1. #1
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    K9 Handler and Families

    I would love to hear your all experiences with family (wife, kids, extended family coming over, etc.) and your K9 partner. I want to become a k9 handler one day, but plan on having kids in the future, so I wanted to hear some feedback on your experiences and any advice you all might have. Do you use a muzzle at home? What about a new baby? Any websites you want to point me too also would be great. Thanks guys. Keep up the good work.

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    It depends on the dog. Some dogs are gentle as labradors and can be around anyone. Some are as mean as rattlesnakes. I have a mean as a rattlesnake dog. Even after some time my girlfriend, who has been around since he came, cannot pet my dog without a muzzle. So far only me and the trainer are able to pet or be around my dog at all. He's not at the end of the leash after everyone or anything but knowing he's so agressive I am careful how I handle him. I never use a muzzle at home and only use it for vet visits and to take him in the office occasionally. I do know the majority of Mal's and Germ Shep's are not quite so agressive and you generally only have to worry about the normal circumstances where a dog might bite, such as a kid pulling his ears or bothering them.

    One cant really say what temperment a dog will have or might come to until you have him/her. You'll know what limits you have when you get your dog. Any dog is dangerous to a new baby. Dogs dont like a lot of kids for several reasons. One they have a smell and two they are eye level with the dog, and three they tend to badger and pester a dog in his opinion. A working dog tends to have a bit more of a dominant side than the average yard dog so caution around children would always be the safest side.

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    The best policy wheather it be a lab, mal or shep is to keep them outside IMO in an above ground kennel or chainlink kennel. Family can walk by and say hi, maybe fill up water bowl and throw a bowl of food in if I'm gone but thats it. These dogs are working dogs not family dogs. The reason my dad got the spot for K9 back in the day was becasue the previous handler had the shep around his 8 yoa kid and bit him in the face so he gave up the dog. These dogs are a tool just like a gun and we dont let all of our family members touch our full auto AR15, do we? Only the handler interects with the dog and that is it, then there is no need to worry.

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    As with any animal there is a sense of unpredictability, even with the best trained. There are so many variables involved as in what type of breed and just the personality of the dog.

    I am not a handler but have worked very close with our unit. Some guys are comfortable and able to have their K9 interact with the family, and others have to kennel the dog when home. Even the ones that are able to roam free at the handler's home have bitten a spouse before, it happens. You have to accept that, and realize like others have said, the dog is a tool. The department does not purchase the dog for you to take home and play with the kids and look nice in the car.

    No website can prepare you for being a handler, it's a hands on experience. Like other things in life you either have it or you don't. I have seen guys who think it would be "cool" to be a K9 handler, but when you ask them to lay a track or catch a dog they walk the other way. This is because they are lazy, scared or both.
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    Thanks for the great responses. I just wanted to hear what was normal for K9 handlers and their families. Duh...obviously it depends on the dog, I guess I wasn't think that all the way through. One other question if you want to answer, what advice would you give someone just getting into law enforcement who would like to be a handler some day (ie. how to make oneself stand out above the other officers for the job or what the dept. might be looking for in their handlers)? Thanks all.

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    The best thing you can do is offer your help to the K9 team. Even if it is on ur days off. If you really want to be a handler it will be fun anyways. Impress them with your knowledge of case law as it relates to K9. Use of force knowledge, K9 policy and procedure etc. Most imporantly ask the handlers on ur department!
    "In valor there is hope"

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    Learn as much as you can, from as many different sources as possible. If working dogs is what you really want to do, immerse yourself in it, and be a sponge. Go to as many working dog related trials as possible, and link up with some LE and non LE trainers and absorb everything you can and develop your own opinions. There are a lot of good and bad out there, and sorting through what is valid, and what is not, is sometimes difficult. Learn all you can, by attending a decoy school (even if you pay out of pocket), learn a little about tracking, detection, obedience, behavior, everything you can.

