Training Police Service Dogs Q&A
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- Can a dual purpose
police service dog stay in the house at night, live as a house dog,
play with the family and then go to work and function efficiently?
- I have a 4 month old pup that is
being raised for a patrol dog. Can you advise which books and tapes
- I am about to receive my new patrol
dog, (an import), can you offer advise on how to bond with this dog?
- Can you explain the main role of
the helper or agitator in the protection phase of police service work?
- I recently attended another agencys
training session. The helper was beating the dog off the sleeve with
a stick when it was dirty. I dont think the helper should clean
up the dog in protection work. Can you give me your opinion on this?
- Can you define fight drive
- When you buy a police dog is it better
to buy a puppy or buy a dog that is it already trained?
- I was wondering if you could tell me
were I could get some info on the required training hours a narcotics
dog should have and a patrol dog?
- Our dogs are locked in prey. When
we hit them with the stick they will not stop focusing on the sleeve
that is laying on the ground. What should we do?
- I have a Dutch Shepherd that
is great in protection work & muzzle fighting, but when training
is done he becomes passive and seem like a pet. I want him to bark
people approach my vehicle. What can I do?
- We have a new patrol dog candidate. It has some
serious issues with slick floors. What can we do?
- I have a 1 year old bloodhound that we are training
to be a police service dog...?
- I have been a K9 handler for three years. I am not retired
and want to get into Schutzhund. Our department will no longer use
Schutzhund dogs and the local clubs want to train with food. My dogs
love a ball and I have some concerns about training with food. What
are your thoughts?
- Just wondering about your thoughts on a dual purpose
police service dog having a handler change after being in service for
approximately 2 years. 4 year old shepard. What steps would you recommend
to make it a successful transition?
- I am wondering if the 5 week old pup you have for sale
can do detector work?
- I have a 9 month old female that is in training for
a police service dog. It recently hit a wall when it developed serious
problems with slippery floors. What can we do?
- My service dog will not engage the helper in muzzle
- My husband will be getting a new police K9 soon. We
already have a dog, so what do we need to do when the new dog comes
into the family?
- Is it unrealistic to expect a police service dog to
be operational at 11-13 months?
- I have 3 problems with our police K9. 1) He will only
do a partial building search before returning to his handler. 2) He
will out clean and immediately return to the handler without watching
the threat. 3) He has become possessive of the cruiser. Any advise
will be appreciated.
- My police K9 will not take the bite on the street. In
training he never hesitates. My department says to keep working him
and he will eventually bite. What do you think?
- My 3 year old Mal bites solid, but does not like to
OUT. When he does out, he goes into a rear guard and bark. Last night
he did this and bit the agitator. Do you have any suggestions?
- My wife and I are both police dog handlers in England.
My question is would I be able to do helper work with her to assist
in his training?
- I am being considered for a police K9 handler position.
I am concerned about the safety of my two small children. Do you have
- My 3 year old Mal is sensitive to the E-Collar. What can I do?
- I have a problem with my k9 that I cannot solve. He cries all of the time in the car, how can I get him to stop?
- What do you expect from a good (working) puppy to show you before you treat him as a mature dog and not as a puppy?
- I have plans on becoming a trainer and want to become a k9 officer. Can you tell me if "hanging" is a common practice in Schutzhund and training police and military k9s. How is it that hanging a dog and beating him "forces" him to respect you?
- I have a 3 year old police dog. 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. Ever sense, he has not been biting as well. What do you suggest?
- I am a police K-9 handler and am taking my first vacation with my family for six days and I am leaving my dog in the care of another police K-9 handler whom I work with and my dog as a lot of positive interaction with. Do you having concerns or advise for me or the other handler taking care of my dog?
Can a dual purpose police service dog stay in the house at night, live as a house dog, play with the family and then go to work and function efficiently?
The answer to this question is pure and simple: "NO!!!!" Assuming that a dog is properly selection tested and properly trained as a police service dog, this is absolutely a bad idea and here is why:
- Police dogs are not pets, they are tools for law enforcement. Their job is to perform at the highest level of proficiency when on duty. The life of their handler may require this. Any dog that is a family pet is going to enjoy being a pet far more than working as a police dog. When this happens, the police work suffers. So when a police service dog is off duty, he should be resting in his kennel so he is 100% ready for his next shift.
- There is nothing wrong with a police dog knowing the family and being around the family when it is under the supervision of the handler. From that standpoint the dog can come under the fold of the family pack setting. But under no circumstances should a police service dog be put in a position where it is expected to take orders from the officer's children or spouse.
- Police Officers would never allow their family members to take control of their service weapon, the same holds true for their police dog. If this happens the officer is courting disaster. There is too much of a risk of the dog biting a family member or guest when unsupervised by the handler.
- New handlers are always better police officers than dog trainers. This is a simple fact of life and not meant as a critical statement. Many handlers have never owned a working dog, many have never owned any dog before. These men and women are then given a high drive adult dog and sent through 6 or 8 weeks of basic training. As such, they often do not have the experience to deal with new police dogs interacting with their family and friends. They incorrectly assume that because their dog tolerates and minds them, they will also get along with their family, friends and neighbors, not so!
- I even believe that every police department should have a policy that their service dogs should be put in a professional boarding kennel when the officer is on vacation. To allow family friends to feed and clean up after the police dog is too high of a risk for any department to take
It's important that everyone who is shaking their head at this advice understand that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of police dogs working the street in this country that have no business being there. These are dog's that lack hunt and fight drive. These dogs would never stand ground and protect their handlers. I recently answered a question in an email from police handler who has been assigned a WHITE GERMAN SHEPHERD. I will guarantee you that there is no white german shepherd anywhere that has the drives to be a patrol dog. This also goes for departments that are mistakenly using American bloodline German Shepherds as patrol dogs.
Departments that continue to use poorly selected dogs which are unqualified for this work can let their dogs be house dogs, they may as well be pets, they are no good for anything else.
