New dogs, old (and valued) tricks

HMP Lowdham Grange has recently welcomed a set of new recruits and they can certainly smell an opportunity.

The young recruits are puppies Kenya, Loui and Leo and they’re being trained to become drug detection dogs.

The prison has always employed a team of drug detection dogs, who play an invaluable role in sniffing out contraband that people attempt to smuggle into the prison. Psychoactive substances (PS) such as the synthetic cannabinoid “spice” are a constant problem within the prison system and can cause immense harm to prisoners and staff. The effects of PS on prisoners can range widely and can include feelings of anxiety and paranoia, nausea and even death in some cases. Due to the behavioural effects of PS such as “spice”, it can immensely damage a prisoner’s efforts of rehabilitation and can therefore increase a prisoner’s chances of reoffending after prison. That is why it is crucial for these substances to be detected and confiscated as soon as possible.

The new trio of puppies are being trained to succeed the previous generation of drug detection dogs, with some of them nearing or in the process of retiring after years of valuable service.

Let’s look at the trio:


One of the newest and youngest recruits, Kenya is 11 weeks old sproker who will be trained to become a proactive search dog. A proactive dog works as part of the team but will search independently off the lead, tasked by verbal and visual stimulus to search target areas under guidance from the handler. 

Kenya has some big shoes to fill from the previous search dogs.


Loui is a springador and has been specially bred using a Labrador and a Springer Spaniel. Loui is being trained to become the prison’s next passive search dog.  Passive dogs are generally worked on the lead to facilitate more intimate searches, for example on people or queues of people, vehicles or where it is safer or more prudent to have more control. To be less intimidating about the reason for the search, these dogs generally have a passive indication only, which is normally a sit or a stare freeze.

Loui is set to replace passive search dog, Bobbie, who had been big part and had many arrests over her eight years service at Lowdham Grange. 


Leo is a 12 weeks old cocker spaniel and has a proud heritage with both his parents being working dogs. Leo is training to be a specialist search dog.