On Assignment
Lifting the Lid: On the Trail with Our K-9 Dogs
We check out the training regime for SPF’s Police K-9 Unit.

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SI Bryan Khoo with Ole. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

After catching a whiff of the suspect, our canine hero broke into a run, eager to find the source of the scent. We picked up our pace to keep up with the feisty canine, only to see that he’d already found the suspect.

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Ole (left) has been in service for three years while Xion has been a trailing dog for five years. PHOTOS: Desmond Ang and Jermaine Ting

At the K-9 Unit of the Singapore Police Force (SPF), such exercises are part of the daily routine for Station Inspectors(SI) Bryan Khoo and Jeffrey Lim. To better understand their work, we shadowed them as they put their canine partners, Ole and Xion, through their paces.

A Day in the Life of a K-9
Trailing dogs of the K-9 Unit are selected based on their ability to discern specific scents and to track them. The dogs have to go through a rigorous, three-month training course before they are deemed operationally ready.

SI Khoo and SI Lim led us to the kennels. As we approached, the sound of enthusiastic barking grew louder. There we learnt that the day of a K-9 dog starts with grooming and cleaning.

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A spot of grooming to start the day. PHOTOS: Desmond Ang

The bond between officers and their dogs was apparent. Ole couldn’t contain his excitement as he was being brushed by SI Khoo, and repeatedly leaped onto him. “He’s like a small kid who’s excited to see his dad,” laughed SI Khoo, who has been with SPF for 20 years. “You can’t experience this anywhere else in the Police Force.”

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The game is afoot… PHOTO: Jermaine Ting

Things started to pick up once the training started. The exercise began when SI Khoo laying a black cloth on the ground, prompting the curious canine to sniff it. The cloth had been used by the suspect.

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Hot on the trail. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

Ole pawed the ground, eager to trace the scent. Despite their acute sense of smell, trailing dogs don’t have it easy. Due to Singapore’s humid climate, scents get diminished easily, making it difficult for the dogs to pick up scent patterns.

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Finding the suspect. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

A short distance away, the suspect lay hidden. Ole’s barks grew louder as he neared the suspect; he had found him in no time. This fast-paced exercise mirrors real-life scenarios during which trailing dogs follow scents that have been left at a crime scene. Other training exercises include following trails from 30 minutes to four hours.

A Time for Play
But it wasn’t all training for the industrious canines. “After training comes their play and reward,” shared SI Lim, who has been with SPF for 15 years. “Our dogs work hard for the ball!”

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SI Jeffrey Lim with Xion. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

Xion’s ears perked up at the sight of the tennis ball in SI Lim’s hand. With his tongue out and tail wagging, it was clear this is Xion’s favourite activity of the day.

After serving for five years, trailing dogs retire at the age of seven. To find them suitable homes, they will be put up for adoption under Project ADORE. “I’ll be really sad when Ole retires,” said SI Khoo. “But this is the nature of our job, and we’re glad that our dogs can find good homes!”



About the Police K-9 Unit
The Police K-9 Unit has dogs trained specifically for explosive detection, drug detection, guard duty and anti-crime operations. Besides supporting the Police Tactical Unit in public order operations, the dogs also assist the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, Central Narcotics Bureau and Singapore Prison Service in their operations at checkpoints, ferry terminals, airports and penal institutions.

Want to hear from Ole and Xion? :) Check out A Chat with Our Furry Crime-fighters
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Jermaine Ting
  2. 15 August 2019
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