I would like to know if you could give me advice on what book or video that you may have to help me with my 4 month old German/Czech Shepherd. He will be trained for Patrol and some narcotics and until he is of age for this advanced training, I would like to learn more about the training and advance training of a patrol dog.
Thank you for you assistance.
There is no book that I can recommend but there are a ton of videos. I can give some recommendations and then your budget will determine what you get. I would start by reading the training articles on my web site. There is a lot of sound information in these articles that doesn't cost anything.
Start with the tape titled Bite Training Puppies. This video is designed for pups that are 8 weeks old to about 6 months old. While your pup is 1/2 way through the age period there is a lot of information in this video you will have to know and understand about the complicated task of training a patrol dog.
If you have never raised a pup you may want to consider Your Puppy 8 Weeks to 8 Months. At 6 months look at the Basic Obedience tape and the tape titled The First Steps of Bite Training. When the pup gets to about 10 months old, he will be ready to start some serious tracking training, (although I start my pups much younger and make a game out of it). Get the video titled Training Police Tracking Dogs. This tape should go with Track Laying for Police Service Dogs.
You need to cover your basics way before you get into the advanced work. If you jump too far ahead of yourself in training you will screw yourself and never have a dog that will develop properly. The biggest mistake I see new handlers make is "lose patience" with a pup that is growing up. They get ahead of themselves in training.
The real serious stuff does not start until the pup starts to reach maturity. This will vary from dog to dog (or I should say pedigree to pedigree), but usually between 14 and 24 months of age. At that point you can look into my more advanced training tapes.
Hope this helps.
This week I will receive my police service dog. He is a 2 year old import, he is not a fire pisser nor is he a doormat. A nice balance defines the personality of this dog. My question is, how do I best aqua in him to his new home. Which includes a 11 month old puppy and a house cat. I want the dog to have as little situational stress as possible so that we can get on the path to bonding as a team. Any insights or ideas would be helpful.
The first thing you need to do it determine if this dog is a dog fighter and if it has a dominant temperament.
Introducing a new dog needs to be done with a dog crate or better yet an outside dog kennel. But it doesn't sound like you have that.
Your 11 month old pup needs to be kept away from this dog for some time until you know the temperament of you new dog - your new dog can easily attack and hurt or kill these other animals. I never allow newcomers to be near the other animals until I am 100% sure they get along. This is where a crate comes in. When the time comes to allow the new dog around the younger one, I always do it with a muzzle. This is going to tell you if it will attack the pup.
If it does act aggressive towards your other pets, I suggest you read the article on my web site about Dealing with the Dominant Dog.
As far as your bond goes - that's done with food and long walks and personal time grooming and playing. Your biggest concern needs to be this new dog hurting the existing animals.
Can you explain the main role of the helper or agitator in the protection phase of police service work?
Once a dog reaches the point where it has gone through bite development and has been accepted as a candidate for police service dog training, the role of the helper changes. In bite development the helper is the motor behind the prey item (rag, puppy tug, sleeve and body bite suit). But when a dog is being prepared for the street it must change its view of the helper from buddy to "FIGHTING PARTNER." This means that the helper is now someone to be careful of. He is someone who can hurt you, and even though the dog possesses the skills to defeat the helper he must still be careful in how he approaches the fight.
A properly trained police service dog does not approach a helper like a schutzhund dog. He does not set up 1 foot in front of the helper and bark at him. Rather he stands back away from the helper 5 to 10 feet and barks at him. If the helper try's to fight or flee the dog then attacks. Sport dog people who don't have enough experience will watch a service dog run up on a helper and with his hair up a little on the back stand 10 feet away and bark. They will say that this is a sign of weak nerves. They are 100% wrong - this is the sign of a well trained dog that is prepared for a fight. The hair up tells us that the dog is taking this encounter very seriously. He is not looking at the helper as a prey item but rather as someone who can hurt him.
I recently attended another agencys training session, the helper was beating the dog off the sleeve with a stick when it was dirty. I don't think the helper should clean up the dog in protection work. Can you give me your opinion on this?
There is an issue here that needs to be understood. First, the dog needs to understand that the helper is someone to be careful of. The helper is someone that can hurt you. This is where police dog training and Schutzhund training differ. Many Schutzhund trainers don't understand this issue. A dog needs to be very careful of helpers. He needs to respect them without fearing them. To make a dog understand this, the dog is going to have to take a certain degree of punishment in the form of stick hits or whatever. He needs to learn to win the battles but he needs to learn that there are ground rules that need to be followed before he can win. The comment goes with the previous question.
When a dog gets dirty and breaks through and bites the helper when he is not supposed to there is nothing wrong with the helper trying to use the stick to get the dog to back off and bark. But if the dog will not release the bite after a few hits then the helper needs to freeze and stop the fight. The handler needs to physically take the dog off the sleeve and repeat the exercise in a manner that allows the dog to be controlled. If this means a long line or electric collar then that s what has happen. When the dog comes in and bites it wants a fight, it needs to learn that the only fight its going to get is when the helper attacks or try's to flee. This is where the helper lets the sleeve go dead and removes the fight from the process. Most tough dogs prefer the fight.
If the training is done properly this does not have to become a big issue. The key point in training is to give the bite when the dog barks in a strong defensive bark. New trainers often make a mistake and expect long barking sessions out of a dog - this is not correct. The dog only needs to bark hard 3 or 4 time for the helper to move and give a bite. The helpers (or trainers) that make the dog bark and bark and bark before it gets a bite are inviting a dirty dog. The dog needs to learn that the fight and bite come from intensity and not a certain duration of barking.
I have a question regarding a police dog. I would like your opinion on whether a good police dog should be bought and trained from a good quality pup? Or will the dog work out as well if it is bought fully trained? I know that if someone is to buy a dog and start its training themselves they are more likely to make training mistakes than a professional trainer will. I guess my biggest question is if the dog will be more "loyal" if it is bought as a pup?
Loyalty has nothing to do with this. An adult dog will be just as loyal to a good handler as a pup is.
It's cheaper to buy a pup and raise it. The risk in any pup is that it develops some kind of genetic health problem as it grows, (i.e. bad hips). Even though most problems are covered by a good guarantee it still means starting from scratch.
