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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.

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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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