|01/||How To Housebreak A Puppy or Older Dog|
|02/||The Problem with All-Positive Training|
|03/||My Dog is Dog Aggressive|
|04/||How to Fit a Prong Collar|
|05/||Introducing a New Dog into a Home with Other Dogs|
The answers on this page are my opinions. While they are certainly controversial they are not meant to offend people who take a different position. Over the years I have learned that two people can take a different approach to dog training and both be successful.
I try and answer every question I receive on dog training. I may often come across as a little on the blunt side, (some may call it brash). That is because I consider myself an advocate for dogs and not dog handlers. I am an advocate for common sense dog training and not the latest fad that appears on the horizon. Good dog training is not rocket science. It's common sense.
- How close is the
scent of pseudo drugs to that of narcotics?
- Can you tell me where to buy and how
to store my pseudo drugs?
- After reading the warning labels
that came with my pseudo, should I be concerned about handling pseudo
- Do you have an opinion on the
best type of response, (passive or aggressive), to use in narcotic detection?
- How do you explain a false positive
hit by your dog in court?
- What is your opinion on using pseudo
narcotics in training drug dogs?
- What is your position on this puppy
narcotics training program being promoted by the Texas Police Canine
- How can I increase the scratch
indication on my drug dog?
- I don't reward my dog on a real
search unless the drugs are found. I am concerned about rewarding my
dog for a false indication. What's your opinion?
- My narcotics dog has a problem,
it is cueing off me during my training. I have a problem finding people
to make my finds - what should I do?
- If I want my narcotics dog to indicate
on gun powder in addition to drugs, do I teach a different indication
for guns than drugs?
- I work as a correctional officer
with a dog. My 3 year old Lab-mix has started to show signs of being
nervous about going into cells. What can I do?
- Is there a test for my litter of
8 week old puppies that would tell me which ones can be drug dogs?
- My dog does a great job on scratch
boxes in my back yard, but will not work them when I take him to K-9
training. What can I do?
- How do we cause our K9 to alert with
more intense excitement on drugs?
- I am a Deputy Sheriff who loves English Bull Dog.
I want to train one be a narcotics dog. Can this be done?
- I am a new K9 handler. I have been told that I should
not train my dog on meth because its too hard on the dogs nose. Is
- Is there some type of law that protects K-9 officers/handlers
from liability if the dog does some type of damage to a vehicle during
- My drug dog is not showing a lot of interest in the
drug find, When I hide a clean drug toy (without the drugs) he hits
it hard. What can I do?
- My drug dog has developed a problem with false hits
on door seams. What can I do? This dog has found a lot of drugs. This
problem just started.
- Do you think it is possible to train my Schnauzer to
be a drug dog?
- Our department's 3 year old Malinois will stop a search
if he finds a plastic bottle. Do you have any thoughts?
- My friend's Mal won't release her reward when she finds
narcotics. Do you have any suggestions?
- I have a problem with my dual purpose K9 switching from
detection to aggression when there are people in the search area. What
can I do?
- My dog becomes very distracted. How can I fix this?
- I'm having trouble odor tracking with my lab? Any advise?
- I want to train my lab to be a drug dog for our department. Can you suggest which of your videos would be best to use, along with how do I know when I can start training her for searches?
How close is the scent of pseudo-drugs, to that of real narcotics?
Pseudo drugs do not smell like real drugs to humans. They have a distinct smell but this smell is not like that of the real drug.
I cannot comment on a how a dog smells and compares pseudo. I can say this: every dog that is trained on pseudo will always hit on the real drugs. I have heard of dogs that will hit on real drugs that do not hit on pseudo. I have not personally seen this.
I am not a fan of using pseudo drugs after the first couple of weeks of imprinting the drug scent in training. Pseudo drugs are not narcotic. They are therefore not illegal to have. How can a K9 Officer that regularly trains with pseudo testify that his dog only hits on illegal substances? Where does the probable cause go? I would not want to be the officer that has to justify this in court.
Can you tell me where to buy and how to store my pseudo drugs?
Pseudo drugs can be purchased from:
3050 Spruce Street
St. Louis, MO 63103
At this time they have the following scents available:
- At this time they do not have a meth scent for sale.
They have restrictions on who they will sell to. You can learn about these at the time of the order.
All pseudo should be kept according to the directions on the label. Some are kept in the freezer, some are recommended for the fridge. If a bottle has not been opened the shelf life is a year. Once opened (even if the top is screwed down tight each time it is taken off) the shelf life drops to 6 months.
When a handler is going to train he should take the amount of pseudo he is going to use for that day from the bottle. Once its out of the freezer or fridge the pseudo has a 24 to 48 hour shelf life. After 24 hours 75% of the scent has evaporated. Sigma will tell you that each pseudo drug has a distinct smell to humans, and you should be able to judge if it still good from its smell. A point to mention is that the pseudo drugs do not smell like the real drugs to people - only to dogs.
I have watched your video Training Narcotic Detection Dogs and note that you use Pseudo narcotics in your training.
I have purchased Pseudo for use by myself, but there were so many warnings and restrictions enclosed with it that I haven't dared use it! Warnings include instructions to wear rubber gloves and face masks when handling the powder. In total there are about eight pages of hazardous chemical warnings included in the packaging. However, I saw in your film that the handlers were touching the powder barehanded and sprinkling it on training aids in such a way that the dogs had direct contact with it. Do you have a guide to using Pseudo, and if so, could you please let me have a copy so that I can make best use of it? Are there any dangers attached to using Pseudo? At the moment it is still in its packaging because I dare not touch the stuff! I have found your video to be most informative, and has given me some very good ideas to follow up.
First I need to remind you that I am not a fan of using pseudo. The only place there is a use for it is in the first stages of training. Once the dog is recognizing scent the pseudo is no longer used (not ever again).
There is no guide to handle pseudo.