Selection tested dogs are mature males. If the dog is worth his salt he is going to be a challenge to train and handle. Without proper guidance a new handler will have problems with pack order and control. These issues are easier to settle with puppies as they grow.
So this issue is not as clear cut as it may seem. I am more in favor of a puppy program. A pup can be working the street at 15 to 18 months. He will need time to mature after that but he can be out there tracking bad guys, finding dope and learning the basics of bite work at that age.
I was wondering if you could tell me where I could get some info on the required training hours a narcotics dog should have and a patrol dog? Reason being our new chief thinks one day a week is too much for four dual purpose dogs and wants to cut us down to twice a month. We do use our dogs a lot considering we work in the projects and border one of the highest crime rate cities around. Most of the dogs are young.
I always recommend a minimum of 4-6 hours for a Patrol dog and 4 hours for a narcotics dog per week, once you have the dog at a level where you would call your work maintenance. If remediation needs to occur, or if your deployments are far above average this time increases to maintain proficiency. Lack of use does not equate to a decrease in need of these maintenance hours.
If you track extensively you should look at an increase in this as well for the multipurpose dog. If you assist or are part of a tactical team, which utilizes the canines as more than outer perimeter security, you must also increase this amount to include team training with tactical officers or with K-9 handlers in the role of tactical officers. The time commitment is significant but the rewards are high levels of proficiency leading to strong officer safety, good defense against frivolous lawsuits, it protects the administrators and supervisors from failure to train issues, and it will lead to more evidence located, more suspects captured, and greater confidence among the handlers. Certainly not least is that the confidence department personnel will have in the program increases resulting in the use of a proven, valuable resource.
There is also another end to this. LEO's can be lazy and that includes K-9 guys at times. They must be held responsible for using their training time wisely and this is the supervisors job and in turn the administration must be kept appraised of the training the dogs are under going. After action reports, training records, and an ongoing evaluation of the progress of the handlers and dogs is a must. I am also an advocate of training in areas where you have a great amount of your field calls so that the troops see handlers working their dogs, not drinking coffee. Communication with dispatch and field supervisors must be maintained during training so that a response can be made to canine deployments during general maintenance hours. The handlers must be aware that they are subject to call out and that the field guys know how to get a hold of them.
I did a training session yesterday, I walked my service dog along and came upon the query who stepped out unexpected. My service dog was barking, then the query who was wearing an exposed sleeve walked towards the dog using a whip as in your video tapes. When the dog launched initially, he bite on the sleeve and was given the sleeve. I kept the dog on a 6 foot leash, he "carried the sleeve" as in your tapes, I "outed" him, we stepped back out of reach of the sleeve, then the query stepped in with the whip again, leaving the sleeve laying on the ground. My dog would not retreat or try to hide behind me but he is obviously "locked in prey," as most of the time, he focused on the sleeve and "put up" with the whipping, occasionally looking toward the query, and taking a step toward him. Even when the query came around and pushed at me from behind, my dog mainly focused on the sleeve.
I know that the "best" thing for us would be to have your helper Kevin come here and assess the situation, however, we are a 10 officer police force without funds to pay for Kevin's expertise, we're fortunate enough to have this "new" k9 unit.
Do you have any suggestions?
1. Should we whip the dog until he takes his focus off the sleeve and either shows "fight" or "avoidance" and then deal with whichever comes?
2. Should I consider being content with a dog that only works in prey?
When the query slips the sleeve and the dog focuses on the sleeve on the ground the query should come around behind the dog and grab its tail and pull him by the tail (about 4 or 5 feet) as he pulls he should be hitting the dog on the side with the whip (being sure to not hit the dog in the eyes. This really pisses the dog off if it is a good dog he will become more focused on the query and less on the sleeve. When the dog moves towards the query he must step back and act afraid or impressed with the dog. The dog must learn that he can drive the query away and that if he does not he is going to get grabbed by the tail and hit.
Hi Ed, I am a K-9 handler in Georgia and I have a two year old Dutch Shepherd that is a dual purpose dog. He does great in protection work and he does well in muzzle fighting. During the work he is pretty intense but when the training is over he becomes very passive and it seems like he becomes a pet. I wanted to know a way to get him to be a little more aggressive. I would like to get him to bark at anyone who approaches the vehicle right now he will bark when I am away but if someone comes up to the vehicle he stops and just stares at them. My reason for wanting this is the other night I was in the station doing a report and another officer took my dog out of the vehicle and brought him in to the station to me. Besides making me pretty mad this also made me think that if this guy could pull my dog out of the car John Doe off the street could to. I thought if the dog fired up on people when they came close to the car they would probably think twice before opening the door. Thank you for your time.
First the other cop that did this needs to get a letter in his file for being an IDIOT! Start with doing agitation when the dog is in the car. Let the dog grip through the window. Then leave the window down about 3 inches. Have a guy walk up and when the dog sticks his nose out the window he needs to hit it HARD with a stick. It needs to hurt. When the dog barks he needs to open the door and take a bite on a hidden sleeve. Do this at night in the day in different locations. It does not take long. If your dog does not come around there is a genetic problem. Start with a new dog.
We have a problem with one of our new import dogs that we can't seem to figure out. I am a handler/instructor with the city of Melbourne, Florida K9 unit and am in the process of trying to get a new German Shepherd ready to work the road.
The dog is about 20 months old and has been in-country for about 4-6 months. He has lots of promise with nice prey drive and defense, some prior tracking experience and is very civil. The only snag we have come across in the K9 school is that the dog has a strong aversion to slick floors. I have come across this problem many times in the past and usually find that it is not a big deal once we get allot of associative work in getting the dog used to different environments, but this dog has become a real challenge. We are at a point in the school where, if we don't fix this its' going to stop us from continuing with an important part of training for police work. What we have done so far is walk the dog inside buildings in a non stress situation so that he can get used to the feel and what it takes to move around on the slick surface. We have also played tug-of-war and fetch with him inside the building when he appeared comfortable. This seemed to work and we thought we had the problem licked.
