Training Question – Man Orientation of Aggression

A few months ago I wrote a column about K9 trainers who were know-it-alls……recently I got a private email form a new K9 officer who attended a training course for his dual purpose dog. He was looking for some validation on why his dog had issues engaging on the street after having read my book, Controlled Aggression, he correctly diagnosed that the fact that the in the course the trainer only ever used a sleeve during aggression training might have made his dog to cue only on the sleeve during bitework. The handler asked for the trainer to use a hidden sleeve, but his requests were rebuffed without explanation.

In my opinion, such behavior on the part of the trainer – unwillingness to explain why the hidden sleeve was not ever used in class, and the handler’s stated fear that the instructor will blame the dog’s failure on the handler (the handler hasn’t told the trainer of the failed apprehension as the guy gave up when the dog pursued and simply circled him).

This kind of fearful atmosphere, and unwillingness to see reality for what it is sickens me because ultimately this handler is in danger if his K9 partner cannot be relied upon do do what he needs to do. Exascerbating the issue is the unwillingness to confront the problem by the trainer, and the handler’s fear of being targeted as the problem child (probably a very real fear as many trainers, rather than owning up to problems, take the easy way out and blame the handler). This dog should be remediated asap, and the dog probably could be fixed – but doing more of the same and expecting a different outcome is the definition of lunacy.

Trainers who tie their egos to their methods need to be drummed out of this business – whether they work for a PD as a trainer or are private….remediate and then if necessary replace a dog if it isn’t working – you have a responsibility to the K9 handler and his family to do so. Many times it is simply that the dog hasn’t been given the proper training to make him civilly aggressive enough to be a police dog – and so maybe the Know-it-all needs to update his knowledge.