As far as the warning labels on the pseudo, I am sure that this is a legal issue for the manufacturer and their legal staff. In my humble opinion this is all bunk. The majority of the material used is an inert substance. The little amount that you will be handling it and using it does not create any kind of danger. If it makes you feel better to use gloves then by all means do it. I do not. But then again I have not handled it in years because both of my drug dogs are trained. I will be training a new one this fall so I guess I will have to use it for a couple of weeks.
Do you have an opinion on the best type of response (passive or aggressive) to use in narcotic detection?
I prefer an aggressive response with a drug dog. I think it allows for a few more handler errors, it also allows the handler to work his dog in higher drive. An aggressive response will also usually result in the dog making an indication closer to the actual hiding spot.
Now having said this my current narcotics dog is a passive indicator. He has so much drive and is so into his work that he would rip the dash boards out of cars. The choice was to turn him into a passive dog or not use him.
When a department is concerned about scratched cars or damage from a high drive dog a passive indication is better than no drug dog. So in my opinion there is a place for both passive and aggressive dogs. It will come down to your dog and your department.
How do you explain a false positive hit by your dog in court?
I am sure there are other good answers by other k-9 handlers. But the way I approach this subject is that the only place we can be 100% sure a dog is giving us a false indication is in training. We need to assume that the location we select for our drug training does not and has not had drugs in that location in the recent past.
There is no certain way that anyone can be 100% positive that a dog is giving a false indication during a real search on the street. Just because drugs are not found does not mean that they are not there. I have seen too many clever places to hide drugs for me to doubt my dog when she says that she has the odor of narcotics and I can't find any. I have heard of studies done where narcotics were hidden in a location and then removed. Dogs were then able to smell the odor of narcotics in that location for 48 to 72 hours after these drugs have been moved. So do we consider an indication by a dog under these circumstances to be a negative indication. I don't think so.
My answer to all K-9 handlers is to have the first page of their training manual and records contain this statement: THE GOAL OF ALL NARCOTICS TRAINING IS TO ELIMINATE FALSE INDICATION.
When we stop and think about it, if a dog misses drugs and does not indicate, the drugs go on down the road. This certainly is not an ideal situation but at least we have not violated anyones civil right. But if a dog's training does not concentrate on false hits, and that dog does indicate where there are no narcotics. Then we are violating the rights of the citizens involved.
So in reality the primary goal of all drug dog training must be to eliminate false hits, with the secondary goal being to find narcotics. If that simple principle is followed no drug dog handler is going to make a mistake.
What is your position on using pseudo narcotics in training drug dogs?
Pseudo narcotics are non-narcotic. They are not illegal to own. That is a primary fact that everyone in drug dog training needs to remember.
With this in mind, there is only one place for the use of pseudo narcotics in dog training. Thats during the initial few weeks of scent association where the dogs come into contact with the drugs on their toys or in a sand lot where they dig up toys with a small amount of pseudo sprinkled on the ground over the buried toy.
Once this period is past and the dog is moved on to real drugs, pseudo should not be used again.
If a K-9 officer uses pseudo throughout the dogs career, it is only a matter of time in court before he is going to be asked "Does your dog indicate on anything other than narcotics?" The answer to that question would be "YES." If the next question was "Then when your dog indicated on the vehicle on the interstate, how did you know whether the vehicle contained narcotics or a substance that smelled like narcotic?" That can be a difficult question to answer.
Of course the answer could be "My dog only indicates on the odor of narcotics. There are other substances that have the same odor as the narcotics. These substances are used to train narcotic detection dogs." The courts would then have to rule on the facts of the case and set a precedent for future narcotics dog training.
There are other facts in this issue that I do not care to go into on a web site that is open to the public. Too many defense lawyers float the web and I can't see helping them anymore than I have to.
What is your position on this puppy narcotics training program being promoted in Texas by the Texas Police Canine Association?
There are two ways to look at this puppy training program. One from the dogs standpoint and the second from a legal standpoint. First I will explain what the program is (as I know it).
There is a man in Texas (named Bill Grimmer - he is a Canadian citizen) that does contract work for the Tarrant County Police Academy. This is a state funded school that certifies police officers. Mr. Grimmer has helped design a program (which I have been told is funded by a grant from the Governors Drug Task force) to run a training program where they give 8 week old puppies to new police K-9 officer. These officers come in for several weeks of training to learn how to imprint the smell of narcotics on their puppies. They begin with marijuana. After a couple of weeks they take their puppy home and do their own training.
After a few months of home training these puppies are brought back and certified as narcotics detection dogs. The main organization certifying the pups is the Texas Police K-9 Association, (but Mr. Grimmer told me that they will certify a dog to any standard as long as there is not an age requirement because they like to certify puppies). Mr. Grimmer indicated that they also certify dogs under the NNDDA and USPCA standard, but the Texas K-9 is their main organization that is used for certification. I recently got an e-mail from one of these handlers who indicated that he certified his 14 week old puppy in marijuana by the Texas Police K-9 Association. This individual was a strong believer in this program.
I take an opposite position. On one hand I believe strongly in early puppy training. I have produced a training video titled Bite Training Puppies. This tape shows how to imprint bite work on 8 week old puppies. What it does not do is try and tell you that at 14 weeks of age you will have a certified patrol dog.
I do not believe that a 14, 16 or 20 week old puppy should be certified as a working street narcotics dog. Granted the people who have gone through this program can put up some big numbers on drugs and cash they have seized. My response to this would be "Tell me the other part of the story." The fact is their puppies can find drugs in training and even sometimes on the street during real searches. I will not argue that fact. But if the puppies are only partially trained (which I feel these puppies are) then this program is seriously flawed. All puppies deal with the stress differently than adult dogs. No one needs to be an animal psychologist to understand this fact. Training regimented search patterns is stressful to a dog. Teaching proofing exercises is also stressful to a dog. Expecting a puppy to deal with the pressures related to normal pattern training and distraction training in narcotics work is foolish.
Expecting a puppy to deal with the stress of normal daily training, search warrants and vehicle searches that an adult narcotics detection dog is expected to go through is crazy. They simply can not do it at the same level as a fully trained adult dog. Therefore it is my contention that it is impossible to have a fully trained narcotics detection dog that is only 14 weeks of age.