When we tried to conduct building search exercises and the stress level went up, the dog either wouldn't walk on the floor or he would concentrate on where he was walking and not on the task at hand. I attempted to overcome this by utilizing his prey drive and agitating him at the door where he could fire-up comfortably on rougher ground and have him bite at the entrance to the building. The dog either wouldn't engage or he would have a very weak bite. If the dog saw that he was going to hit the slick floor he would disengage.
After a number of these type of exercises didn't work, I put a piece of carpet over the door threshold and allowed the dog to bite where he could get some footing. While the dog was on the bite and the handler put back pressure on him he held tight even onto the slick floor, but when the back pressure was eased up he would loosen his bite or disengage. I tried this same routine and got onto the floor with the dog while he was on the bite as well with the same result.
We continue to try associating the dog with as many slick areas as we can and do not force him in when he doesn't want to go. After two weeks of building work mixed with other training we still have made very little headway.
I understand that these imports are kenneled pretty much their whole life
and it is understandable that this is usually something we have to overcome
when purchasing an import but I am at a loss for what to do next. Any
help/insight that you could offer would be extremely usefully. It should be noted that this dogs' handler, even though he has been working a dog for approximately 10-11 years, is not the strongest and his timing and understanding of how these animals work is only fair. Anyway, thank you for your time.
I will tell you some things to try that may work. If they do not you will have to wash the dog out of the program. Bottom line is this should have been seen in the selection testing and the dog never should have been introduced into your program. This is not a kenneling issue - it's a nerve issue and 99% of the time it is genetic.
You need to have your bite work start outside the building. The dog needs to be fired up outside and then chase the helper into the building. In the beginning the bite is taken right inside the door (even if its not on slick floors). Then the bite is taken further and further inside the building. For the first week or so there does not have to be any search for the helper - this is problem solving. There should be no bark and hold. Just a bite and release of the sleeve and let the dog carry the sleeve out of the building.
The training actually involved 2 sleeves - initially the helper wears the first sleeve into the building. The second sleeve has already been hid inside the building.
When the dog goes in and bites and leaves with the sleeve - the handler OUTS the dog when it is outside (give it a few seconds of moving around to calm his nerves (don't let the dog put the sleeve on the ground and mouth it). The helper should step out of the building and the dog should be alerted on the guy. Usually this is enough to help with the OUT. When the dog is fired up again the helper runs into the building - gets the second sleeve and the dog is sent in for another bite. Again - no search - just a chase and bite.
You can work towards - not having the helper pre-stimulate the dog - just send him in for a bite (no B&H until this problem is fixed). The dog should go deeper and deeper into the building for a bite. Long hallways work great for this.
If 2 weeks or so of this kind of work will not bring this dog around - find him a new home and go get another dog. It sucks but this is how one learns to do a better job of selection testing - sounds like your vender screwed you if you ask me.
You may want to get my Building Search for Police Service Dogs. It's a very good video and deals with things like this.
My partner is a 1 year old Blood Hound used for tracking. My dept. is just getting started with the K-9. I am just trying to find out any info on if you have to mark your K-9 vehicle with police K-9 or any type of warnings? just wondering if you can help.
If you have a 1 year old dog that you are trying to work in police service work you are screwing up.
A 1 year old dog is a baby.
Pigs don’t fly and 1 year old dogs are not police service dogs.
Ok, here is a question I have not found an answer from on your web site.
I am a former K-9 handler that left Law Enforcement in ‘95 and have just picked up a great female. I don’t miss Law Enforcement, but I miss working a dog, it was the best 3 years of Law Enforcement I ever had. So I purchased her from a good kennel, which has great blood lines, in-fact, the parents are from your program. I got her to have something to work with my children with and introduce them to working dogs now that they are getting older.
Here is my question(s): After working K-9 for 3 years, obviously the training, as you would agree is different, and I am finding myself trying to understand how to “transition” into
Schutzhund philosophy, which from my reading of Schutzhund is a test of the dogs abilities in a nutshell.
Our police department and many others shunned away from the sport because so many departments received bad “patrol” dogs that had all these titles, but could not work the street in any way. (Houston gave one of their handlers a SchH III and the dog had no teeth! - another story for another email).
Being in love with the Law Enforcement side of things, the really only way to train with a new dog, and not take away from the departments training time, I decided to look more into the sport, and found that there are good clubs and bad ones. I believe I have found one that is good.
After attending 2 local club meetings and training with them, I have had to ask myself what are the goals for the dog and myself. My service dog, as with this GSD were both very “ball” crazy. I never had to train with food before and was always taught that having to train a working dog with food, you never really get the dog to truly “work” for you. Now I understand the methodology and the reasons for it just never had to use them with my dogs.
Here is my question. In deciding to learn more about the sport side of competing with working dogs in Schutzhund and this style of training, and making the decision that this is not going to be a street working dog, but a stay at home, working dog/family protection animal, how do I get the precision obedience with the ball drive, versus using the food drive? Since this is for sport, am I better off finding a food that my GSD likes and work towards that for tracking and so on, or tie a string to the ball and use it over my shoulder for the obedience and so on.
I look forward to your response, and any video suggestions either your or someone else’s that really lays out the sport in detail on what the judges are looking for, what points are taken off of and why. Thanks for your time.
You pose some very good questions.
What you have seen in regard to problems with Schutzhund dogs trying to convert to police service dogs is a result of uneducated or scrupulous dog vendors selling dogs that were not properly selection tested for police work. It is not a local problem it’s a national problem. I see and hear of it everywhere. It is not the sport of Schutzhund that is bad it’s the morals of the people who sell the dog or the lack of education in the people who sell the dogs. There are a ton of people selling police service dogs that don’t have a clue about what kind of temperament and drive it takes to make a good service dog. Combine that with all the administrators that are clueless about dogs and it’s a formula for a problem.
The fact is that there are great sport dogs that can do both sport and police service work. They key is to selection test the dogs properly. I hope to release a video on how to do this next year. Most of it is filmed – finding the time to edit is the problem.
