Reducing Dog Shootings in Routine Police Encounters: Regulations, Policies, Practices, and Training Implications

Project Purpose/Goal

The purpose of this project is to support the efforts of the National Canine Research Council (NCRC) in developing relevant and evidence-based training scenarios for law enforcement officers. The five primary objectives of the research were to: 1) review existing scientific literature on dog shootings by law enforcement personnel; 2) establish a broad understanding of existing dog behavior training programs for law enforcement officers; 3) identify officers’ common misperceptions about dog behavior and their perceptions about the causes and contributors to dog shootings and their justification; 4) identify common misinformation in existing dog behavior training programs for law enforcement officers; and 5) enhance the development of evidence-based interactive training for law enforcement officer and agencies developed by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA).

Approach, Results and Implications

The Police Foundation conducted its review over a period of nine months and adapted its methods over that period based on a lack of scientific evidence on dogs shot by police, and instead focused on law reviews, legal issues, and media coverage, as well as scientific evidence on dog behavior, training, and related topics where there was scientific evidence. The report that was drafted in January 2019 consists of a variety of methods:  review of available information on police shootings of dogs from both a community and legal perspective, focus groups with officers and agency leaders from around the country, a field survey of existing legislation, training, and policies of those members of the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training and staff of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) divisions/commission in the states, and the review and analysis of legal issues surrounding police shootings of dogs.

Funding & Collaboration

This was funded by a Contract from the National Canine Research Council in March 2018.


A final report was published in July of 2019. View a copy of the report here.

Points of Contact

Karen L. Amendola, PhD
Chief Behavioral Scientist
National Police Foundation

Maria Valdovinos, MA (doctoral candidate)
Senior Research Associate
National Police Foundation


Dog shootings by police, police and dog encounters, use of deadly force with pet dogs