Every professional with any common sense will tell you that a dog must have a certain degree of maturity before it is able to properly deal with the stress of advanced training. All dog training is similar in this respect. Dogs go through 3 distinct phases in a training program.
- First they are taught a basic command or exercise motivationally (either for a toy or a piece of food or praise).
- Once the dog knows and understands the exercise he is exposed to the "correction phase of training." This is where the dog is corrected when he refuses to perform a command that we know he already knows.
- The final phase of training is "the proofing phase" where the dog is exposed to higher and higher levels of distractions and corrected for not performing the command.
Narcotics training is no different than obedience training or protection training. Puppies can be taught the basic skills during the early imprinting and motivational stages of training. But they need to be more mature to deal with the correction phase or the distraction phase. If a dog is certified to go on the street as a puppy, before it has gone through proper training it can not and should not be called a certified narcotics detection dog.
I offer a different example of this concept by comparing it to bite work. We can teach a puppy the skills of bite work during early prey drive work, but we can not expect that same puppy to be a true protection dog until it is mature enough to deal with the stress of defensive work. I would also offer the comparison of teaching an 8 year old boy to shoot a "BB" gun. We would not expect that same child to defend his home against adult intruders. So just because we can teach a puppy to identify the odor of a narcotic does not mean that same puppy can handle the stress involved in the rest of the work.
If this Texas program started puppies at 8 weeks of age and continued the motivational training throughout the first year of the dogs life and then when that dog started to mature, introduced it to search pattern, distractions and proofing at 12 or 13 months of age, they could have some of the best drug dogs in the country. But as it stands now, that's not how it works. They are certifying a 14 week old puppy as a working street dog and to me this is just plain foolish. My personal feeling is that Marcus Cook (the President of the Texas Police Dog Association) is more concerned with his image and his organization than he is with the program.
Then there is also the legal issue to this matter. If I train a drug dog, that dog needs to have excellent training and it must be accompanied by detailed training records. These records need to reflect the number of finds the dog has made, the number of finds the dog has missed, the number of false indications the dog has made in training and how that dog works under distractions and proofing exercises. If a dog is too immature to deal with searches under distraction (and proofing) then that dog is only partially trained. If a dog can be shown to be only partially trained how can that dog be used as "probable cause" in a search and seizure situation? The answer is "They can't be used for probable cause." They may rise to the level of "reasonable suspicion," but not "probable cause." Reasonable suspicion does not legally get you into a vehicle to search it.
I would say that these puppies could be used to search for drugs in a warrant or vehicle as long as the puppies indication was only used to find dope and not used to get the warrant or as "probable cause" to enter the vehicle to perform the search.
If a puppies indication was used to obtain a search warrant or his indication was used to develop "probable cause," then the people involved in the searches by these puppies could possibly have civil rights violations. In addition the departments that the dog handlers work for may have a liability problem due to negligent training and supervision. There could be a case made that any reasonable supervisor should have been aware of the fact that a puppy does not have the ability to be certified to a level of being used in probable cause situations. This could lead to some very serious litigation against the departments.
So the legal concern here is the fact that some criminal cases could be lost (and that would be a shame), but in addition peoples civil rights may be violated (that s wrong) and departments may be exposing themselves to un-necessary legal encounters all over trying to rush the training of a puppy by 4 to 8 months. It just doesn't make sense in the long run.
The people that run this program will always point at the alleged success of this program in seizures. My point would be that if the foundation is wrong, then the entire program is at risk of coming apart at the seams some day. In legal terms it comes under the fruit of the poison tree concept. I think there is a black cloud on the horizon for the people associated with this Texas K-9 Association program. This program has the potential of giving all k-9 drug dog handlers a black eye as a result.
I had one e-mail from a member stating that this Texas K-9 Association justifies the certification of puppies as drug dogs because it is funded by a grant from the Governors drug task force. My question would be "how much does the Governor even know about dog training and what is going on with this program?" Secondly, just because the Governors office funds this program does not mean that the program is positive, viable, or successfully meets its objectives. After all if the FBI lab can be found wanting, who says the puppy program funded by the Texas Governors office can't be poorly led.
I asked Mr. Grimmer to respond to this article. If there were things that I stated that were not correct I asked to be notified. He responded by e-mail stating the following point:
- The program will accept puppies from 8 week to 9 months of age.
- They are not allowed to return for certification until they have been home training for 8 weeks (minimum)
- He stated that even though the puppies are certified at 14, 16 or 20 weeks MANY DOGS ARE STILL DEVELOPMENTAL, HOWEVER WITH CONTINUED TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE THEY BECOME FASTER, MORE ACCURATE AND THEREFORE BETTER DETECTOR DOGS THAN DOGS THAT BEGIN LATER IN LIFE.
- All animal psychologists will tell you the younger you begin training the better the results.
- He states that there is no physical stress involved in drug training that it is all a game.
- In my article I state that it is impossible to have a fully trained 14 week old narcotic detection dog. Mr. Grimmer's response was AGREED BUT WE DO NOT HAVE A FULLY TRAINED DOG, RATHER A YOUNG ONE WITH A BETTER BASE IN TRAINING THAT CAN AND DOES DETECT THE PRESENCE OF DRUG.
- He did not feel that comparing prey drive and defensive drive was a fair comparison. he wanted me to compare drug work to police tracking. He stated YOUNG DOGS CAN PASS TD, TDX, AND SCHUTZHUND I TRACKS AS WELL AS SIMPLE POLICE TRACKS.
- He stated that Marcus Cook has nothing to do with the program, except that he has seen the results and the dogs working and is impressed.
- His comment on the potential for a departmental law suit for improper training is there for adult dogs as well as with a puppy program.
- He indicated that dogs that have come from this program and been on the street for 5 years are still making busts and finding dope and have never been involved with litigation.
His response has not answered any on my concerns. In fact he has only confirmed many of my points.