Your questions on training is also very good. The person who commented on food not being a good training tool also needs more experience in their dog training career.
There are only four ways to train a dog:
1- Use food drive
2- Use prey drive (a toy or prey item)
3- Use the drive to please the handler (maybe 1 dog in 10,000 has this drive)
4- Use force
The fact is food drive works just fine to train with. The problem with food is that the work does not translate over to protection work. The problem that people see when they use food are not food related but follow-up related. They fail to properly develop the correction and distraction phase of training. In other words they are not consistent trainers.
In my opinion using prey drive is the best way to train. Using prey drive works in obedience and in protection training. When trainers understand how to set up their training this method is just great.
Very, very, very, few dogs love a handler enough so that only work for the praise of the handler. I only know of one dog that would do this. So its not something to go into.
When dogs do not have food drive or they don’t have prey drive the only thing left to use in training is FORCE and I hate this method of training. Its OK for pets but it certainly is not the way to train a working dog.
With all of this said – the training videos that I have been doing with Bernhard Flinks from Germany is the best drive training that I have seen in 30 years of being around sport and Schutzhund dogs.
There are two training videos that I recommend for anyone getting involved with protection training for Schutzhund, police service work, or personal protection work.
These videos are:
Just wondering about your thoughts on a dual purpose police service dog having a handler change after being in service for approximately 2 years. 4 year old shepard. What steps would you recommend to make it a successful transition?
(I enjoy your web site and the dedication required for sharing so much information.)
The problem is usually the new handler and not really the dog. Most new handlers have little to no understanding on dog training.
If the new handler has never handled a dog he should be sent through patrol dog school with the dog. If this does not happen and the department is really opening itself up to lawsuits. A good defense attorney will tear the handler apart.
As far as the dog goes – it takes time to bond. When I get a new dog, even if it’s a SchH 3 dog, I assume he knows nothing and I take him through the training program. The dog already knows the game but he has to learn that I am fair, that I too know the game and that he now needs to mind me. This helps set the rank with the dog. Read the article I wrote on DEALING WITH A DOMINAT DOG.
I have a question will the black pup make a good detection dog/ patrol. Do you have any male pups from the other litters?
I am very reluctant to cart-blanch sell my pups to a department as a service dog for several reasons.
If a breeder tells you that they have a 5 week old pup that can do detection work they are:
1- Bull shitting you
2- Need a lot more experience
4- All of the above
Five weeks is too young to be able to tell if a dog has the drive for the work. The genetics are there but we don’t see the temperament and drive until 6 to 8 weeks.
Then we have to take into consideration the “K-9 handler” factor, rather I should say “the ability of a police handler to screw up a very good puppy”.
A working puppy is not raised like a normal pet. In fact this year I will be producing a training video on how to raise a working puppy. They are not raised like pets. This combined with the fact that most K-9 handlers with less than 4 or 5 years of experience are not very good dog trainers much less puppy trainers. If you have been in this for very long you have to agree.
So with all this said I would have to know who would be handling a pup from my kennel and the kind of experience the handler has before I would consider selling a dog to the department. This may sound stupid but if I send a good dog and it gets trashed – it’s then a Leerburg dog that was a shitter – when in fact it was a shity dog handler whose inexperience screwed up a good dog.
We have a 9 month old police German Shepherd bitch that is due to commence a 13 week course to get licensed, and have hit what appears to be a major hurdle. The bitch is from top stock and has amazing drive, nothing has fazed her until recently she has developed an aversion to walking on certain surfaces. Her reaction has varied from tentative movements on the surface and reluctance to walk on it to out and out refusal to go on it. The surfaces involved range from glossy floors to undergrowth in woodland areas. Her building searches and tracking have been impeccable up to this point. The only advice we have been given to date is to rest her for the fortnight prior to the course and then see how she gets on but with the view that she would be removed from the course and the handler (who is highly experienced) should she continue with this problem.
Any advise you can give would be gratefully received.
Let me first comment on the issue of a 9 month old dog going into any formal police training – this is ridiculous.
No 9 month old dog is ready for service work. It is still a baby. Whoever is telling you that a 9 month old pup should be allowed into training as a police service dog needs to get more education about dog training.
Slippery floors is a genetic issue.
Some dogs go through phases but this is no phase. It goes along with training a 9 month old female to be a police service dog. I have been involved in protection training for 30 years, went to my first police service dog seminar in 1978 – I have only seen 2 or 3 females that were good enough for patrol work. So when you tell me that you have a 9 month old female that you think you are going to do police work with – WELL – what can I say? It is not going to happen. It almost makes me feel that this is a joke email.
Where are you from and who is the trainer that is saying to do this?
I am a novice canine handler from a mid-sized police service in Ontario, Canada. I was interested in introducing my dog to muzzle fighting to help increase his fight drive as this was somewhat lacking. I purchased a muzzle, read several training articles, and purchased your training video on muzzle fighting. The introduction period to the muzzle went fine and I began the work in a circle with other canine unit from the area. His initial hits were fairly good, high and more or less in the right position, but not very hard, striking the quarry with his front paws more than the muzzle. To help increase the intensity of the hits I had the quarry use a sleeve and the hits were a lot harder and intense. My problem is now he won’t respond to the quarry with a proper muzzle hit unless the quarry has a sleeve on. He will act in an aggressive manner but seems to be looking for the sleeve. I am asking what I could do to get him back focused on the quarry and stop looking for the sleeve. Thanks in advance.
Sounds like the dog is locked up in prey – I wont explain this as I have written elsewhere on this.
It also sounds like your dog needs an EXPERIENCED helper who knows exactly what he is doing to hurt this dog in training so the dog learns that the helper can hurt him. Sometimes this works – sometime it does not.
The dog should be worked by himself – not in a circle with other dogs – that’s old school work.
DO NOT RISK YOUR LIFE BY EXPECTING THIS DOG TO PROTECT YOU – HE WILL NOT BITE A SUSPECT FOR REAL !!!!!!!
