Four-legged companions of the Whangarei police force were put through their paces at a Northland police dog trial.

Police dogs Brutus and Gus showed Northland's head dog handler, Sergeant Phil Kahotea, their tracking, searching and attack skills.

Police dog handlers Grant Egan and Pete Kinane demonstrated their dogs' abilities and Mr Kahotea scored them individually.

The three top dog handlers from Auckland and Northland will compete against 11 handlers across the country at the national trials in Trentham, Wellington.The trials are a way of keeping handlers and dogs up to date with their training, Mr Kahotea said.


"It shows us they can control the dog and work with the dog. It's like a warrant of fitness."

The dogs proved they could retrieve objects and bring them to the handlers, sit and stay for three minutes and lie down and stay for 10 minutes, enter and search a building then bark when they find a person hiding inside, track a person through bush and take down a person on command.

"They've done really well," Mr Kahotea said.

Auckland police dog handlers have not yet completed their dog trials so Mr Kahotea doesn't know whether the Northland handlers will be competing at the national event.

While at home with their handlers the dogs are taken on regular walks and interact with their handlers in their houses, but sleep in kennels outside.

Mr Kahotea said the important attributes of a good police dog handler were being fit enough to keep up with the dogs, having a love of dogs and forming a close bond with their animal.