Police Dogs Training Methods Paying Off for K9 Officers

Written by Senior Editor Peter Gehr

Police Dogs Training Methods Paying Off for K9 Officers

Police Dogs Training Methods Paying Off for K9 Officers

Some dogs are trained to jump through hoops, others to encourage the sick and elderly, and a household pet is trained to be like a family member. However, there are other canines that are bred and nurtured for more serious lines of duty. Such is the case for police dogs training methods paying off for K9 Officers. These specialized canines are a powerful tool in the officer’s arsenal, and their mere presence is enough for any criminal to behave.

Police Dogs Training Methods Paying Off for K9 Officers

Decatur police Sgt. Kyle Shelton doesn’t mind that he takes his work home with him every night. After all, it lives in a kennel behind his house.

“I wouldn’t change it,” Shelton said. “I’ve got dog hair all over me, smell like a dog even after I shower and have allergies, but he’s the best partner I’ve ever had.”

Shelton’s canine partner, Bear, is one of two multi-purpose dogs the Decatur Police Department uses for tracking, evidence searches and narcotics searches.

Shelton joked he’s just the “big, dumb animal” on the other end of the leash from the highly-trained police dog.

“If he could drive and type, he’d have my job,” Shelton said. “He does everything else. It’s hard to get across how wonderful a resource these animals are.”

“They want to use us, but we can’t be here 24 hours a day,” Shelton said. “We take turns being on call. I know if we doubled the size of the unit, we’d double the numbers, easy. We’d knock a hole in the burglary rates.”

The dogs can run down a fleeing suspect at 25 to 30 miles per hour or track him if he has gotten away.

“They bite, and they hold, and they will not let go until we tell them to,” Shelton said.

Most suspects surrender rather than risk getting chased down or attacked by a dog, Shelton said.

“I haven’t been in a fight in four years,” he said. “Prior to that, I was in the hospital at least once or twice a year and in fights every month while working night shift. Now I can’t pay somebody to run. I can’t even pick a fight. They don’t want it.”

Each K-9 officer carries a “door popper” device that opens the vehicle’s door, allowing the dog to spring from his cage. The dog either will go immediately to the officer’s side or run to perform a task if a command is given.

“My dog has had one street bite — one physical apprehension,” Shelton said. “Everybody else just gives up.”

Shelton said he once sent Bear into a fight between two officers and a drug dealer who had tried to elude them in a car chase.

“The dog bit him once on the shoulder; he screamed like a little girl, and it was done. All it took was a Band-Aid and some Neosporin to fix it. No broken bones. Nobody got hit in the head with a flashlight. No Taser probes or anything,” he said.

The dogs, which tend to be either German shepherds, Belgian Malinois or a mix — Shelton noted Pack looks similar to a husky — hail from Slovakia, where European officers have used dogs in police work for centuries. They are sold at 1 to 1½ years old by a middleman in Kentucky.

The dogs are chosen to fit the handler and eventually develop a strong, possibly lifelong, bond with the officer. Most will retire to live with a handler after seven to nine years on the job.

“When we get them, they are wild,” Shelton said. “He doesn’t know you from Adam, and here you go yanking on his neck and trying to get him to listen to you and do what you tell him to do.

“It’s an uphill battle for several weeks usually, until you develop a bond with that dog, and he understands that you’re No. 1 and he’s No. 2 in the hierarchy, and therefore what you tell him to do is unquestionable.”

Huntsville Police, who boast one of the oldest K-9 units in the country, provide the 13-week training course to Decatur officers free of charge. Afterward, the dogs continue to train a minimum of 16 hours a month and must be recertified annually.

The resulting animals are focused on the job.

“They don’t want to be dressed up and petted,” Swoopes said. “When you do that, you’re confusing your dog. The dogs want to work. They don’t want to be treated like a human.”

He said the bond he shares with Bear is so strong, he passed up a promotion in order to keep working with him. After consideration, the department decided to award Shelton his sergeant’s stripes anyway.

“They live with us, and they come to work with us every day. If I’ve got court, I bring the dog, and he stays in the truck,” Shelton said.

The dogs are more than family pets and more than tools for the job.

“They would die for us in an instant,” Shelton said. Click here to visit the original source of this post

So these police dogs training methods paying off for K9 Officers are rendering results and the testimonials of the Decatur Police department are powerful messages of working relationships between dog and man. The uses of these intelligent pets are both effective and efficient, and the trained dog’s very presence is enough to disarm any malicious intentions.