Hi Mr. Frawley,
Thank you for taking the time to read my email. I think your web site is wonderful and have purchased several of your DVDs. I have a question and it's probably located somewhere in your web site but I cannot find anything so I was wondering if you would help. My husband is a police officer with the Ardmore PD and they have been without a canine for several years. The state has awarded a grant for this and he has been selected to be the canine handler. He will be attending training classes and all that. My question is this. We already have a GSD who is a year and 4 months old. He lives in the house with us and is part of the family. What do we need to do when the other GSD comes into our family? We have a crate we keep Max in when we are out and at night. Can you please give us some suggestions as to how to keep the two dogs? We are planning on building a kennel in our back yard for two dogs.
I am not a fan of keeping a police dog as a house dog. It makes Pets out of them. They are working animals not pets.
I also do not believe that two males are going to get along together. In fact I would not try. You can read the article I wrote on how to introduce a new dog into a home with existing dogs. But I do not believe that you should do this.
Your husband could be well advised to get some of the police K9 training DVDs that I have done.
Here is the short list:
Building Drive and Focus (this work builds the bond with the dog – its also the foundation of control work)
There are more but this is a good start.
Dear Mr. Frawley,
I was wondering if you "believe in" the z PS line of a dogs as one of the better line of police service dogs to select in choosing a patrol dog. Additionally, though I understand that all dogs mature differently, is it unrealistic to receive a police prospect at 6 months and expect him to be operational at 11 to 13 months???
I ask this specifically because I was just informed that a local (Georgia) agency currently utilizes a 10 month old dog for patrol work and I thought that it was a little young for my taste but again understand dogs can mature differently.
Thank you in advance Sir.
I never heard of ZPS bloodlines and I have bred more police service dogs than anyone in the United Sates.
Expecting an 11 month old to be an active patrol dog is the dumbest thing I have heard in years. Truly stupid.
I have three questions that came from one of our newer police K-9 handlers reference his service dog. I know you don't have all the info needed to make an exact opinion, just let me know in general if you have any advise on these problems.
1) On building searches, the dog will leave the handler, go in the building part way and come back to the handler without completing the search. He repeats this several times and his concentration is more on the handler than the search.
2) The same dog when doing bite work will out (clean) and immediately heel to his handler, rather than watch the threat. It is unknown if the same dog will do this in actual service work, but the handler noticed this is something the dog started to do recently. The same thing with the above mentioned building search problem.
3) Lastly, the same dog has begun to be extremely possessive over the inside of the cruiser. This includes window charging anybody (civilian or officer) who approaches the inside of the car. He does this mostly when the handler is in the car with him.
The dog is very sound with exception to the above and shows no obvious nervous issues. The handler has had no problem with his street work and the above mentioned problems are recent. The handler has gone to the extreme to educate himself on handling and has given the dog a quality life including home, work and training. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I searched the Q and A as well as the Training article section but did not find the answers.
I can only guess at this, and I would not put much weight on my guess. Without seeing the dog and knowing nothing of the training program - what can I say?
With this said I have written comments below:
1-Back the training up - let the helper stimulate the dog outside, and run into the building - so the dog sees him run in. Gradually increase the distance inside that the dog is allowed to engage the helper. In the beginning it's only 20 feet inside the door.
2- The instant the dog outs, the helper should re-engage the dog. If the dog turns too quickly, the helper needs to crack it (hard) with the whip or stick and then re-engage.
3- This can be a pain in the butt once it starts. To stop it requires a lot of force. I am inclined not to try and put that much force on the dog. If need be use an electric collar. I use a Dogtra 1700 NCP.
I have a male GSD that has just turned 3 years old last month. He has been worked by me as a Police Dog for the last 1.5 years and has proved himself in all areas of Police work other than actually biting anyone. He has had a number of opportunities to bite both on and off the lead but on each occasion has not taken the bite. He has jumped up and investigated the arm of a feeing criminal and has barked aggressively at an approaching criminal but failed to move forward and bite. I have had a roll around on the floor with 2 criminals while he was on the lead with me and he did not bite either of them.
In training you could not ask for a better dog. He achieves everything that is asked of him which includes 'practical' scenarios. His tracking/searching/control is excellent.
I have trained with both overt and covert sleeves and he does not hesitate to bite. If he is attacked he will bite.
The advice I receive from my training department is to keep exposing him to these live situations and one day he should 'mature' and bite. I don't have much confidence in this method.
Any advice would be great.
Many thanks in advance,
Let me begin by saying that your department is 100% wrong and their advice is very dangerous.
I will almost guarantee you that this dog would not pass a selection test for a police service dog. When dogs do this it's a sign of avoidance.
I can tell you that is this dog were in any reputable police K9 program in this country it would be washed out of the program.
Do not put your life on the line with this dog. It will not be there for you when you need it.
Hope to do a DVD later this year on SELECTION TESTING DOGS FOR POLICE WORK.
My name is Justin, and I am a K9 security Officer at a hospital in Scottsdale AZ. I have a question about outs, recalls, and a rear guard and bark. My partner is a 3 year old Malinois that was trained in IPO. His bites are very solid, but he does not want to out. When he does out, he will go into a rear guard and bark (for the escort, like he was trained before in Europe.) We had an incident last training night where Robbie got "Dirty" when he was in the guard and bark, he bite the agitator. Do you have any ideas on how to change him from a rear guard and bark to a front guard and bark? Also he does not want to recall after an out, again any suggestions would be great. We have tried a pinch collar, an E-collar, and even an Electric prod. He is a great partner, and we want to stop this quickly so we do not have an incident in the hospital, of an accidental bite. (Just on the side we are NPCA certified, and train with the Scottsdale PD every week. - Just so you know the general background)
Thank you for you time and wealth of knowledge
Justin and Robbie
The OUT is 100% a rank and pack drive issue. When a dog does not OUT properly it is 100% a rank issue with the handler.
How you solve this varies from dog to dog. I assure you that this problem shows in other areas if your relationship with the dog.
The RECALL is also 100% a relationship problem - or lack of relationship.
Our department is forming a K9 unit and I am being seriously considered as the first handler. I am interested in your opinion on my "situation."