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    Like these guys said, go get involved with your current handlers. I see so many guys who think its so cool to send a dog out after a suspect or sniff out some dope. This like all things is just the glory of things. There is a lot of time and work involved the rest of the time. So many good dogs are with some handler who hasnt done anything with the dog since they got it because it does take a lot of time. Its not work like breaking rocks or anything but going out and hiding aids and running them. Practicing a track or bite work is time consuming. I promise your current handlers are always in need of someone to help out with these things and will welcome your help. Once they see your serious they'll steer you in the directions you need to take as well as put in a word for you when the next opening comes up.

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    I have a quick question. What if you currently own 2 dogs (labs) now, and your trying to get into K9. Are you allow to have pets and a K9 partner, or is it up to the Department you work for?

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    I have a mal that is the most gentle dog out there. He is a single purpose drug as well as tracking dog. He knows what the sleeve and bite suit are and we let him hit it just like the apprehension dogs because he loves it. He however just does not have the aggression to be an apprehension dog. Now that being said, my wife laid down on the floor one day to watch a movie and he walked into the room. Guess what happened? She got her *** handed to her by my gentle mal. There is something about being lower than him that fired him up. I learned a valuable lesson from this.... caution.

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    I have a dual purpose mal that has great temperment. There are a few people that she just doesn't like but none in my family. She's a great dog and haven't had any accidents but like everyone said, unpredictability is always there. I would trust my dog at home alone with my 6 year old daughter (no I don't leave her alone, I'm just saying) and wouldn't think nothing about it. They are pack animals and will always try to move up in rank. The problem with being a handler is you never know what kind of dog your going to get until you get it. The most gentle and timid dogs can turn into hell raisers out of nowhere.

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    I have read the threat with interest and there have been some very interesting points raised.....firstly a working police dog is no different than a family pet, no dog however trusted, even a foo foo lap dog should be allowed unsupervised around children (I understand Trinic, I feel the same way about my GSD around my grandson...). I believe that generally your dog should not be isolated from the family (in some cases you have got what your given but stick with me here), he should be kennelled outside and there he has his retreat, but he should never be considered as just another piece of kit, he isn't and his inclusion in the the family is in my view essencial to maintaining a balance in temprement.

    We hear so much about aggression, but it's a fact that a good civilian police dog does not need to be over aggressive, it's a myth, there is nothing cool, efficient or good with handling an over aggressive dog. It makes for a poor performance in the other 80%+ of other duties not related to criminal apprehension, and a headache for the handler and family. As I said generally as a handler you are presented with a dog but it's for the provider to ensure initially that your dog is of a sound and well rounded disposition. I speak from the position of being forced to handle early in my career a number of over aggressive dogs, in which a high work load in civil disorder and violent crime did nothing to address. I missed a lot of what dog handling was all about....
    Finally larger breeds for dogs (Mals and GSD) that are selected for single purpose duties do not under any circumatances put them on a sleeve and do aggression work, European dogs have been extensively tested and are not necessarily suitable, I have seen a number of Malinois purchased as single purpose dogs but in whom handlers have decided to introduce the bite which has turned the dog very anti social.................
    "That's funny, he's never done that before!"

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    "A working police dog is not different than a family pet?" IMO that statement I would disagree with 100%. They are not a family pet and the department did not spend thousands of dollars for you to have a dog the family feeds popcorn too while you all watch TV on a Saturday night. They are a tool. They track, bite find dope or whatever else they do, when you expose them to the family: the family lab they realize it's more fun to play with Bill the lab than work. As a trainer I have seen team after team come back for training with numerous problems. When asked the dog stays inside and is a family pet. Once they stop that activity the work goes back to where it should be. I would say from seeing teams from several states that less than half of the teams out there actually suceed in tracks, bites and fining dope. Most just get the dog, say I'm cool and don't do jack and are afraid to get called out cause they can't track and do other things.