- How can a dog be certified and have the program director agreeing that the dog is not fully trained. Obviously Mr. Grimmer has not been exposed to many trial lawyers that understand drug dog training. If he made the statement on the stand that "A dog is not fully trained but it has a good base for training" and the indication on that dog was used to obtain a search warrant. I will guarantee you that any good judge is going to toss the warrant and any contraband that was found as a result of that warrant.
- Mr. Grimmer is wrong if he feels that there is no physical stress to a working narcotic detection dog. When that dog is worked in an environment that it does not feel comfortable in (like a home with a few pit bulls that would like to eat it) this is stress. When a dog is worked on the interstate on a hot summer day with traffic flying by, this dog feels stress. When the dog is exposed to cutting agents and masking smells and corrected off of these smells it feels stress.
I would advise Mr. Grimmer not to make this statement on the wittiness stand if he has to testify in front of a good lawyer.
- As far as Mr. Cook is concerned, he is involved with this program if he knows what the program is all about and he is the president of the main agency that certifies these dogs. Mr. Cook does not have his head in the sand (or maybe he does). One of 2 things is happening here. He truly does not have the training experience to know what is going on or, he is turning a blind eye to a serious potential problem.
I wonder what Mr. Cook would say if some drug dealing scum that killed a cop got released because of faulty training on a dog that his organization certified.
- His comments on departmental law suits indicated a very clear under estimation of the real liability risks that this program is placing on departments that use these puppies to obtain search warrant s or where the puppies are used under the Carol Doctorine to search vehicles. Let a department lose a civil rights case as a result of this and then see where the lawyers go for money. This will open peoples eyes.
- I would say that the dogs that have been on the street for 5 years are probably now pretty good drug dogs. It was never my contention that this program could not be a great program. If these dogs were not certified until they were adults, then this would probably be the best drug training program in the country. But that is not what is happening and as a result it has the potential of giving every drug dog handler in the country a black eye in court.
Since this article was originally written, the puppy program was canceled by the Tarrant County Jr. College. If you would like to read more on this issue, I have written an update that you may find interesting. In addition, Marcus Cook seems to be under siege by members of his organization. They found out that when he organized the Texas K-9 Association, he did not set up a democratic system for electing officers. He appointed himself "President for Life." The members just found this out at their annual training seminar (which Cook did not attend).
My dog is doing well with the introduction of (drugs pseudo). He knows the scent and what to do but his scratching could be more intense. Is this because he is just starting training? It seems like he will scratch then he stops and waits for me to open the box, knowing he is getting his reward. How can I get him to scratch better?
There are many possible answers to this question.
The first thing I would want to look at is the drive of the dog. Dogs that have not been properly selection tested are not going to do well on indications. Dogs with good drive will always do better. I tell people that a properly selection tested dog will cover for an inexperienced trainer. Dogs with weaker drives need better trainers.
If a dog is looking to the handler for a "primary find" (one where the reward item is hidden with the drugs) he has not been rewarded properly by the handler in the past. In early training the handler has either made the dog scratch too long or he has not made the game fun enough.
Drug dogs are always rewarded for the intensity of the indication. It makes no difference if that intensity is only 3 or 4 scratches as long as they are a burst of energy. If the handler waits too long and misses his opportunity for a reward he has created a problem. There are things he can do to help:
- He can tie the reward into the area of "the find". This can be accomplished by using string tied to the towel so the dog has to tear and pull the find out of the hiding place.
- The toy can have a fish line tied to the towel. When the dog indicates and the handler opens the find the toy can be popped out of the find and come alive. This increases the dogs intensity to chase and find its prey item.
- It's important to remember that drug finds need to follow the HARD FIND- EASY INDICATION and EASY FIND-HARD INDICATION rule. This basically means that if the find is an easy find we expect a very active strong indication. If the find is difficult we do not expect the same kind of an indication. (Use easy indications when the dog is getting tired in real searches.)
- The handler can build the drive for the scratch by standing behind the dog and enthusiastically encourage the dog to "GET YOUR GIFT" as he pops the dog on the side. The handler can grab his dog around the front of the chest and pull him back a couple of feet (away from the find) as he encourages the dog to GET HIS GIFT. This builds frustration and frustration builds drive.
I have a question about rewarding dogs on an actual search. I know some handlers who will give a the dog the toy when the dog alerts on a vehicle in a real search. The toy is given at the time of the alert before any drugs have been found.
I personally do not do this. I am afraid of rewarding the dog for an alert that might not be right and reinforcing an improper behavior. Part of me says trust the dog and the other part says don't reward what you don't know In training I often will give my dog a simple good boy and a pat on the side rather than the toy so he does not know for sure when he alerts that he toy will appear.
The same handlers who do the reward also carry a loaded (drug odor in or on) the toy. This is also something that I do not do. My thinking is that if I am going to have the "wind currents" working for me. How can a toy with a load of dope in my back pocket make things easier for the dog?
What are your thoughts?
You are 100% wrong in your approach to this training.
If your training is correct your dog will not false indicate. Once a dog is trained to the odor of narcotics, all of his training should be on proofing. That's how you learn to trust your dog. If you do not properly reward your dog (which you are not doing) you will end up with a half trained dog who does not do very good drug work.
There is nothing wrong with carrying a loaded dummy in training, but it should not be done in normal street work. The bottom line is most finds in training should be primary finds, that's how super drug dogs are made.
I am a drug dog handler in South Carolina. I am having a problem with my dog cueing off of me to let him know where the drugs are. I know I can solve this by getting someone to hide the drugs for me but most of the time I can't get anyone to help me. Is it better for me to hold off on training until I can have someone hide the drugs for me or continue to hide the drugs myself and work the dog everyday. Any advise on this would be greatly appreciated, Thanks.
The bottom line is that you don't have a problem with the dog keying off you, you have a problem with indications. Keying off you is a symptom of the problem.
I would concentrate on building stronger indications through scratch box work. I guess I would work on this a couple of days per week, then do some off leash finds, the dog runs free in a room and then have a day or two where you talk someone into helping you.
