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Making the case for the K9 Unit to be in charge of its own training:

1) The K9 Unit is a Specialised function and this aspect needs to be acknowledged and not down played.

In Lieu of the question who is or should be in charge of the K9 Unit training?

Well this is my point and argument I would like to make, the K9 unit is a specialised function, that is multi faceted and layered, and can thus only be managed properly by a “specialist” , a person in the know. Just like a doctor is a specialist, and a plumber and one would only expect one specific field to be addressed by them, and not cross fields under the banner of training.. Yes we can all clean a wound, or fix a leaking pipe. But does that make us a doctor or a Plumber? No – not by a long shot, this is one of the arguments most departments struggle with when they have to decide where the K9 unit training function will reside. Will it be with the training division, or the K9 unit.

This is a pita: a working dog differs from a pet in this respect, firstly it is an animal, that has much more needs than a pet, and the dog gets worked from the cradle to the grave in this regard, or so to speak.

The point is this: when discussing the issue of the Management of the K9 unit as a full function, why do we want to take the training aspect and throw it with the training division. We need to distinguish clearly what aspects we are about to address, and unpack it to add value. The aspects of K9 Unit Management could be dissected to show the following levels of expertise required.

a) Operational Management – in the field utilisation – law – implication.
b) Conditioning Management – basic training – fitness – socialisation.
c) Training Management – all aspects. Man and Dog.
d) Maintenance and logistics Management – administration of unit.
e) Kennel Management – this includes car, home, and vehicle.

The “dog” and who needs to manage the “dogs” training that makes up the essence of the unit, then the staff function the people that manage the dogs, their feeding programs, inoculations, conditioning and training as well as all other related aspects without having to go into too much detail here – should be one aspect. It is evident that the strategic management and logistical, kennel, conditioning and maintaining are all the behind the scenes stuff that are required from a K9 Unit Commander, then the operational function, surfaces. The K9 and handler, the mind set of a pet equates to a working dog in all aspects, should be removed as reference from this debate, for it is and will never hold truth in relation to what actually is happening on the road between man and dog.

In the one instance, the dog is a tool; in the other, he is an animal with needs.

We have to remove ourselves from our pet dogs at home paradigm as reference to this debate. The one’s we grew up with when entering constructive debate as to what will be our personal preference and a reference when arguing this point.

We have to view dogs as working animals, like the one’s at the circus, for the a for mentioned argument holds no truth except for the outer outward appearances and similarities our dogs share at home and have with their counter parts in the police.

To put this in perspective, one needs to understand the K9 Unit Commanders task, role, and function. He has one job, and that’s to revolve and evolve the “ tools”(and I say this with the deepest of respect to argue a point).

Keeping them sharp, the “tools or dogs” that is, is a mammoth task so to speak as well as the caring and managing of day to day events. Stated very simplistically you cannot be caught with your pants down when managing a unit of this nature, things can and will go wrong very fast, if the functional and personal discipline disappears from the scene.

Lets follow the “revolving process” of a dog in the dog unit: for one thing, people only see one dog and handler. No one takes into account that some handlers might have as many as two even three dogs, some as many as four dogs in his career as a handler, and these dogs must come from somewhere and someone must breed, raise, condition, prep and train them and nurse them until they become serviceable and trainable, and then keep them serviceable.

Just like knives they need regular sharpening with an eight hour a week re-training program, or some call it conditioning that has to take place. In order to keep the working permit, just like a gun licence in place.

The continuation of K9 units, and the keeping of expertise start with the picking of a puppy or young adult dog, or even several from a batch, for future use, then prepping – preparing him for future use. As an explosives dog or search and rescue for example etc.

Then the process starts, the revolving of new, to mature, to old - with daily conditioning, then socialising, then habitation, imprinting and then only formal training, then certification and then the dog gets his permit and joins the force.

This could take anything from eight to sixteen months – just to arrive at the point where you can pair a working certified dog with a trained handler. Well this is explained very simplistic one’s again.

The point I am trying – sometimes futile – to get across is that, an “instructor” from the training division looses out on this evolving posses, and he becomes blunt him self, and distracted if he joins the ranks of the training division that falls out side the ambit of the K9 unit.

What are your views on this?
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