Question about becoming a k9 handler. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2018, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Question about becoming a k9 handler.

I hope this question doesn't seem too silly but it's a question I've thought about for a while now. I am a college

student getting my associates degree in criminal justice after having switched my degree of being a vet tech. So.

My goal has always been to become one of the very few female k9 officers out there. Now my question is..does

having any previous experience working with high drive dogs give you any special advantage at getting chosen?

For example if someone who has done IPO or has done PPD training for quite a while have any advantage over

the person who has zero experience with high drive dogs? Just curious.....
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2018, 11:44 PM
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You might want to run that question by your local PD's K9 unit. Basically what you are asking is "What's the criteria?"
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2018, 07:59 AM
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We have various law enforcement officers on this forum, they may be able to offer some insight.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2018, 09:10 AM
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From what I have heard from handler friends, with some departments/levels (county state fed) it can be very political too. Who you know vs what you know. Good luck, would be a dream job to me

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2018, 10:03 AM
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How handlers are chosen is going to be different depending on the size of the department/program and the potential politics involved.

Having previous experience is always a plus.

Having an exemplary record as an officer is probably more important. Your verbal and written communication skills are very important. There is quite a bit of extra work that goes along with being a handler. Your training records may come under scrutiny in court. You need to make sound decisions about the safety of your dog and the public on a regular basis.

A good handler is made up of a good cop with the capacity to take on 30% more workload and responsibility who loves the job enough to put up with the negatives that go along with having a K9 partner.

You may also miss out on classes/training opportunities because you can't be taken out of rotation. Your peers may get promoted ahead of you. Getting time off may be more difficult, particularly in a small department.

All that being said, bring a handler has been the most rewarding experience of my life and I would definitely choose that path again.

I'm sure the patrol officers will come in here and add or correct me. I was a military handler and LE/MIL trainer. I have no experience as a Law Enforcement handler.

If you choose to pursue this career, concentrate on being the best Officer you can be. Always do your best and pick the hard right over the easy wrong. There really are no short cuts in the working dog world. Being a proficient handler is but a small, and rather easy, part of the whole.

When a dog saves the life of a man, it becomes clear that partnership knows no bounds.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-04-2018, 03:04 PM
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@Bella99,

David has given you an excellent response.

I am currently a K-9 Handler and our units K-9 trainer. IMHO, being a handler is the best job on the Police Department. It is also the most dangerous job a Police Officer can have.

I did IPO for many years before becoming a K-9 handler and I believe my IPO experience has helped me in my dog handling and training skills. With that said, IPO and LE K-9 handling and training are very different.

My advice is similar to David's, first you need to be a good cop, hard working with no use of force issues. You need to be respected by your peers and your supervisors. We look at 3 years worth of Performance evals, IA complaints, and have an oral interview board. Then we have a PT test and each prospective handler must get in the bite suit and take downfields from several dogs. The applicant must be able to get knocked down by a K-9 and get back up and continue to work the dog. This eliminates some candidates from the testing process.

IPO experience will help you handle a dog, but it is not a big factor in the decision making process.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-04-2018, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CometDog View Post
From what I have heard from handler friends, with some departments/levels (county state fed) it can be very political too. Who you know vs what you know. Good luck, would be a dream job to me
I think on the surface it sounds like a dream job, but I think there are aspects that could make it a nightmare too. I would most likey become attached and sending the dog in harms way might be difficult in some situations. Even sniffing out drugs can have potential risks. The dogs get punched, kicked, and much much worse, maybe not all the time, but it happens.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-04-2018, 05:26 PM
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I think on the surface it sounds like a dream job, but I think there are aspects that could make it a nightmare too. I would most likey become attached and sending the dog in harms way might be difficult in some situations. Even sniffing out drugs can have potential risks. The dogs get punched, kicked, and much much worse, maybe not all the time, but it happens.
It's not the job for everyone, then again being a Police Officer is not the job for everyone. Yup, it is a very dangerous job for both the handler and the dog. My previous K-9, Boomer was punched and kicked a few times while apprehending suspects. It didn't slow him down or deter, quite the opposite it. It enraged him and he fought harder. That dog stepped up a number of times and took the fight out of some very violent individuals. He certainly saved me from being badly hurt more than once and he actually lessened injuries to suspects by gaining compliance so quickly.

A good K-9 handler absolutely gets attached to their dog. I raised Boomer from a 7 week old pup, trained and donated him to my PD. You don't get much closer to a dog than that. We had some perilous moments together, especially working him on the SWAT team. Part of what made Boomer a great patrol dog and the same with my current dog is their temperament, strength, confidence and ability to react violently when needed with out hesitation. This is why we take so much time to select the right dogs and Lassie would be a terrible patrol dog.

There are risks when searching cars for narcotics, augmented with the opioid epidemic and fentanyl use. We have had Officers OD after searching a car and a tiny amount of fentanyl was in the air. A K-9 could easily be after as well. We rarely use the dogs to search the interiors of cars of suspected Heroin dealers or users.

No doubt the job is dangerous for our K-9's, but they perform a very important role in Police work. The dogs keep us safer and keep our citizens safer too. Utilizing a well trained dogs exceptional sense of smell, hearing and eyesight to our advantage definitely keeps us all safe.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-04-2018, 05:55 PM
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My goal has always been to become one of the very few female k9 officers out there. .....
I can't speak on your question as I am not involved in police work (looks like you got some awesome advice here from those that are.) Just wanted to say go girl!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-07-2018, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Slamdunc View Post
It's not the job for everyone, then again being a Police Officer is not the job for everyone. Yup, it is a very dangerous job for both the handler and the dog. My previous K-9, Boomer was punched and kicked a few times while apprehending suspects. It didn't slow him down or deter, quite the opposite it. It enraged him and he fought harder. That dog stepped up a number of times and took the fight out of some very violent individuals. He certainly saved me from being badly hurt more than once and he actually lessened injuries to suspects by gaining compliance so quickly.

A good K-9 handler absolutely gets attached to their dog. I raised Boomer from a 7 week old pup, trained and donated him to my PD. You don't get much closer to a dog than that. We had some perilous moments together, especially working him on the SWAT team. Part of what made Boomer a great patrol dog and the same with my current dog is their temperament, strength, confidence and ability to react violently when needed with out hesitation. This is why we take so much time to select the right dogs and Lassie would be a terrible patrol dog.

There are risks when searching cars for narcotics, augmented with the opioid epidemic and fentanyl use. We have had Officers OD after searching a car and a tiny amount of fentanyl was in the air. A K-9 could easily be after as well. We rarely use the dogs to search the interiors of cars of suspected Heroin dealers or users.

No doubt the job is dangerous for our K-9's, but they perform a very important role in Police work. The dogs keep us safer and keep our citizens safer too. Utilizing a well trained dogs exceptional sense of smell, hearing and eyesight to our advantage definitely keeps us all safe.
I've never had a problem putting myself in harms way, but my dogs are a different story, I do what I can to keep them safe for the most part. We do take risks, however the outcome is based on the decisions we make and not those of the criminal element trying desperately to evade police.

When I'm felling 100+ foot trees that weigh thousands of lbs I know where it's going to go and where to place my dogs for safety. You can't make those same "calculations" with people as the risks go up exponentially. The right dog properly trained will most likely go on to lead a full productive life as a K9 and I know a few in our sheriffs department that have recently done just that, but the sad reality is some won't. People need to fully appreciate what the costs are for this type of work for both K9 and handler.
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