It surprises me that it would be hard for a police officer to find someone to hide drugs.
Is it advisable to train an aggressive alert on narcs and a passive alert on gun power? How do I handle the idea of searching school lockers knowing there may be gun power etc. When I train on narcs I give a narc command and do not accept any other hit. How should I introduce guns and gun powder, etc.?
This has to be done with two dogs. It is either one way or the other.
If you train your narcotic dog on guns or bombs then it should not be used in searches for anything other than schools (or similar areas). If you did have a dog to indicate on drugs and guns then you could not use that dog as probable cause to get a search warrant to enter a vehicle. It's not illegal for a person to keep a gun or gun powder in the trunk of a car or even in a gun case in the back of the car - and you cannot train your dog to know the difference between a school locker and a vehicle.
My K-9 is a Lab-X, 3 years old and has been working drugs for approximately two years. Since I work for the Department of Corrections, our searches include a lot of cells and open bay type dormitories. My dog recently has been showing signs of being afraid and timid upon entering these dormitories, appearing to be more concerned with the sounds and movements around him than the actual search of the buildings. Do you have any suggestions or training ideas to help me with this problem. Anything on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Back the training up and work scratch boxes with him. Put the scratch boxes just outside the cells then in the cells. Do a ton of drive building exercises in the cells.
You may also want to have him checked medically. See if he has worms, take his temp (it should be 101 degrees). Have a vet go over him to rule everything out.
To be totally honest if a dog had correct nerves and correct drive it would never do this. If he is medically OK and still does this get another dog.
I own fila brasileiros and need to know a test to give them to see if they can make dope dogs. I have a litter of 10 pups 8 weeks old and wonder if they can be tested at that young age. Please advise on information or video for testing purposes. I know they can track not all but some and need the test to give and at what age. I thank you for your time.
All I can offer is the different puppy tests on my web site - they are very good. But there is no test and I do not believe that there can be a test that can identify a drug dog at 8 weeks of age - there is too much that goes into raising a dog that brings out the prey drive in a dog. Too many things can effect a dogs temperament and drive during the first year of life that would result in a nice dog being screwed up. So this issue is not as simple as you would like it to be.
Dogs are born with a genetic level of drive. But the dogs don't naturally display this level of drive without training. I just finished a new training video titled Building Drive, Focus and Grip. This video explains how dogs can be brought up to the genetic level of prey drive.
Again I need your advice. I am training my GSD to detect narcotics. He's kept in a kennel in my fenced back yard. He works great on a scratch box and has alerted on marijuana. He has a very high ball drive.
Problem is that his ball drive seems to disappear outside the back fenced yard. When I take him to K-9 training he isn't interested in playing with his ball. If I put his scratch box on the parking lot where we're training he will about tear the box open scratching and biting at it. But after he gets the ball if I throw it he doesn't appear interested. When I bring him in the house he'll tear up the house playing with his ball.
I tried posted his in the front yard to tease him with the ball. It didn't seem to get his attention.
What am I doing wrong or what can I do to help?
He is trained in criminal apprehension and will do bite work in every environment I've put him in.
It is hard to guess about a dog through a short email.
If I did feel that the dog had the drive and the issue was a training problem then I would work on drive building in different locations - I would use the Flinks method to do this. I show you exactly what to do in my tape BUILDING DRIVE FOCIUS AND GRIP.
Once I could work a dog in drive in every location then I would add the drug work in different locations. I would do it with 3 to 5 scratch boxes and I would keep it simple. Then move slowly into vehicles and other locations. You can always try this by trying to work a dog in drive (with the ball on a string) before you try the scratch box work. If he will not work in drive in a location then you will not get him to work drugs on boxes in that location.
My question is how do we cause our k9 to alert with more intense excitement on drugs, he alerts but with a ho-hum attitude. I would like to see him fired up! During his find. I don't mind if he scratches a vehicle, It is ours by then anyway. Sonny, our K9 is very sharp but I would like to see him with more drive on alert. Thank you in advance.
A hard question without knowing the dog. There are a lot of possibilities:
- The dog may have poor drive and should not have been selected as a candidate for this work. Nothing you do is going to make a low drive dog into a high drive dog.
- The indication is built in the basics – not on the street. You need to take a look at the maintenance training to see what the training records indicate (if they are honest and well kept – if they don’t reflect a problem then you have an issue with the handler and his reports).
- The foundation of a detector dog is based on scratch boxes. If a dog cannot make a good indication in training on a scratch box he will never do a good indication on the street. If your training does not include scratch boxes then your maintenance training is flawed.
- If the dog does well in training on the box – then have the handler take a box with him on every vehicle search. I had a good friend that I trained with when I was a handler who dropped a box on the side of the road and let the dog hit it before EVERY search. He had a hell of a drug dog.
Not sure where you live but I would send your handler to one of Kevin Sheldahl's seminars.
I am a deputy. We have two drug dogs already, (Chocolate Lab), (German Shepherd).
I am an English Bulldog Nut..... Nut is the right word. I am going to purchase my own English Bulldog not the American Pit bull and would like to know if this breed would work well as a Narcotics Trained Dog or do you have information on what type of training this breed is best suited for when it comes to police work.
If this breed is an asset to the Sheriffs Department can you tell me who to contact for his training?
I will be paying part of the cost myself for the training and would like to stay close to home...
If this particular breed is useless for Police Work then I guess I will just have an expensive pet.
Thanks for your time,
Don't waste your money or time. It is impossible to train a bull dog to be a drug dog. It cannot be done. The day Santa Claus flies in from the North Pole you may be able to find an American Bull Dog to do good drug work. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
I was told that you should not train a dog on meth very often because it would burn its nose. Does this caution hold any weight? If so, how often should I work with that scent? Also, I am a new K-9 handler training the pioneer for my department. My Chief is applying for a DEA permit. Once we receive the permit where do you suggest I get the narcotics to train with? Our city is very small we don't see a lot of cocaine, heroin, etc. I do however have all the meth I need.