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    If you read my reply carefully that is not what I said, I am refering to the animal needs, I in no way suggest that you should house your dog in the house or feed him human comfort food. But to isolate the dog to a 12 foot compound for the best part of the day when not working is simply doing his temprement little good. I think you have got the wrong end of the stick, as for your comment concerning success in operational deployment that is a matter of training, which is as your are aware is conducted on the training field and not in a coffee shop talking about it...A drop in standard (performance) is generally down to the lack of training and commitment by the handler
    The hardest thing for some handlers is the actual walk to the compound to get the dog out and go do some training......
    As for being a tool, that is a position I would suggest is one you have been advised to take and not based on experience, however you are intitled to your view, there are as they say 'men with dogs and then their are dog handlers'........
    Last edited by Eurodog; 12-12-2010 at 09:11 PM.
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    When the dog is not working where is he supposed to go, and how is staying in the pen going to be a factor on his attitude? Are you supposed to go on walks with the dog, jog, play fetch at the park and read books together? Not to be an a**, but they are working dogs and having a true patrol dog that will bite a passive suspect is what all of wish for. To have a dog thats gonna do that he is on the edge, not crazy but on the edge. Thats the reason why most sport dogs over seas that become police dogs are the ones who score lower because they are dirty and don't do a simple bark and hold they jump and down and are in your face ready to rock n roll with spit flying and the intensity like none other.

    Euro, we have completely different mind sets on dogs. I am not looking into the animal concerns such as love and affection and the other stuff. I am concerned about the work and bringing him to the next level.
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    Euro, we have completely different mind sets on dogs. I am not looking into the animal concerns such as love and affection and the other stuff. I am concerned about the work and bringing him to the next level.[/QUOTE]

    Two horses pulling the same cart dude................
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    Quote Originally Posted by trinic View Post
    I have a dual purpose mal that has great temperment. There are a few people that she just doesn't like but none in my family. She's a great dog and haven't had any accidents but like everyone said, unpredictability is always there. I would trust my dog at home alone with my 6 year old daughter (no I don't leave her alone, I'm just saying) and wouldn't think nothing about it. They are pack animals and will always try to move up in rank. The problem with being a handler is you never know what kind of dog your going to get until you get it. The most gentle and timid dogs can turn into hell raisers out of nowhere.
    Thats their natural pack mentallity. All dogs are of a nature to run in a pack and establish a pecking order. Look at wolves in the wild. The leader will be above the rest most of the time. Others will duck their heads when he stands next to them or challenges them. Try looking your dog in the eyes and he'll look away. He see's you as the pack leader. Your wife being on the ground was an opportunity to him to assert his place above her.

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    All of you have very valid points. I think Euro is trying to say is that a canine is not just a tool. It is a living / breathing animal. It is not like a gun you can take out of your holster and throw in a gun safe for three days until you come back on duty. The canine needs attention, care and exercise. I know of handlers that have to work their dog and a regular basis, because their canine will rip its foot pads off while kenneled because it is constantly spinning in its kennel. I couldn’t imagine keeping my canine kenneled for three days and then deploying it the first hour of my shift. My canine would go nuts. Remember at the end of the day, these so called tools are still living breathing animals that need praise and attention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VucuK9 View Post
    All of you have very valid points. I think Euro is trying to say is that a canine is not just a tool. It is a living / breathing animal. It is not like a gun you can take out of your holster and throw in a gun safe for three days until you come back on duty. The canine needs attention, care and exercise. I know of handlers that have to work their dog and a regular basis, because their canine will rip its foot pads off while kenneled because it is constantly spinning in its kennel. I couldn’t imagine keeping my canine kenneled for three days and then deploying it the first hour of my shift. My canine would go nuts. Remember at the end of the day, these so called tools are still living breathing animals that need praise and attention.
    Very much agreed. My department specifically sought out a Malinois with a good balance between high drive and sociability. Demonstrations and "meet & greets" are far more common for our K-9 unit than actual apprehensions. My Mal has an indoor kennel for sleeping and for when we're not home, but he is allowed to have supervised free time inside the house when we are home (no kids yet, our first is on the way). He has very high play and pack drives and spends plenty of time playing with our other two dogs. He's typically kenneled or otherwise restrained when we have company in the house except for a very few people who have earned the dog's trust. My dog's energy level is so high that if I kenneled him away from any human interaction for two-three days, he would be nearly unmanageable by the time I opened the kennel door. He needs a lot of attention and exercise to maintain his balance.

