We only realise how quickly time flies when we are given the opportunity to see the rate at which something grows and develops. In our case, it has been seeing the four youngest members of the K9 unit become the clumsy ‘pre-teenagers’ they are now.

At five months old, these little fur balls are already working hard, following the example of their adult counterparts, and making enormous progress in their training.

Lively bunch of puppies at 5 months of age.

Solid foundations have been laid and the first steps in training have been completed. Our young champs are tracking individually with success, and they are already confident off-leash trackers, confirms Dog Master, Johan van Straaten. “Now is the time we will see them make even faster progress, and soon they will move onto tracking as a pack, following in the footsteps (or paw prints) of their parents, who are both part of the College’s Alpha Pack – our operational team of high-speed tracking dogs. Together with three other cross-breed hounds, this Alpha squad has seen many live operations through with success as their trainers continue to work with them in the field.

One of the puppies suckling in the first moments of life


Puppy showing the first signs of tracking at around 6 weeks of age


Four of the five hounds of the Alpha Team with Johan van Straaten and Tina de Flamingh on a live operation

Public interest in the free tracking dogs is growing steadily and the K9 Unit recently received a visit from dog food supplier, Champion Petfoods (Acana and Orijen dog food), and a team of selected South African veterinarians and distributors of the brand. The SAWC had a fantastic time showing the guests around the College and showing them how the dogs train in the field.

Our on-leash tracker Beagle gets the full attention after a successful demo track.


The mother of the puppies eagerly waiting to go out on a track.

“Our guests had the opportunity to join the track layers and set the trail for the dogs through thick vegetation. Once the signal was received, the dogs were released onto the trail and immediately set about following their trained noses. To show just how accurate the dogs’ tracking is and to see how the technology works to pick up each dog’s location and behaviour, our guests watched the dogs’ progress on the GPS monitor, which reads location and movement from their collars. The results were astonishing as, once again,our pack dogs finished a successful trail with incredible speed and accuracy. Within minutes, the dogs barked their announcements that they had found their target, and the GPS revealed that they had followed the track perfectly. We ended the session with another pleasing result from the K9 unit… even if only in practice this time!”

K9 trainer and handlers with the puppies (5 months old)

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