There is nothing wrong with using meth on a regular basis in your training - just keep the quantities small and not put the dog into small areas (i.e. the inside of a car) with large quantities of meth. That could be hard on his nose, but small quantities will not hurt. I assume you know to be 110% sure the dog never comes in contact with the drug.
Once you have your DEA license you can order drugs from Sigma labs in St. Louis or contact the DEA and ask them. They have a form (I believe it's a form 222) that you fill out when you get drugs from another agency.
I wrote to you a while ago asking permission to use some of your web site info for a term paper for school ( which by the way I got a B on. So, thank you). My reason for writing you today is, I work for the Oneida Police Department in Wisconsin and our K-9 officer is trying to research if there is any K-9 case law with regards to: Property damage that sometimes occurs when a dog "alerts" on a vehicle ..for example..the dog scratches on the exterior of a vehicle and causes scratches in the paint. Is there any case law or some type of law that protects K-9 officers/handlers from liability if the dog does some type of damage to a vehicle during a search?
Speaking as someone whose dog has done this - if he did not find drugs then his department needs to pay for the repairs. This is not a legal issue. You cannot scratch someone's car that does not have drugs in it. So it is not a case law issue.
I am a out of K9 school for just over 1 year. My dog is a German Shepherd patrol/narc dog. I am having a problem with him alerting, scratching AFTER he locates the narcotics. I am reading him to the point where I know when he locates it. After he locates it, he walks away from it and shows little or no interest in scratching so I do not give him his reward which is a towel.
I've heard that putting the towel (reward) in with the find will increase his scratch? What do you think of this practice?
I'm not too sure of it because we tried a little experiment. I hid just the towel that was clean, no odor at all fresh out of the hot water wash with no detergent and the dog located the towel and scratched real hard.
Please give me your input.
Your problem is not that uncommon. It is an indication of a training problem.
You need to do more primary finds. A primary find is where the reward is hidden with the narcotic. It can help by making the towel jump out of the find like a rabbit - have a fish line on the towel and if possible have someone other than you jerk the fish line when you tell him to - or when you reach down and expose the towel.
To stop the dog from indicating on the towel you need to neutralize the dog to towels.
Have one clean towel hidden about 6 feet from the actual drug find (which also has a towel). This allows you to correct the dog off a clean towel and have a situation where he goes directly into a real find. It becomes very clear what's right and what's wrong.
A dog should be able to do a drug search with towels laying everywhere. He should be able to search when towels are in plain view - correct the dog if he tries to go to the towel. If you correct too hard the dog will shut down. Many dogs only require a "NO - FIND IT" with a pop on the line. The key to the correction is to find the level that the dog will leave the towel and go back to searching. Too hard of a correction on a soft dog will shut the dog down.
In normal training hide clean towels around the room and correct the dog off the towel that does not have any drugs.
The important thing here is to make sure your towels are clean. If you hide your finds you need to walk around the room and touch a lot of articles. Put your scent everywhere. Its always best to have someone else hide the dope.
Hi, first of all, I would like to thank you for a fabulous web site!!!!!!!!! My question to you is this. I have a 2 year old G/S that is working great on dope. The problem I have is this, The dog knows the scents and indicates very well. I walk him around a lot of vehicles and he finds lots of dope.
Lately, When taking him around vehicles, he will automatically go to indicate on the door seams. It is getting to the point that I think he is just looking for the reward. I plan on ordering a few of your videos and if possible, can you give me any pointers that I may look at to resolve this.
Its time to backup your training to scratch boxes. Lay out 15 of them and work the odors. Then go to your junk yards and work blank cars where you can correct the dog (how hard depends on the temperament of the dog). I would just keep it to a verbal "PHOOIE" and a little tug on the lead and keep moving. Hide dope in other areas of the car (bumper, wheel, under the car - but nothing near a seam).
Then have friends let you do a traffic stop and run the dog - have blank finds - then have finds where the dope is on other places outside the car.
You need to document this in your training records. Your records cannot reflect a perfect dog. You add to your credibility by showing a problem and then showing how you corrected the problem.
My name is Brian and I am a Deputy at a Sherrif's office in Texas. I am currently assigned to the jail division, but hope to train my schnauzer to be a narcotics dog. I have yet to use the scents but have trained him to look for his toy and wait for me to throw it patiently.
I am thinking about purchasing some pseudo-scents of course as I don't know how my department feels about this yet. A lot of people look at me like I'm crazy for working with my Schnauzer. Please write me back and tell me if you think a Miniature Schnauzer would be a good drug dog or if I should go with another breed.
Any dog can be trained if they have good nerves and extreme prey drive.
I recommend that you take a minute and register for my web discussion board. You can then direct your questions to my web board. It has over 6,500 registered members. There are some talented people on my board.
You will need to register before you can post questions but you can still read the board and its EXTENSIVE archives without registering. To search the archives – first pick a forum on the left side of the web board. Click on it and you will go to the next page. On that second page – if you look at the top right you will see a drop down box that has “SHOW TOPICS FROM THE LAST 45 DAYS.” Click the drop down box and select “SHOW ALL TOPICS” This will provide you access to every thread on the forum since the board was created.
If you have a problem with this I have created a web page to explain how to search the archives.
The registration process can take a couple of days to get approved. We make people use their real name on the board – not a pseudo name. This eliminates perverts and pukes from posting obscene information on our board. In my opinion this is one of the reasons my web board is so good because there is accountability for peoples posts when they have to have their name associated with their post.
My department has a 3 year old malinois who has a problem with plastic bottles. He indicates very well on narcotics until he sees a bottle. When we go to do outside training with other departments we purposely place bottles in the training area. He has no problems with the bottles during these trainings, but when at work if he finds a bottle the search is over…
Any help thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.
Your handler is not training enough.
It takes 30 times to teach an exercise and over 100 sessions (or more) to fix a problem.
If it were my dog I would use low level stimulation with a remote trainer in a narcotic training scenario to desensitize the dog to the bottle. I would do it in all environments until the dog ignores the bottle.
