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A look at Temperament testing a dog for police work:

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A look at Temperament testing a dog for police work:

Several aspects influence this process: We look for different temperament traits, when it comes to sourcing dogs for future use by category; Patrol dog, tracking, rescue, bomb detection, display and nark; there is just no norm for all disciplines concerned. Every disciple of police work requires specifics, similarity, and conformity.

The guiding aspects are: Conformity, similarity, and specifics.

On conformity: For one thing, conformity plays a great role in Police work; patrol dogs are traditionally big dogs with proven working characteristics that are breed specific – we joke that we need dogs that are as dumb as a plank and as tough as nails. We use GSD’s and Rottweiler mainly – not implying that they are dumb, but they can take tons of punishment and have more resilience to harsh circumstances – we have on occasion used Malinois – but struggle to get really big one’s and Boerboel, but we prefer the GSD.

The dog has to look the part and conform to the norm. It looks far better if all the dogs in this category (patrol dog) are of the same breed, and color, when we line up for crowd control etc., but there are always exceptions, and in the case where we find exceptional dogs from other breeds we will use them…

With explosives, we do not have any breed specific requirements or standards – we just look at drives – and consistency in work rate.

With narcotics, we prefer the boarder collies – very high drive, small and agile, they jump onto anything and crawl into any space. Very eager, very intelligent dogs, with character, good with people and especially children.

On similarity: We put them all through “basics” to build up what is under the skin, the important stuff, before we do selection testing..

Stage one: Prepping; or preparing a dog for tactical police work by habitation, play, and stimulation and socialization.

The dogs should be exposed to the police working environments from puppy hood, - velt, swamps, tunnels, pipe’s etc.- to the time it gets formally trained until such time that the dog is mature enough, to go into a program.

During prepping the dogs development gets more attention than the handlers, for instance with swimming, when confronted with a natural barrier like - water we make sure that handler and dog can swim equally well we don’t just take this for granted. We train active river crossings, we send dog first and then later in and cross simultaneously. Is it important that the dog takes to water like a duck.

We don’t assume that the dog will have the “Natural ability” to get out either. We scenario train extractions under various conditions, for instance if your dog falls into a swimming pool, do we assume he will get out, do we give it any thought, or do we blindly train one aspect of police dogs only- apprehension ,‘outs” and finds, until it is perfected.

Or do we only see the value of prepping when we are stuck in a river waist deep chasing a criminal, if the training teaches a dog to down on a “out”, how will he “out” when in water, are these factors ever taken into account or not, or do we apply the “ sink or swim” approach.

My point, a dog can get a handler killed, even him self if he makes what we perceive to be “stupid” mistakes, should we anticipate beforehand situations from prior experiences and devise methods in training to circumvent such “stupid” mistakes with.

Still my view is this; we train the dogs to attack, to retrieve, search and do other required field exercises under controlled circumstances, “as safe as possible as easy as possible, with the least chance to screw up the dogs, but progressively we introduce street scenarios, and stress.

We aim at delivering street-smart dogs, not at all safe or easy. This again is done by trail and error in all honesty, we have realized that there will very seldom be a fresh dog stepping up to the plate to fight, after he has just done a 30 minute chase, so it’s NOT about the moments in training but the time spent to perfect it under stress. Stress operant induction and training should be – yes, time constraints and policy as well as finances handicap this – nevertheless, where there is a will there is a way.

On specifics; A lot of balancing and agility work is done from as early as possible, the younger the dog the better. Just like children, they are fearless, but as they grow older, they learn to know fear – then sometimes it takes much effort to bridge the gap effectively – or not. We take them out; go walking on dam walls to get the dogs use to heights, steel, glass, and rubber surfaces, sounds, and smells. Night work plays another important role. We put the assailant – the handler - in the bush and send the dog to go through thick under growth etc. This builds confidence, and the natural ability for using sight smell and sound. Urban dogs are like us, queued to use only sight.

Fitness plays a big role, we drop them off and then drive through the bush, or wherever and cover a lot of ground while they run behind the vehicle.

On specifics:” I firmly believe that you cannot see what it is in the dog, if you don take out of him”. This is only possible if you work in a structured manner and observe the dog in action, and then for an informed opinion. Some dogs will not attack, sniff, play or perform if the handler that is testing him had to drag him out of the kennel – just one example. The evaluator did not see this, and then scratches a perfectly good dog on face value.

This is why we keep a pool of dogs and then they get to bond with the instructors, and then are evaluated on a weekly basis, and so the pool shrinks to the desired total.

In the final analyses, we get the best products to work with; Then specialization starts with specific outcomes towards the required standards :wink:
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A very timely post, Reinier. But I do believe training of such nature does not only apply for would-be police dogs, but for all working dogs in general. Obedience in and along every facet of work (agility, tracking and defense) is introduced early on as part of Puppy foundation. That actually equates to introduction of increasing stresses present in any nature of work, as real as real should be. Natural skills are indeed brought out through introduction of varying scenarios (not routines) but these skills need to be tested and retested everytime in increasing stresses while at the work under varying circumstances and conditions. Fear, if present, must be addressed head-on by a skilled handler who must work his dog thru it. To learn to work thru it is the only way to overcome it. Only then can stress become a character-builder and a training aid second to none.

All these to ensure better chances of a pup getting ready for any future work it may fit in as its abilities --- brought out and honed by proper training --- dictates.

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As is the norm, another outstanding article!!
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