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Discussion Starter #1
I couldn't find a venting forum, and just had to share this, so I am posting it here.

Yesterday I was at a dog benefit type event, where a police K9 demonstration was a scheduled attraction. On tap were two sherrifs and two Malinois.

Believe me when I tell you that I almost lost my cookies when it became quite obvious that one of the dogs could not be called off on command. As a trainer myself experienced at K9 protection work, I simply could not believe that this dog was active in the field.

While some people might think, "Who cares, because any crook that has a K9 let loose on them deserves all they get," consider the fate of an innocent citizen if such a dog were to make a mistake and target the wrong person. Worse yet, consider the fate of such a dog that were to make such a mistake. In fact, recently in my area, a K9 was shot to death because when sent after an alleged criminal, the dog latched onto an officer instead, by mistake. The dog could not be stopped and was eventually shot and killed.

While I know better than to cast blame on a handler, and I really want to blame the crappy trainers for such shoddy work, I guess the real blame lies with whomever is responsible for retaining the services of these inept trainers. I mean, maybe it's just me, but I can call my dog off of ANYTHING, a bite, a chasing of wildlife, whatever. To not be able to control a dog, especially a K9, is just downright unfathomable and irresponsible.

Thanks for providing a place for me to vent. And, now back to your normally scheduled programming....:eek:
 

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We have been involved in K9 work for many years. This is a new trend that makes us crazy. We have to insist they teach a hold and bark and give the example of the cop during his first week with his new K9 (that we trained and sold to them) who was called to a business for a break in very late at night. The cop and K9 go into the unlocked front door and the cop sends the dog to search, less than a minute later the cop hears the dog barking and runs to a back room to see the dog doing a hold and bark on a terrified young lady. Seems she was part of the cleaning crew and had put the wrong code in the security system when she came in and didn't realize she had tripped the alarm. She was wearing ear phones and didn't hear the cop announce himself when he came in. Thank goodness she wasn't maimed as she most certainly would be by most of the dogs we see nowadays.
 

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Back when most of my dogs were pretty well trained, I was training regularly in the sherriff's department parking lot.

One day a K9 charged at me or my dog, not sure which, as its handler and he were going for the door. It took several of the deputies to catch him and get him under control. A voice command was not going to work. (I kept my dog walking in the opposite direction, and then turned in front of him to watch.)

A couple of months later, one of the deputies saw me working my dog there again and told me I had to leave. That I couldn't train my dogs there.

The reason I do, is it is a huge, well lighted parking lot, completely empty after hours and 3/4s fenced. It is a great place for dog training. It is also county property, and as I am a tax payer in this county, I am paying for those lights and pavement.

The officer mentioned the fairgrounds, which I do use in the day, but not at night -- too remote and not well lighted, not safe for me to be down there alone regularly.

I got huffy, and he got nasty, and he said that maybe I would not be able to control my dog. What a JOKE!!! I can and have called my dog off of chasing down a rabbit she kicked up on a walk.

I ended up calling the sherriff's department and getting permission for training out there -- the whole area is not enclosed. There is a jail, but it is not surrounded by fencing. It is a thoroughfare and people from the bar and sherriffs all park in the lower lot. The upper lot is totally empty and fills up with courthouse traffic during the day time.

What is disturbing in your story is that they took the dog to demonstrations with the public. One would think they would be out with their brightest and best.
 

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thats not only dangerous and ignorant its asking for a lawsuit. What good is a K9 that cant be called off when they should be? I would expect the dog to obey the call off without question whatsoever and i would make sure to file a complaint had i been witness to that demonstration. A dog that cant be called off is a hazard.
 

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Don't think this is meant to be in any way snarky, but perhaps more members of this board should become more involved with your local law enforcement. With the modern trends in community relations there are more and more ways a citizen can work with the police. This results in the ability to give feedback as well as understand the police better to see if there really is a problem or if the problem is as severe as you thought it was.

A good example of how you might be able to help is that we all know it is difficult to train a canine to respond to commands with a strange dog nearby if they always know all the dogs at training. Since your dog is trained to follow commands with lots of distractions perhaps you should make up a resume and send it to the head of their canine unit as an offer to volunteer to come in as a practice distraction near the training area for their dogs (I have been a practice distraction with my pipe band for a mounted patrol). Once you break the ice and they get to know you there might be some ways you can change attitudes. You can't change them from outside.
 

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We had a similar situation as described above happen in our community. A robber had broken into a coin shop and a deputy called in for back up. A K-9 officer arrived on the scene just in time to see the thief and deputy in foot pursuit. The K-9 chased, but keyed in on the officer instead. He took a chunk out of the deputy's bottom before releasing and going after the correct bad guy. Shortly thereafter, there was a mandatory class for all of the Sheriff's department to explain how K-9's work. They aren't trained on scent as much of Hollywood would have us to believe. They are trained on crushed foliage for pursuits. It was very interesting, but I still felt pretty bad for the deputy who had to get stitches in his bum.
 