With this said here is how your handler will screw this up:
1- Not condition the dog to the collar correctly
2- Not select the correct level of stimulation and go to high
3- Do the remote collar training during narcotic training and send the dog into avoidance and end his narcotic career.
4- Back the narcotic training up to scratch boxes after the remote collar training.
The handler should study the DVD I did on remote collars.
He should also be doing “DRIVE WORK” throughout the time of remote collar training (but I would not do it during the actual collar sessions). The DVD is called Building Drive and Focus.
There are plenty of pitfalls in this process. Most K9 handlers are HANDLERS and not TRAINERS. No insult meant here but it’s a simple fact.
I work on a k-9 team with the department of corrections and have a question you might can help me with. My partner has a female Mal that will not release her reward when she finds narcotics. He has tried several different things to her pain is not an factor. Any suggestions?
I could write a chapter in a book on this.
Fact is this is an indication of a relationship problem with the dog and handler. 100% of the time when this happens it’s a respect issue and bad handling. The handler has not gained this dog's respect. You are correct when you say pain is not a factor – fairness is. The dog does not believe the handler is fair in how he handles the rewards so she does not give it up.
If I were his supervisor I would make this handler run his dog through the work in my DVD about Building Drive and Focus. In fact I would not allow him to work his dog on the street unless he could demonstrate this work. Do not misunderstand me here, this dog very well does not have a drive problem – but the DVD teaches respect between the handler and dog and vice versa.
I have written on the OUT in my Q&A on police dog training – you may want to visit my comments there too.
My name is Earl. I have the dept's newest K9. He is a 2 year old GSD. He is dual purpose and for the most part has did very well on the street. I have had success with his tracking abilities. He has only attempted 1 track and it was successful in apprehending a armed robbery suspect. I have also had good success with building search. He has also located someone in a building. He is very obedient to me and I have no control issues with him.
The problem that i have is with Narc work. My dog has o problems with odors. He knows marijuana, heroin, cocaine and meth. If I have someone place drugs in a room or locker room, he has no problems locating the drugs.
When I hide drugs at night when I work in a car, he has no problems finding the drugs. The problem that i am having is when I scan a vehicle that has or has recently had people in the car. 2 things, if he sees someone in the car, he will immediately switch from drug mode to aggressive mode. My dog is extremely aggressive, which in my town isn't really a bad thing. The second things is I'm not sure if he is getting the odors mixed up or if he is alerting on people in the car. It is driving me nuts.
I have tried scanning nothing but blank cars. We had a taxi inspection for the upcoming summer season. We had 15 brand new cars set up in the front lot awaiting inspection, so I went out and scanned each of those cars 5 times each. After scanning the series of cars I would have a drug placed somewhere in one of the vehicle. My dog would alert every single time on the drug and didn't false alert on any other car.
I would then place someone in a car and the dog would once again go from drug to aggressive. I correct him verbally and I have also now begun correcting him with the lead. I'm at a lose and I don't know what else to do.
Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.
Earl - this is not a detection problem it's an indication problem.
There are several things you can do:
1- Keep a scratch box in your squad and have the dog hit the scratch box before each drug search. This will tell him "HEY STUPID THIS IS A DRUG SEARCH."
2- Tie the dog to your squad and stimulate the dog with the toy and let him see you hide it on the vehicle which has people in it. Then take him right to the "FIND." Then big play games when he gives even a small indication.
If he will not indicate - take him back and repeat on the same "find." Take him right back to the find. Remember this is not drug search training it's "indication training."
3-Set up training where there is an EASY outside find (not inside the car) and people in the vehicle - use the scratch box and correct the dog with a leash correction for being aggressive.
If you have to take the dog right to the find and be ready to do a primary reward.
4- Repeat this EXACT SAME FIND over and over again.
5- Gradually make the finds closer and closer to the passenger doors.
When your done training - leave the scene. Don't get the dog out to be re stimulated.
I have an narcotic detection dog that been on the force for about 5 months now. I have noticed when I am doing a search with her and there are other people around she becomes distracted. Its almost like she has not confidence.
Also I noticed in doing a school parking lot, she gets distracted on different wheels were I believe other animals have left there mark. She was fixed when I first got her from the kennel. What can I do to fix this?
Thanks for you time
There are a number of things that could be going on here:
- The dog would not pass a decent selection test for a narcotics dog. Without knowing and seeing that has to be considered.
- The training is not right
- I don’t know your skill or your dog so I cant answer this. It sounds like questions that should be asked to the kennel you got the dog from
Hi Ed! Just found your "forum" and can't wait to be registered. As I am not sure how long that takes, I have a training challenge and looking for some thoughts.
I have a canine team in week 14 of a 16 week course. The dog is a Labrador Retriever, 2 years of age, male. The dog tracks great, does protection well and article searches well. The dog is rewarded at the end of tracks with either a bite or Kong. Article searches are for a Kong. I introduced our wildlife/gunpowder detection training in week 10, hiding Kong balls scented with odor in scratch boxes. The dog works on a light line with a nylon collar, not directed at first, but now into directed searching. The dog would dig, flipping the lid and getting the Kong. I then went to hiding the Kong out in bush areas, always odor scented (shells inside Kong), dog digging fine. In the second week of this, I put only the shells out, under tree bark, brush etc. The dog recognized the odor, went directly to it, whined, but would not indicate and was willing to leave the scent. I felt the Kong smell may be too strong, so went to putting shells in a cotton sack, hiding it under wooden pallets so that the dog could smell it, see it and hopefully dig it out. I had some success, but not a dramatic improvement. I saw your "fish line and board on the scratch box idea, which I intend to use in future training. What I see now is a dog that will article search in the open with enthusiasm, will track with enthusiasm and will play/search for his Kong at the end of each exercise. The exception is detection, there seems to be some conflict in the dog. The dog will go flat in minutes. He will find the odor, whine, maybe scratch once, and leave the odor if the handler moves away. There is no happy tail wagging, active searching by the dog. When the dog does indicate, and the Kong is thrown in, he may or may not pick it up right away. He may go back then and dig at the odor, or may pick up the Kong if the handler picks it back up and throws it in again. I have tried a towel scented with odor and no improvement. This is the first time I have experienced this with what seems to be a ball crazy dog! This dog did a two kilometer track in an industrial area today, high temperature and humidity, unknown to the handler, with two solid bites at the end. Pulled hard and did an excellent job. I put a set of keys and my pistol mag out in the grass nearby after the dog had rested and we let him just go out on his own on the same command normally used for article searching and detection. He indicated both items and played ball! Why won't he do it for the detection odors? I hate the thought of washing this dog out after almost four months of training. The other dog on the course is doing great in all aspects of the training and I have this handler starting to work with this dog in the event that this lab does not come around.
