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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.

What the hell has happened to control, tactics, and common sense in Patrol K-9?

Soo, I usually write these blogs based on some current trend, or hot topic, or other thought provoking information that I come across. Today is no different.

I have been following a series of comments from various sources about something “new”. This is a tool used to insert behind a dogs molars and gently depress the dogs tongue causing the dog to gag and open its mouth. This is done in bitework. It is really an old method, used by the German SEK dog handlers for many years. It is NOT to be confused with a breakstick as used by pit bull people to separate dogs in the pit. It is similar but subtly much different. Much like the tactical release in police dog work is a gag produced by use of a chain collar by a trained handler vs. a choke off or taking the dog off strong as it is at times called. Interestingly the gag tool can be used to increase depth of grips when used by a trained decoy, to encourage the dog to reset its grip fully. It is all in the application. It’s not in the stick that I have an issue, not in manual means of encouraging a dog to open its mouth.

Where I get wide eyed and concerned is the fan clubs of this technique also seem to fall into the category of “NEVER OUT YOUR DOG ON ACTUAL CAPTURES” group of questionable thinkers.

This group attacks its peers for having and or using a verbal release on the road in police applications. These folks seem to be advocating allowing the dog to drive tactics and for doing something I preach against continually, following the little brown hole. That view of your dog can cause you to have little to no tactics in the search and capture of a potentially violent suspect. In my minds eye I see handlers running around at the end of a thirty foot lead, or worse a flexilead behind their dog on all searches. Being drawn into a conflict by the amazing hunting ethi of their dog and the highly developed senses borrowed from the dogs genetic history as a hunter, a predator. Being pulled along, a useless shooting platform, always at the point in a search, unwittingly giving up the safety that good control, tactics, and technique can afford the safety of their peers and themselves.

I will not belabor the tactics end of this much, as the inter webs are not the place for that discussion. Just let me pose a couple of very common deployments where failing to be proficient in the verbal control of your dog can cause you safety and possibly 4th amendment issues.

1) Your dog and you are doing a yard to yard search for a subject involved in a homicide with a firearm. Your dog zooms into a crawlspace access in a older home. He fits fine and finds the offender 20 feet into the crawlspace. What are your tactics without a verbal release? Has your dog drawn you into a situation you don’t have the tools to solve? Have you trained this scenario?

2) US Marshals have been seeking a particularly violent offender. You have been supporting their operations for a couple days and have conducted several searches. Today is the attic of a relative. The area is tight so perfect for the dog to fit. This time your dog engages the suspect in the attic and the fight is on. Auntie whose house you are in screams from outside the front porch that he has a gun. You cannot recall your pooch……what are your tactics?

3) Every time your dog engages a suspect you have to go put hands on the dog, regardless of the situation, regardless of the resources you have with you. How many times can you repeat this scenario without compromising safety, or violating civil rights of the bad guys trying to submit? Ask yourself, don’t listen to the bullshit, ask your self if this is the way you were taught officer safety? Ask yourself if you were ever really taught tactics and safety in K-9 deployments or if you’re just doing what the dog trainers who weren’t experienced street cops are telling you to do ?
Tell yourself……don’t follow the little brown hole!

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