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Tactical Tracker Teams

We are only as good as our training and if our training is flawed, so too is our response in times of duress. Training must include simulated responses of armed suspects in high-risk trails. We train for the situation in every other facet of police work, why not in high-risk trailing?

A K9 handler should never be alone. When handling the dog on a trail, the handler has no real ability to defend him or herself. Handlers are not tactical assets other than as a means to locate the suspect (s). Contrary to popular belief, even when handling a patrol dog with apprehension capabilities, when the dog and handler are attached by means of a trailing lead neither are capable of reacting fast enough to counter a threat. The handler is hampered by the lead in his hand while being focused on the dog's trailing behavior, thus completely negating any possibility that he or she might draw and employ a weapon with any effectiveness. The K9 is attached to the handler, who cannot even begin to move fast enough to keep up with the dog's reaction if there is one.

The Key to reducing this disadvantage is not in equipping or training the handler in better ways but in giving the handler a cover man who becomes the eyes, ears, and gun of the handler.

Jeff Schettler - Tactical Tracker Teams

Training Theories

Whether you are a trainer or a handler, understanding dog training theory is best before working with a dog. Knowing how dogs learn, classical and operant conditioning, and reinforcement are a few essential tools for teaching and training handlers and dogs. Communication skills will improve, and a noticeable improvement in your training goals will increase.

Consider this!

Consider this...

 

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Proper Maintenance Training requires...

Proper maintenance training requires planning, preparation, and execution

Planning is deciding what your dog needs, along with training that will develop the desired result. In real Law Enforcement canine deployments, teams never know what challenges their next call for service will contain.. Every deployment will include different combinations of time of day, weather, landscape, tactical issues, actions by suspects and civilians, legal issues, distractions, packaging (Detector Dogs), and the number of things to search. Learning is a process where scenarios are deliberately presented to the team producing obstacles or distractions for the handler to solve and the dog to overcome. Progress depends on the canine team’s ability to complete the exercise.

The majority of Law Enforcement work involves the use of canines in some scent-driven tasks. Tracking, Building Search, Area Search, Evidence Recovery, Narcotics, Explosives, Arson, and Game detection are some of the ways we use the super-sensitive noses of our canine partners. Proficiency in all areas is necessary for operational readiness. Accuracy determines how fast the canine should work. Training doesn’t stop when the team becomes certified; that’s just the beginning. Functional training is the next level of achievement and is based on possible scenarios you could see at work.

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What is Fluency?

Have you ever said or heard “but he does it at the training area” when your dog fails to respond correctly in an environment that is new to him? You have just acknowledged that your dog has not yet generalized the behavior to all contexts and lacks Fluency. Fluency is when your dog knows how to search for odor or human scent, knows how to track, knows obedience, and agility, and will do that anywhere, anytime, and under any circumstances.

What is Residual Odor

Residual Odor

Several court cases I have been involved with centered around residual odor prompted me to explain what it is and how you define it. Canine handlers have used residual odor for years to identify an odor plume followed by a K9 to a source, where nothing was found. The judge wanted to know how a canine could smell something not present in one case. In the second case, an expert from the other side was testifying that it is a dead odor, and we should be training our canines to a threshold so the dog would ignore odors that are no longer there.

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Police Dog Handling

Police dog handling requires more ongoing mindfulness than any other law enforcement discipline.

With the exception of horses, all other police tools are inanimate objects. As the only law enforcement tool that continually interacts with the environment, police dogs’ behavior changes over time.  As a result, the dog’s training is never “done.” Since a canine handler and the police dog spend most of their waking hours together, the canine handler is the person solely responsible for that dog’s performance.  That is not just a matter of policy, it is a pure behavioral fact. Even in units large enough to have dedicated trainers, their span of control and administrative load mean they cannot begin to approach the degree of influence over the dog the individual handler has.

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USPCA Retired K9 Assistance Fund

Here is what the USPCA is doing!   

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K9 Matching Grant Program

The United States Police Canine Association, Inc. (USPCA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) have agreed to form an alliance. One of the benefits of this alliance is AKC Reunite, Adopt a K-9 Cop matching grant. Our association with AKC allows us to sponsor USPCA members for grants to purchase canines. For more information on how you can take advantage of this benefit check here or contact Executive Director Don Slavik

Help those that help you!

Help Police Canine Members - Engage in education, training, and certifications regarding the care, handling, and training of police dogs and other working dogs used to advance public safety. 