My main concern regarding the safety of my family unit as we have two very small children and two adult dogs. I understand each dog is unique but without any further information do you think I would be a suitable departmental K9 handler or am I setting myself up for disaster?
Thanks in advance,
Police dogs are not pets. They are not family dogs. They are also NOT HOUSE DOGS. They are tools of work.
They don’t play with family members, they don’t interact with family dogs. They have a kennel and that’s where they stay when they come home. The K9 handler interacts with the dog by himself or herself.
Those k9 handlers who choose to go another direction or ignore these positions risk their department's support and/or the department's K9 program.
I'm a Police Dog Handler in Yorkshire, England, I e-mailed you recently about Police Dog Training.
Another enquiry I have for you is this. My wife Tracy is also a Police Dog handler and has been working her first dog which is a Slyvakion Shepherd for the past eight months on the streets. He has a huge amount of prey drive however we have yet progressed his defensive and fight drive. He is two years of age and very confident and after watching your 1st stages of bite work and Bark and Hold DVDs we would like to no progress this.
My question is, Tracy has difficulties finding a colleague to assist with Danny's training and as it stands there are only a small few who have seen your work and are comfortable with it. Therefore, will I be able to work as a helper for Tracy to assist with progressing Danny's fight drive bearing in mind I sometimes exercise Danny if Tracy is on a night shift or other circumstances dictate? Or would this cause us problems?
I await your reply with anticipation.
You can probably only do prey drive work.
If I were you I would not play with this dog or even pet it. Just become 100% neutral to the dog. But even then he will not be able to look at you as a serious fighting partner.
Your web sight is great and so are your videos. I have contacted your recently about a political nightmare in getting advice for handler selection. Recently our department gave our Malinois to another department to get a credit. That department gave the dog back because in two days he bit the handler, chewed up his cell phone and continually humped his leg. This dog has had two other previous handlers and has always been a hard dog. He has excellent prey and fight drives and knocks people down when doing muzzle fighting like no other dog our other handlers have ever seen. His dope work is good but his tracking is so so. I have read your articles and know that this is a dominant dog that needs lots of training form a competent handler. The first handler who had this dog only had him about a month past the time that he was trained as he was promoted. The second handler did a crappy job in training after back from school. Do you think that no matter who my department chooses, that this would be a good dog for a first time handler or should they try to trade it again. He has always done well when sent to school for training with both previous handlers. If you think that this dog would be good I plan on getting your dominant dog video, the video on electric dog collars, and the dominant dog collar. Any other suggestions?
The handler on the other department was a dummy – to allow these things to happen. Wrong guy for the job.
Bottom line is this seems to be more of a pack structure issue with the dog than a training issue. The dog is going to need someone who understands how to establish pack structure and build respect in this dog which leads to control - without trying to DOMINEER the dog (that only loses trust and respect).
I have a free eBook on my web site about the groundwork to becoming a pack leader – read it. My web site has a large number of FREE eBooks that I have written. Go to the main directory for eBooks.
I could write a book on what needs to be done here but I don’t have the time. Sorry. Normal obedience is NEVER GOING TO SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM – its only a small part of the solution.
First let me thank you for responding as I am sure you are very busy. I am fan of your videos, I've ordered several and plan on ordering several more along w/ the books.
I have a 3 y/o Mali who is sensitive to the E-collar. He doesn't even like just a slight shock. For example when it's put on him for a building search he will enter the building go about 10 yards, turn and detain me (the handler).
His previous handler has only had to 'roll' him once and it was when he had the shock collar on him and he gave him a slight shock, the dog then went into prey drive and charged him.
I thought about putting him in muzzle and working him very extensively on the collar until he just got used to it. Is that the way to go or would you suggest something different?
Thanks for your time,
There are so many things going on here that I could write a chapter in a book on it.
There has been some very bad training for this to happen.
You have two problems here.
1- A Building search problem
2- An electric collar problem
Putting a dog in a muzzle is OK and should be used in building search - BUT NOT WITH AN E-COLLAR !!!! ) You will screw this dog up so bad you probably will not be able to bring him back.
So do short muzzle searches - 30 feet inside the door and slowly expand it. The fact is I have an excellent training video on how to do building searches. Talk your department into getting it.
If this were my dog I would not be using the collar on this dog in a search until the search training was correct.
I would only use the e-collar on other issues and not around a build search - this is started by taking 2 or 3 weeks of putting the collar on the dog and taking it off 3 to 5 times a day. So the actual act of putting the collar on means nothing to the dog. We don’t want the collar going on to be a trigger to do stupid things. Proper conditioning to the collar is the biggest mistake trainers make.
Once the conditioning is done then it's time to learn how to use low level nick to train. This is not rocket science but it does require you to learn how to break an exercise into the smallest of parts. Read the Q&A on police K9 work on my site there is a detailed answer on how to train the OUT.
Hey my name is Frank. I am a k9 police officer in New York State. I have a german shepard who is almost 3 years old. We have been on the road for about 1 year. I have been searching for a remedy with my k9 on a problem I have and have tried asking my k9 trainer but have had negative results. My only problem with my k9 is in my personal car and patrol car. I can not get him to be quiet during the ride. He constantly whines and cries in the car while we are driving. Once the car stops he is fine. I thought about a bark collar but he doesn't bark he cries. Verbal commands last all of 60 seconds. Leash corrections last about 5 minutes. Any suggestions?
If you have a service dog you should be training with a remote collar. I never left with my patrol dog without his collar going on. This is a simple issue to solve – you don’t need to fry the dog – learn to train with low level stimulation. I have a DVD on this, Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner.
In fact our xmas special gives people 50% off this DVD with the purchase of any collar. I use a Dogtra 1700 on my personal dog.
These bark collars would work but tactically its not a good option. There may be a time that you need your dog and don’t have time to remove it – that wont happen with the remote collar.
I work in the Israeli swat in puppy program for special forces.
