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United States Police Canine Association

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.

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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.

Mck-9 Academies

Debate continues over the best and most efficient means of purchasing and training a police dog team. McK-9 Academies are springing up all over America, especially since September 11, 2001, when demand for dogs in law enforcement grew at historic rates. These 2 to 4 week wonder private academies or vendors that sell a department trained? Police dogs and provide all the training a handler needs in an accelerated program, are merely an extension of our desire to have things immediately. This is McDonaldization of Society as author George Ritzer has called it. With a department investment of 2 to 4 weeks, it is promised that the handler will learn how to work this dog, train this dog, problem-solve this dog, know all the rules, laws, tactical uses AND WILL certify them as a K-9 Team. These 2-week wonder dog teams start rolling off the Henry Ford like Model T assembly lines that are produced at these McK-9 Academies. More information

K-9 Units Are Public Safety Tool That Must Be Preserved

K-9 Units Are Public Safety Tool That Must Be Preserved

As cities debate police funding in the wake of coast-to-coast protests, municipalities should take great care to protect the one public safety tool that no community can do without — highly trained police K-9 units.

Put aside the myths and inaccuracies — there is little doubt highly trained police dogs are keeping American communities safe from terrorism, crime and are doing their part to protect precious freedoms. End or underfund the K-9 police units, and every community will be less safe and less secure.

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Why We Use Points in our Certifications

Why We Use Points in our Certification

The United States Police Canine Association believes that certifications are a first step in recognizing a canine team's capabilities for actual scenario-based deployment training. The second step is to transition the team into actual deployment training that their agency provides. Those may include specific applications of canine scent or odor detection. Like most police canine training, it is a step by step approach to becoming an operational canine team. Many canine handlers do not have a certified trainer close by but still require some validation for their training. We provide that validation using points to reflect a scale of performance on each exercise. Lower scores encourage the improvement of training and ideas. Our test requires seventy percent or higher to pass. What makes our tests seem difficult is not the test itself, but the fact you must earn it, we do not lower the bar. Lowering the requirements for a canine team gives them a false impression of what they have. While the handler may know they did not pass within a few weeks, they will act like they passed and not train to improve or correct the issues. Teams failing to certify will not immediately be given a second chance. Multiple tests of the same team will not be conducted. The team must undergo a period of retraining, documenting successful performance, before any attempt at re-certification. You may question why we do not immediately retest, and it would be a good question. Our job is to evaluate a canine team. Correcting mistakes on the field will not solve the fundamental errors and may leave a more profound problem. A more permanent solution is to go home and train or retrain over some time, modifying the training to resolve the issue.

When does drug dog odor become “residual”

When does drug dog odor become “residual”?
All too often, casual use of terms or casual testimony during a motion to suppress has led police K-9 officers into this troubling area

Canine officers often testify in front of judges who have little working knowledge of how a K-9 officer performs his duties, let alone how a dog is trained to alert to drug odor. Most judges’ frame of reference about how dogs work or perform is their current or childhood pets. The lack of foundational information about subject matter that is critical to the case over which the judge is presiding is clearly one of the causes of our problem. A “Dog Training 101” course is not offered as part of the law school curriculum. Handlers are questioned by lawyers who sometimes know even less than judges. Read more

Interprets

Interprets

The word or variation of the word interprets is most often used by canine handlers in reports, training records, and testimony. They describe how they interpreted behavior changes or a final response given by the dog upon sniffing a trained odor.

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Dog issues with release of Toys

Does Your Dog Refuse to Release the Toy Reward?

Many handlers have issues with this. While it might drive you crazy, this is also what makes the dog work harder when detecting substances. To the dog, this reward is a high-value item, and to get it, they must find what they have been trained to locate. Once they get the reward, they want to possess it and not give it back. They have worked hard and want to satisfy themselves with it.

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Making a good K9 Handler or Trainer

Making a good K9 Handler or Trainer

 

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