    That said, he's almost a completely different dog when it's time to go to work. His prey drive is off the chart. I would put him up against any single-purpose dog when it comes to dope work and I have absolutely no doubt, based upon experience, that he will engage a man with serious intensity. I'll admit that he's not perfect (tracking is not his strong suit, but he has successfully tracked on the street), but he certifies every year. And he does all that without being "on the edge." There's a reason that we call work dogs "command dogs." The idea is that the dog isn't mean and isn't crazy. They bite because we command them to do it. IMHO, the best police dog is one who can go to a demo and greet children one minute, get called out, and track and apprehend a suspect the next.
    "The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep." -Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

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    Well said, farenheit.

    In my humble opinion, a dog that is bonded with it's handler and trusts you will work harder to please you, and let's not forget: you are a team. Animals are not machines, and a dog needs social interaction...people wonder why they have a "crazy dog" that can't be let out of it's kennel, and becomes self destructive..many times a good dog is "created" by this isolation. (These dogs need a lot of stimulation, and will often become self-stimulating/self rewarding when left to their own devices) Lots of conflicting opinions on this, but you have got to know your individual dog, it's needs, and limitations. I'm sure there are some dogs that can't operate in a home environment, but then again, are these the dogs that make the best police dogs, for what most departments need? It is also obvious of course that you have to be cautious with any animal, not just a working animal. If your dog is not stable enough in a low stress, comfortable environment of the home with it's handler, how do you expect it to be stable when working around the public? Let's not forget, these are not perimeter protection dogs. They are modern police dogs, which are part teeth, part nose, and a huge portion of public relations.
    My Mal is off the charts, but he's incredibly social, and has an "off" switch. His bloodlines (Perle De Tourbiere) have been promoting this for years. That's just the dog I want...Social, but when he comes out of the gate, it's go time with great intensity.
    Last edited by Tim Connell NH; 12-21-2010 at 06:47 PM.

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    I get the idea of what people are saying. Just my opinion but I know my dogs loves to go to work. If I even rattle my keys he jumps up and circles at the door hoping we are going to work. But I also feel that he needs time to just bound around in the yard, bark at the neighbors dog, and just be a dog. If all they do is live in a kennel and a car it must have some negative impact. My dog acts pretty well like any old dog when he's in the backyard and I feel like he enjoys it. He gets to take it easy and relax and I know thats good for anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HCSO511 View Post
    I get the idea of what people are saying. Just my opinion but I know my dogs loves to go to work. If I even rattle my keys he jumps up and circles at the door hoping we are going to work. But I also feel that he needs time to just bound around in the yard, bark at the neighbors dog, and just be a dog. If all they do is live in a kennel and a car it must have some negative impact. My dog acts pretty well like any old dog when he's in the backyard and I feel like he enjoys it. He gets to take it easy and relax and I know thats good for anything.
    ..............and that's the point exactly, it makes him a well balanced working dog. There is no 'edge' there is just the training standard, and socialization is also one part of the training that maintains the standard of a good civilian police dog........
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    i told my husband his belgian is not to be trained to be mean.right now hes real sweet.my husband has talked about just training Ranger for drug detection only.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cops-wife View Post
    i told my husband his belgian is not to be trained to be mean.right now hes real sweet.my husband has talked about just training Ranger for drug detection only.
    If you read some of the posts above, you'll see that there is no reason why a dual-purpose or patrol dog can't be social and even friendly in a family setting. The ideal police dog isn't "trained to be mean," he is trained to bite on command and release on command. He's not mean, he's following a command.
    "The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep." -Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

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