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Leerburg Dog Training Blog

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.
My take on the Police K-9 Training Community

My take on the Police K-9 Training Community

I’ve been observing from both the inside and outside of various elements of the K-9 community the last several years. Now I started training police dogs back in the early 1980’s. I am knee deep in training nearly every day of the week and have been for decades. I am very proud of the accomplishments I had during my tenure as a handler and of the handlers I have taught and mentored over the years. But frankly, the K-9 community s getting weird.
What do I mean by weird? Well, a number of years ago some great folks started having K-9 conferences. They were great!! These things have now morphed into their own oddity. Often places where the audience is 80% dog vendors, independent trainers, corporate types, and miscellaneous others who really want a slice of the pie. They pat each other on the back and mingle at social events and talk trade talk. This is a huge departure from the environment where I struggled to begin. At that time it was all about breaking the dogs out of the gate and seeing what ya had to offer. Today, we don’t train dogs, we produce powerpoints and sales pitches. I long for the days of boots on the ground, get dirty, bit, develop a sore back from watching 50 detection dogs train, and having a bitching argument about training technique, genetics, tactics, and a few war stories thrown in. But, ya still had to have a leash in your hand a dog that walked the walk with you. Not just a powerpoint.
I know death by powerpoint has become an accepted “thing” in many circles. It certainly has it’s place. It is a great way to introduce concepts and a great way to claim expertise where none exists.
Now I do powerpoints frequently, but I always feel half naked when I do so. I really really want to show what I do, how I problem solve, and how the concepts can come together to produce a kick ass working dog and team. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I don’t believe the mechanical skills, the multitude on sensory inputs, getting the rubber to meet the road, can be done that way.
I watch students struggle with application that get high scores on written tests. They got their information for their answers via presentations. But, the craft of dog training cannot and will never be transmitted other than through the interaction of living creatures…dog, handler, decoy, odor, movements, leashes, collars, muzzles……it is a dance that only comes to those who dance to the music. The more partners you have the greater you become. The more students both K-9 and human, the better you become. This isn’t powerpoint or classroom lecture (though there is a great need for such information) it is hands on craftsmanship and teaching for both humans and dogs.
So, next time you go to a convention or conference, don’t include that as training, just background information. Follow up by going hands on with the instructors, get dirty, make mistakes. You may find that there are great powerpoint presenters and there are great K-9 trainers/instructors and they may not be the same.

Comments

  1. Avatar
    Erik Emptage
    January 10, 2019

    I have nothing to add to this except for I agree

  2. Avatar
    Ernest Ford
    January 10, 2019

    Awesome read, and I totally agree sir would love to spend time one day training with you.

  3. Avatar
    Henk Verbeek
    January 11, 2019

    We as Dutch k9 Centre we can do both.
    But the best we are when you give is a lease and a dog at the other end.
    PowerPoint makes aducated trainers, training makes gkkd dogs.

  4. Avatar
    Henk Verbeek
    January 11, 2019

    We as Dutch k9 Centre we can do both.
    But the best we are when you give us a lease and a dog at the other end.
    PowerPoint makes aducated trainers, training makes good dogs.

  5. Kevin Sheldahl
    Kevin Sheldahl
    January 13, 2019

    I have gotten many responses through Leerburg and through social media on this blog post. Thank you for the input all! I appreciate that you take the time to read my thoughts on police dog training!

    • Avatar
      Don Slavik
      January 16, 2019

      I couldn’t agree more, some handlers who have the basics of training might understand through lectures the points you are trying to make. Ultimately, understanding training while handling a dog and watching the impact it has, will give the handler more information when the trainer is not there to make corrections.

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