Handler’s second Dog

When a K9 handler gets a new dog, its usually a difficult transition. Most of the problems I have seen with this happen with the handler who has a very successful run with his first dog. Now he or she is on the second dog, and invariably that new dog falls short in expectation to the first, retired dog. Your first dog fit like a glove, you knew his every body language tell, and the new dog is still a mystery.

Give him time to create new memories for you, give yourself time to learn this new dog. It isn’t about comparison, but rather about embracing what is different and what the new dog has to offer. Sometimes embracing the new dog’s qualities makes the handler feel like the first dog was somehow less in comparison and brings up feelings of guilt. Your first dog made you proud many times, and brought you to this point, so celebrate what he did for you. But give the new one an opportunity to become all he can be for you.

In time, the new dog will fit like that same glove, you will know his every body language tell, and that comfort level and trust will be there, but you have to give it time. I have had 5 personal dogs, and now I can look back and reflect on each of them, for what they were, or are, and like children, I loved them all – sometimes for different things – but nonetheless they made me the trainer I am today.