We have few malinois puppies in different ages, and we have some disagreement between us about the best age to put real pressure from a decoy on the puppy/dog,
I'll be glad if you can answer from your experience with puppies and young dogs, what are you expect from a good (working) puppy to show you before you treat him as a mature dog and not as a puppy.
What are the cues we need to see to say it's not a puppy anymore, and we can treat this young as a mature dog.
Thanks a lot,
I don’t believe that there is any one quality you need to see in order to begin working the puppy as an adult dog. I want to see confidence in all areas of the puppy’s interactions with his environment and with people. In training, I want to make sure the dog is working in bite work with a full grip and only moving forward. Around the house, I want to see the dog becoming territorial and I like a puppy that walks around with tail UP all the time, acting like he owns the place.
A submissive puppy or a puppy that doesn’t have a lot of natural self confidence will need more foundation work to be successful as a working dog (in our experience).
It’s really a hard question to answer in an email. I hope this helps.
Hello Mr. Frawley,
My name is Michael. I am currently on active duty in the united states marine corps. I can all ways be found going threw your web site reading as much information as I can take in on dog training. With all the so called " trainers" out there you are by far the only one I would consider to let train my dog. To make this email short and sweet I came across an article entitled "Real men don't lynch" http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/08/174957.php
I have plans on becoming a trainer and want to become a k9 officer when I am finished with my duties here in the corps. Can you tell me if this is a common practice in Schutzhund and training police and military k9s. I have read on your site that you feel it is important to build a bond with your dog because he can like you but not respect you as a pack leader is this how you establish being a pack leader or is this the result of bad training practices. How is it that hanging a dog and beating him "forces" him to respect you? I would appreciate any information you can give me thank you.
These are very good questions.
In answering this I will also begin by saying that this topic is an issue that creates extreme emotion in people who don't understand dog aggression (specifically serious handler aggression) and pack structure.
While I have only had time to skim the link to your article - I have seen examples of animal abuse on the internet by various trainers. I can only say that there were no excuses for training methods that are unwarranted animal abuse. When it happens the handlers or owners should be punished.
With this said, some "selection tested police service dogs" (dogs in training to be police dogs) or some police service dogs that are mature adults occasionally have "handler aggression problems". Most often this is related to dogs with dominance issues. This form of aggression can be very dangerous for the handlers because these dogs have been trained to bite humans, so when they bite they do so with aggression that can cause serious injuries.
Unfortunately the issue of handler aggression is best dealt with at 7 or 8 months of age when dogs are still puppies. Dogs that are selected for police work are often 18 to 24 months of age, they are no longer puppies they are mature adults.
When dogs are young (7 months) dealing with emerging handler aggression and rank issues can be dealt with rather easily to show the dog that they are not pack leaders and this aggressive behavior will not be tolerated. At 7 months dogs "back down" rather quickly in deference to their handlers leadership. That doesn't happen if the dog is allowed to manifest handler aggression into adulthood.
When owners don't address aggression problems until the dog is 20 months old they are faced with a completely different scenario than what they had when the dog was 7 months old. The fact is it's almost impossible to bond with adult dogs with handler aggression because they are always trying to dominant you. These are dogs that have behavioral problems that make them very hard to live with.
Often times what happens with dogs like this is they are put to sleep because they end up biting the wrong people. This happens all too often with pet owners and it can even happen with inexperienced service dog owners.
There are times when an adult dog can have its dominance turned around with rather extreme measures by using our dominant dog collars. This does involve taking the dogs air away when the dog tries to attack the handler. These dominant dogs learn rather quickly that they are not a higher ranking member of the pack than the handler they just tried to bite. This process is normally over very quickly, it takes 3 or 4 sessions for a dog to realize he had better not try and bite his owner/handler. With police service dogs this should be done under the supervision of an experienced trainer or instructor. While it's an ugly process it often saves the life of a dog because it is a last resort that's done RATHER THAN killing the dog.
There are always going to be so called behaviorists who think they can counter condition a dog with motivational methods. These are people who have worked with shelties and golden retrievers their entire career. Their methods may work with some (emphasis on SOME) family pets with minor problems. Their methods do not work with dogs that have true aggression. When faced with dogs like these - these people walk away with lame excuses on why this dog is un-trainable.
These self proclaimed behaviorists often offer dangerous advice that DOES NOT WORK !!! and in fact it is all too often drop dead stupid. When dog owners try these methods and the dogs continue to bite the owners or others the dogs end up being put to sleep. In many cases this is too bad because with pack structure training, correct obedience training and controlling the environment that these dogs are allowed to live in they can live safe lives.
With all this said, when rank has been established it is possible to form a bond with many of these dogs. Handlers can train them motivationally and have a great relationship with the dog. But they must always micro-manage the environment the dogs are allowed to live in, they must always micro-manage the dogs behavior through obedience training and they must be aware of dominance raising its ugly head. When that happens correcting the problem seldom requires the extreme measures used to extinguish the original behavior. It only requires the handler reminding the dog who the pack leader is.
In closing, there is no place in dog training for beating or hitting a dog.
Beating and hitting is not a correction, it is animal abuse.
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,
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.
I have learned so much viewing your web site and that is why I am seeking advise about kenneling my dog while I am on vacation. I am a police K-9 handler and I have been a team with my partner for a year now. I am taking my first vacation with my family for six days and I am leaving my dog in the care of another police K-9 handler whom I work with and my dog as a lot of positive interaction with. He will be caring for my dog at his house because he will be able to monitor him frequently. The dog will be kenneled for long periods time and crated for very short period of time during inclement weather. He will feed my dog as directed and take my dog on daily walks just to get exercise. My question to you is, do you having concerns or advise for me or the other handler taking care of my dog? He will be taken out of his environment for those six days and I have concern that this may affect my dog's performance ability when returning to work or training. I maybe over concerned, but I am new at this and have never left him alone for more than a day. Any advise or recommendation would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
As long as the other canine handler doesn’t play with or try to train or buddy up with your dog it should. No toys, no treats, no petting. You want the dog to be bored while you are gone, not given a chance to have fun with another person.
I hope this helps. Enjoy your vacation.