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Mr. Leadfoot, Your post is a great part of our "normally scheduled programming." The situation you describe might also have been the result of a poor choice of dogs for K-9 work--not enough natural obedience and too short of a fuse in their inherited temperament, in addition to the inadequate training you mentioned. Perhaps we (GSD loving taxpayers) should be influencing our law enforcement organizations to acquire properly bred GSDs with nice, well-balanced temperaments.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What is disturbing in your story is that they took the dog to demonstrations with the public. One would think they would be out with their brightest and best.
You know what? I think those dogs WERE the best they have, which is why they chose them for the demo. And, THAT'S even scarier!

My current dog can sit at a heel off-leash, and I can have an agitator come up flailing arms and legs and yelling, and my dog will maintain her Stay. And, even if the agitator is dressed in bite protection gear, which my dog is very familiar with, she will not just jump all over him, even though he looks like a big tug toy. And, when she is issued her "take him out" command, I can call her off with a simple command, without even raising my voice.

These sheriffs were grabbing the leash, popping it several times, and even physically prying the dog off. There were times when the decoy had to drop his sleeve, and the dog would be pulled away with it in its mouth, and continue to be so focused at shredding the sleeve, it ended up completely oblivious to anything around it, inlcuding all the people and the handler! I'm thinking that in real life that dog could easily be killed in a situation where a perp might slither out of a jacket the dog has a bite on, and then beat it over the head with something.

I can't even envision how this dog would help in a real life situation. I would think the handler and other LEOs would end up being distracted by worrying about what the dog does, or does not do, in a real-life situation, you know what I mean?

Suffice it to say that the people responsible for the training of this dog are putting everyone, including the dog, at a great risk. And, to think this dog could in fact be one of the best this particular department has to offer! Yikes! :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Mr. Leadfoot, Your post is a great part of our "normally scheduled programming." The situation you describe might also have been the result of a poor choice of dogs for K-9 work--not enough natural obedience and too short of a fuse in their inherited temperament, in addition to the inadequate training you mentioned. Perhaps we (GSD loving taxpayers) should be influencing our law enforcement organizations to acquire properly bred GSDs with nice, well-balanced temperaments.
I could see that these dogs were good dogs, and they were trained in a way that made biting fun for them. I could see it in the dog's faces, and hear it in their barking. This was clearly not a matter of temperament in this particular case. These dogs were not mean or aggressive at all. They were trained with the "biting is fun" method, which is common in K9 work these days.

So, nothing I saw indicated anything wrong with the selection process, or the bite training. But, it was clear to me that the trainer(s) were lacking something in their program. As a trainer myself, I know that every dog is different. Some dogs require more work in some areas. For example, I've encountered dogs that are so eager to bite they "should" be trained on the "out" command before they are taught to bite, while other dogs should be worked on bites before the "out" command so as not to inhibit their fight drive.

The only thing that makes logical sense to me about this is that maybe the department has time-lines to meet, budget issues, or even pressure from bureaucrats, and maybe just needs to get dogs in the field, even if it is the wrong way - inexperienced trainers, rushing to "market", whatever. Regardless, I can't help but think how having dogs like this in field is not going to end up badly in some way for someone, or the dog.

Part of the reason I posted the recount of the event was to let everyone else here know what's out there. I donn't know about anyone else, but it sure has me thinking that I should formulate a plan now for what to do should I ever find myself in the vicinity of a working K9, and what to do should if that K9 mistakenly shift focus onto me.:help:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Don't think this is meant to be in any way snarky, but perhaps more members of this board should become more involved with your local law enforcement. With the modern trends in community relations there are more and more ways a citizen can work with the police. This results in the ability to give feedback as well as understand the police better to see if there really is a problem or if the problem is as severe as you thought it was.

A good example of how you might be able to help is that we all know it is difficult to train a canine to respond to commands with a strange dog nearby if they always know all the dogs at training. Since your dog is trained to follow commands with lots of distractions perhaps you should make up a resume and send it to the head of their canine unit as an offer to volunteer to come in as a practice distraction near the training area for their dogs (I have been a practice distraction with my pipe band for a mounted patrol). Once you break the ice and they get to know you there might be some ways you can change attitudes. You can't change them from outside.
Actually not snarky at all, and a rather good suggestion. :)

I've actually thought about this, but my experience shows that often people in these circles can be quite uppity, and have "holier than thou" attitudes. But, perhaps a letter to someone not directly involved with these matters, maybe even higher up than the unit itself, possibly someone who regularly interfaces with the public, might be a good target for a document the likes of what you describe. I'll think about it. Maybe a job change is in order. ;)
 

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In fact, recently in my area, a K9 was shot to death because when sent after an alleged criminal, the dog latched onto an officer instead, by mistake. The dog could not be stopped and was eventually shot and killed.
Are you referring to this incident in Alameda or was there another one near you? K-9 Bites Cop During Burglary Call - PoliceLink

This is actually very near me, Alameda is my home town, where I was born, and lived for 27 years.
 

