Thames Valley and Hampshire Police are looking for volunteers to help train up the police dogs of the future.

The puppy socialisers will look after the pups, who are all purebred German Shepherds, at home between the ages of about eight weeks and 18 months.

They will need to socialise their puppy, exercise them and introduce them to new situations – so that they are ready to embark on their police dog training.

The forces, which jointly run the dogs section under the Joint Operations Unit (JOU), are looking to recruit both full-time and part-time puppy socialisers.

Anyone who is interested can attend an information and training session in Sulhamstead next month.

Dog trainer Paul Whitty, from the JOU dog section, said: “This is a great opportunity for a person or a family to support the development of an operational police dog who we hope will one day go on to help catch criminals.

“What is expected of puppy socialisers is that they bring the puppy up within their house as a normal dog, they introduce them to as many different environments and experiences as possible, and they attend the monthly training days that we provide.

“But this is not an easy task because these puppies are not normal pet dogs. They are keen, excited and highly driven. They are not the type of dog that is happy to lie down all day – they are going to need regular exercise and interaction with the whole family.”

He added: “One of the main things we are looking for is people who are flexible, who can take on a puppy for maybe a couple of weeks once or twice a year to, for example, allow another puppy socialiser to go on holiday.”

Puppy socialisers will be assisted by a JOU dog trainer, who will be on hand to help with any problems, and all expenses will be met by the police.

You do not need to have puppy socialising experience or have owned a dog in the past to apply, but you will need to go through the Force’s volunteer vetting process and will have your home checked to make sure it is suitable for raising a dog.

The JOU is looking for anyone living within Thames Valley or Hampshire to apply, but puppy socialisers will need to visit Sulhamstead Training Centre once a month.

Anyone who will have to leave their puppy alone for more than four hours in a day will not be accepted.

The JOU will hold two information sessions – one in the afternoon and one in the evening – at the Force Training Centre in Sulhamstead in May.

The two-hour sessions will include an introduction to puppy walking, a chance to meet current puppy walkers and a chance to meet some of the Force’s current puppies.

If you are interested in this role, please contact. puppydevelopment@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk. The JOU will then respond with the date and times of the information sessions.