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Categories: Training Police Service Dogs

Q. My 3-yr-old police dog had an accident after a formal retrieve exercise and has not been biting well. What do you suggest?
Hello Ed,

I have a 3 year old police dog that has been operational now for over a year. In his initial course his bite work was excellent. He hit the sleeve hard and never hesitated on any bites. Two months into the course an instructor was conducting a formal retrieve exercise with the dog and accidentally smashed him in the mouth with a wooden dumbbell. This broke a canine. The tooth could not be operated on immediately hence it died and the dog had a full root canal. After the appropriate resting time we recommenced bite work and from that day onwards we have had trouble with the dog engaging the sleeve on the first bite. Previously he would go out 40m and hit hard on a passive offender. Since the accident he generally engages softly or even not at all on passive offenders on that first bite. He needs a large amount of stimuli in close to get a good hard first bite. After that his subsequent bites are good to the point where the offender can be passive and the dog will engage. Although it happens on rare occasions we just don't get that good first bite on a passive offender. I have attributed it back to the tooth and something with the psyche of the dog. My trainers disagree and state it’s more than likely the dog picking up on my disappointment from previous exercises when he doesn’t engage the offender. He gets large amounts of praise from me when he does engage the sleeve and I always go into every exercise with a positive attitude that the dog will bite. We have kept all the bite work informal and fun for the dog and he generally wins the sleeve. This problem has been going on for 16 months and hasn’t able to be rectified. He hasn’t yet looked like biting on the road as all our offenders have been passive and the dog has not “fired up.” I have had one chance to send the dog operationally for a bite. This was from the back of the vehicle and I guided him off lead towards the offender (10 meters away) and sent him to bite. The dog went out 5 meters, veered off left and stopped dead. I had to go up to the offender and wrestle him to the ground myself. We haven’t done any training with the dog from the back of the car before.

The dog has been taken away from me by my trainer to see if the problem is me or the dog. Any ideas on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much,
Andy
South Australia

A. You are correct and your trainers lack experience and are wrong.

This dog should not be a police service dog. Do not put your life on the line behind this dog.

This has nothing to do with the tooth. My last police service dog had 4 root canals. He never had a problem fighting a human. This is a character issue and not a training issue.

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley
  
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