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I've actually thought about this, but my experience shows that often people in these circles can be quite uppity, and have "holier than thou" attitudes. But, perhaps a letter to someone not directly involved with these matters, maybe even higher up than the unit itself, possibly someone who regularly interfaces with the public, might be a good target for a document the likes of what you describe. I'll think about it. Maybe a job change is in order. ;)
Be careful, law enforcement is addictive.:) I hope your area is as good with the public as where I am. If you can do a ride along in your area they might have a K-9 officer that you could ride with.
 

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The lack of reliable "out" commands is something that was recently covered in K-9 Cop magazine. I believe I just talked about that in another thread on this same forum.

I think a lot of departments are so focused on getting the dogs to bite that training the dogs to out and working on solid, basic obedience sometimes takes a back seat. It's a shame, but that's what it is in a lot of places.
 

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working on solid, basic obedience sometimes takes a back seat.
I think that might be why some Iron Dog events are opening to civilians. The obedient dogs doing so well will get trainers that are too heavy on the bite to take notice.
 

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We have been involved in K9 work for many years. This is a new trend that makes us crazy. We have to insist they teach a hold and bark and give the example of the cop during his first week with his new K9 (that we trained and sold to them) who was called to a business for a break in very late at night. The cop and K9 go into the unlocked front door and the cop sends the dog to search, less than a minute later the cop hears the dog barking and runs to a back room to see the dog doing a hold and bark on a terrified young lady. Seems she was part of the cleaning crew and had put the wrong code in the security system when she came in and didn't realize she had tripped the alarm. She was wearing ear phones and didn't hear the cop announce himself when he came in. Thank goodness she wasn't maimed as she most certainly would be by most of the dogs we see nowadays.
Only problem with that approach (hold and bark) would be if the dog tried it with a perp who has a gun - quickly have one dead dog! This is what one police dog trainer once told me - his dogs also would not "out" on command and had to be physically removed from the bad guy.

Could be a problem also, obviously, this way if the dog latches on the wrong person but the other way could be a problem for the dog and also the handler.

No perfect solution I guess!

Remember that these dogs and handlers are facing a life and death situation ofttimes and not a sport situation where they might just get a bad score.
 

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I think that might be why some Iron Dog events are opening to civilians. The obedient dogs doing so well will get trainers that are too heavy on the bite to take notice.
While I'd like to think that's the case, I doubt it.

The one I competed in only had one event where the dog had to get a bite AND be called off by the handler with no physical contact between dog and handler, and that was the building search, which was for law enforcement only. (They did let Ronja and I do it, however.) AFAIK, all but one of the dogs did out when told to by the handler and return to the handler, except one. The one dog in question was new to his handler, having only been partnered with him for two weeks, if memory serves.
 

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That's pretty scary to bring a dog that has an unreliable 'out' to a public demonstration! Dogs and handlers make mistakes, you need to be able to get the dog off of someone without physical interference in case a mistake happens. If the dog bites the wrong person, you shouldn't be wrestling your dog off of them while the criminal is busy running away.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Are you referring to this incident in Alameda or was there another one near you? K-9 Bites Cop During Burglary Call - PoliceLink

This is actually very near me, Alameda is my home town, where I was born, and lived for 27 years.
Yep, that's the one. Sad, isn't it? Especially since the dog was just having fun, at least that's a common method for teaching bites. I bet she shot the dog because she was just so scared because she did not KNOW how K9s work. I think someone else posted a comment on this thread about how other LEOs should be educated on K9s, too, just so that stuff like this can be prevented. Or, the dogs could get the proper training! :eek:
 

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I am in So Cal, and at the Safety Expo they have Search and Rescue, and bomb sniffing dogs, all the dogs were friendly and well behaved. I volunteered to be the one the dog searched for as part of the demostration. The dog did what he was trained to do, which was find me, and I got to play with him. He was a Chocolate Lab and a total sweetheart,
 

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Only problem with that approach (hold and bark) would be if the dog tried it with a perp who has a gun - quickly have one dead dog! This is what one police dog trainer once told me - his dogs also would not "out" on command and had to be physically removed from the bad guy.
Yeah, this is the common response from someone who doesn't know how to train a hold and bark. We hear it a lot and have disproven it in many demonstrations.
If the bad guy makes a move as though to lift a weapon or strike out, whatever, the bite is on. We have shown multiple times that even the fastest human we've run across is nowhere near as fast as your average GSD, Mal, what have you. Now try it with a dog that has had actual training.

Not outing on command? Crap training, no other way to say it, sorry, I won't buy any other redneck excuse.
 
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