To begin I will say that there is always the possibility that this dog may not be good enough to do detector work. Without knowing the dog I could never make that determination.
I will tell you that in 45 years of owning, breeding and training dogs I have never seen a Lab that can do protection work. They can be trained to do great prey drive tugging (even on a sleeve) but I have never seen one that can work in fight drive. Playing tug is a very strong motivator for the dog though.
If this dog indeed would pass an accurate selection test, it does sound like there is a possibility that you created this problem. You should have eliminated the Kong under the scratch boxes before moving on. I do think the fish line and making the scented sterile town jump from under the box will help (before you do this you need to introduce the dog to tug with the towel away from your training area – so the dog recognizes the towel as a toy when he sees it).
It is my belief that the dogs should not be moved off of scratch boxes until they are 100% solid on the odors that they are expected to indicate on without a toy with the odor.
When they do that then the scratch boxes need to be moved to varying areas of distraction. We need to see if he will indicate the odor on the scratch box under distraction (the toy may have to be added in for the first 2 or 3 indications but it is quickly removes).
I used to flop a scratch box down on the side of the interstate or in the front yard of a search warrant and put odor under it for a positive hit – before I actually did the search. This got the dog in the “FIND DRUG” mode.
With this said I also proofed my dog. It would have to search environments loaded with sterile toys. It was very clear to the dog that he could only touch the toy when I allowed it and that only happen after a correct indication.
I don’t know if I answered your question here.
With all this said, I don’t like Kongs, I don’t use Kongs and I don’t sell Kongs.
I am looking to get your input and suggestions, I have a female black Lab that is 12 weeks old. I am working with her daily on basic obedience and want to train her to be a drug dog for our department. Can you suggest which of your videos would be best to use, along with how do I know when I can start training her for searches?
I would recommend that you get the DVD titled “HOW TO RAISE A WORKING PUPPY.” If you go to the link you will be able to read the description of the chapters in the DVD. We have bred over 350 litters of working puppies in the past 30 years and I have been breeding and competing in dog sports at a national level for 20 years. There are differences in the way you raise a puppy as strictly a pet, instead of a working dog. This DVD helps you set the foundation to train your puppy for a career, whether it be competitive obedience, protection, agility, Schutzhund or Search & Rescue.
We also have a question and answer section on Narcotics dogs.
This should give you a good start.
I am a green K9 handler and I was recently matched with a green bomb/patrol dog. He is a wonderful dog and we are beginning to become a good team. I have seen great improvement through obedience alone. But being so new at this I am experiencing some difficulties.
#1 – The dog’s reward is a Kong. When we are playing around with the reward at the house he is really good at giving me the los when I ask for it with no problems. He will even drop it in my lap when he wants to play. However, after finding explosive odor during training and he receives his reward he does not want to give me the los. I have to give him a really good correction with the leash to get it, along with verbal correction. I really want to get to the point where he gives it to me as easily during training as he does while playing. How do I accomplish this?
#2 – The dog wants to go to source so badly during detection work that he nudges the hide area almost violently. I am afraid that this might get us dead in the field. How do I get him to alert without him violently nudging the hide location?
Whatever info you may be able to provide would be great. Thanks.
I know exactly what the problems are – the problem is I could write have a book on the solution and I don’t have the time.
First – I know a lot of handlers use KONGS - the fact is for many its exactly the wrong reward item to use. The problem with Kongs is that dogs can self satisfy into them. You should be training with a tug – a tug that you cut the handles off. You need to be able to immobilize the toy so the dog can take no satisfaction from it when you hold it still – you can’t do that with a Kong because it’s too difficult to grab when a dog has it in his mouth. If you have as Kong on a string it’s even worse.
The fact is the heart of detector work is a “game of tug” – for the dog finding the odor is simply a small step on the way to the game. When handlers don’t have the rules of the game properly established problems develop. That’s what’s going on with you.
The rules are:
- Play with video (you have that)
- Out when asked to out (you don’t have that)
- Bring the toy back when you release it (you don’t have that)
If your dog doesn’t OUT then you have to get heavy handed with the dog and that effects your relationship. Don’t kid yourself if you think it doesn’t.
If you don’t have these three things you need to go back to basics. The solution to your problem is to learn how to play tug with your dog. Teach the dog these rules and do it motivationally. I have a 5 ½ hour DVD titled THE POWER OF PLAYING TUG WITH YOUR DOG. Get is and do the work in it. There is 1 ½ hours of just training the OUT. (see why I can’t put all that in an email – it’s just too much).
The correct way to train a passive indication is to start by teaching the dog to scratch as the odor. When the dog understands that work then you just drop a sit command before the reward. With reps the dogs get it. At that step of training the goal is a lot of reps and not a lot of searching. The emphasis is on the indication and not the search – so there needs to be many many very short searches where the dog is asked to sit right at the moment of the find.
But of course if you have problems with the OUT – then that’s pretty difficult to do. You get one rep and then you have a fight with your dog at a time when you want to keep his drive high.
If you really want to become a good dog trainer you will study marker training – become an expert on it. This can start by reading the free 85 page eBook I wrote on my web site. Study the work in my food DVD and the tug DVD – then use it in your training.