Make a generous donation today

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Canine Terminology

Glossary of Terms often used in Police Canine Training, Deployments, Depositions, and Court Room Situations
The document is located in Canine Resources

Building a Bond with Your K9 Partner

The day a K9 officer meets his or her partner is a day a lifelong bond is formed. It isn’t hard to under­stand why—though they’ve got a badge and a set of crucial skills, at the end of the day, K9 officers are waggly-tailed, lovable companions that just so happen to be pretty big badasses, too. It’s for all of these reasons that K9s are growing in demand in police departments in the United States and throughout the world.

 Police dogs have a long history in law en­forcement, used since the Middle Ages. To­day, these brave officers are trained in vari­ous high-stakes police jobs, from protecting their handlers to sniffing out drugs, to identi­fying explosives. Of course, these dogs are also vital in searching for missing people, with German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are among the most common breeds employed for human search applications.

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Basic School Selection

When selecting a school for initial canine training, make sure they offer everything you need for your agency. There are several options available for schools. They are, the handler goes through a course and is involved with all the training. Or you get a trained dog and attend several weeks working with the dog. It used to be all about the quality of the dog, and that is still important. Over time we have realized that handler knowledge is essential to a successful canine team. It is especially vital when your needs involve a patrol dog. The school curriculum must have enough time allotted to understand the training the dog has or will receive. Practical deployment training is also critical for the handler to see how their canine works in different contexts.

If you have questions, please contact me: [email protected]

Podcasts from K9s Talking Scents

Two Podcasts from K9s Talking Scents

Both have information that can help in your Training

Science of Working Dogs
The Great Podcast Mashup 

Go Here

How your Dog's Nose Knows so Much

 

How Your Dog's Nose Knows So Much

Basic Police Working Dog Training Academy: Things That Should be Considered Before Making Your Choice

Basic Police Working Dog Training Academy: Things That Should Be Considered Before Making Your Choice 

Traditionally, basic police working dog training courses have been offered to police and sheriff’s departments in two different ways for dual purpose dogs:

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Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

What follows in this article teaches us what causes odor and scent to remain after the source has left or has been removed. It is chemical in nature, and therefore just knowing what happens is likely all you need. I included the whole article as there some other interesting facts. The reason for this article was a recent court case where the judge wanted to know how a narcotic odor could remain after the product was removed. 

Advances in the use of odor as forensic evidence through optimizing and standardizing instruments and canines

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Canine Resources

Have you checked the Canine Resource Quick Link on the right side of this page? There you will see a snapshot of the articles we have available to a member of the USPCA. Check back, as we change the information regularly.

My dog is Bored, What is the problem

I often hear handlers say their dog is bored when displaying less than enthusiastic interest when searching. One problem humans have when training dogs are, they may not understand what a dog is doing or misinterpreted the body language. Ask yourself, is a dog bored when they do not show interest or are they bored because of many deployments without receiving any stimulus or reward? An example of a dog that is disinterested while searching a vehicle might show a dog not searching the productive areas, just walking straight ahead. The only odor they will detect is what comes across their noses. We know that available odor depends on the packaging, vapor pressure, and air movement. It is possible for a dog that is not actively searching to have a high probability of a miss.

Likewise, we know that dogs will include the environment in which they work and train. This includes understanding patterns and places where they have had success and where they never find anything. An extraordinary example of this is an area where I observed dogs that searched hundreds of vehicles a day. Once during a dog's shift, a vehicle, the same type of vehicle and the same color each time, came through the search area or parked nearby. This vehicle contained an odor, and the dog was rewarded with a successful indication. This same pattern was presented every day to the dogs. The dogs soon realized that the only vehicle that they could receive their reward was that vehicle. They showed boredom or disinterest in every other vehicle. Additionally, every vehicle that came by that was the same type as the target one often produced an indication of odor. The dogs would give a final response where there was no odor.

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How Dogs Learn



Looking at how canines learn, we include routines, patterns, body language, and should also include context-specific and generalization as part of their learning process. The introduction of context and generalization should give each of you, thoughts on how your training is delivered and changes you should make.

Context-specific suggests that when you are training, your dog not only learns the desired task but incorporates the surroundings as part of the learning. Or, you could say the dog includes the environment in which the training takes place. Generalization is the ability to take lessons learned and transfer them to a variety of scenarios. Dogs are inferior at this and often fail deployment challenges when presented with a behavior learned only in a training environment.

How do context and generalization influence and change police canine training? We should think about how we transition from one environment to the next, knowing that dogs won’t automatically transfer an established behavioral pattern to a new practical context. Handlers must have a clear idea of what a finished dog should look like during deployments before training begins. Exposing your dog to all possible environments during training will erase most generalization issues.