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Categories: Questions from Police K-9 Handlers

Q. I have a few bonding questions. Am I going about things right? Any suggestions?
I actually have a few questions about the bonding phase for a newly appointed police K9 handler and the PSD. I recently picked up my PSD from the vendor and I will start handler school in two weeks. During those two weeks my PSD has been kenneled for the majority of the time. I take him out of the kennel in the morning for approximately two hours to play, bond and eat. He then goes back into the kennel until the night where he will come out again for the same thing. I don’t give commands, corrections, or discipline with my PSD. I just spend quiet time with him and allow him to gain his trust for me. He allows me to pet him whenever (to include during feeding) and even on his underside (he has already turned over on his back to allow me to massage his stomach area).

I limited his socialization to people, but I have allowed department members to see him and even pet him while being on a leash and closely monitored. I have done the same thing for my wife and other handlers.

1. What I have explained to you, can you see any problems with what I am doing during the bonding phase? My goal is not to create bad habits before training.

2. I allow the PSD to play with a Kong ball and Kong bone when I am present, is this ok?

3. The PSD tends to keep the toy until I distract him to get it way. I try not to fight with him to get the toy away, but I usually have to force the toy out of his mouth (he never shows any aggression towards me when doing so). Should I stop giving him the toy until training?

4. The PSD has been defecating in his kennel. When I take him out for that bonding time, all he wants to do is bond and play. I try to encourage and praise him when I see him go outside the kennel. Is there any recommendations?

5. My PSD is starting to show some hesitation in wanting to go back in his kennel. I usually have to grab his collar and guide him into the kennel. The PSD has no problem with going in the create or patrol unit. He actually is eager to go inside the create and unit. Once in the kennel I praise him. Any recommendation or wrong doing on my part?

I know there are a lot of questions, but if you can give me your help and guidance, your time and expertise will be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Paul

A. I don’t have a lot of time and I can’t address all of these right now. I will tell you a few things and maybe you will rethink what you are doing.

First and foremost – dogs are pack animals. Pack issues are hard wired into their system and how they live their lives.

When a new member comes into a pack – rank issues are ALWAYS settled first. Rank issues are ALWAYS settled before play. To initiate play with a dog before he accepts you as his leader is a sign of “WEAKNESS” in the pack world.

Allowing anyone near your dog is a huge huge mistake. A great way to get out of K9 in an instant. I just had a female Mal at my kennel for a month that had been taken away from a law enforcement officer after he was kicked out of K9 because he allowed people to do what YOU ARE DOING and the female bit a Sgt in the face that had bent down to pet her.

My experience is the police K9 programs don’t have a clue about pack structure. They don’t teach it and that probably because they don’t understand it. They think that correcting the SNOT out of a dog to the point of submission is “establishing leadership.” You're making mistakes here. I don’t know who is your trainer but you need to be careful.

I don’t have time to train you through emails. If you want to learn – get a few of my DVD’s. Start with Establish Pack Structure with the Family Pet. This program was developed as a result of the experience I gained over the past 30 plus years doing what your doing but with truly dangerous dogs. Dogs that would have eaten your lunch had you made the mistakes you have made with this dog.

Good luck.
  
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