for a face-to-face discussion and potential meeting with the dog.

It may be then that a home visit needs to be arranged, to ensure that the home is suitable for the dog and vice versa.

It is only after this time that the dog will be signed over to you.

This process can take upwards of a month.  

Other forces will keep a waitlist of people for when a dog becomes available, this could be months or even years.

What if I don’t get on with my adopted dog?

Most forces will offer a policy whereby there is a 28 day ‘settling in’ period, if the family and the dog are not a good fit, you will be able to return the dog.


It’s not just failed police dogs that need a home…

How to Adopt a Retired Police Dog

Some forces will arrange for retired police dogs to be adopted and a similar process as described above will be followed.

Other forces will use local shelters in order to find potential homes for retired police dogs.

Failed police dogs have a lot to offer to the right family. If you’re interested, go onto the websites of your local forces and see if they advertise what their application process is. Another option is to contact the force via their social media and ask the question.

  1. My daughter and her boyfriend purchased a Belgian during lock down. They split up in January and the dog is too big and strong for her. The police took it for training in January 22. But he has failed the training. We have to pick him up tomorrow. I am in able to have him as I work full time and only have a small house. I am taking him to kennels until I can get something sorted. Please can any one advise what I can do to give him the best life.

    1. Hi, I’m really sorry to hear about your daughter and her boyfriend, I’m sure it’s a difficult time. I would contact some local shelters, they may be aware of a good foster family that he can go to. I hope you get this sorted.

  2. I grew up with a a German Shepard that didn’t make it for RAF selection. Kurt was going to be put down as it was the 80s but he made became the best family member

  3. hello really sorry to hear about you daughter and her boyfriend splinting up but if you what kennels or shelter the do has gone do i would love to potently adopt him /her

  4. i am looking for a pal, that we can share our lives together. i live alone,no other animals or children. my house is located in a quiet area. it has no public access.i hope that i receive a reply.

  5. I will take,,,only waiting to move into new house so will take about 3 weeks to 6 weeks.
    if available ease inform me & perhaps I can meet gs.
    thank you & I have previous experience with gsd

  6. I am looking for a failed German shepherd puppy to adopt.
    I live alone in Linlithgow (Scotland) and have had both a German shepherd and cocker spaniel.
    I work from home so the dog will seldom be alone.

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