On Tuesday, August 7 I attended a police/military¬†K-9 demonstration¬†presented by the¬†Point Pleasant Police Department and¬†Allenhurst Police Department at the¬†National Night Out¬†against¬†crime in Allenhurst, NJ.
One of the common sales hooks some dog trainers use when owners are searching for¬†qualified candidates is “I trained military and police dogs,” to explain why they use prong collars, choke collars¬†or fear and intimidation¬†to train.
As an attendee at the K-9 demonstration one would have expected to¬†observe lots of leash corrections, machismo commands,¬†or prong/shock collars as part of the presentation. Instead, I saw¬†lots of tennis balls, rope toys and¬†tons of affection as rewards for jobs well-done in the areas of drug sniffing, bomb¬†detection and criminal apprehension.
I’ve spent the good part of a nearly 15-year career in canine obedience educating the public on why it’s so unnecessary to use¬†alpha- and dominance-based techniques¬†to train, and why the whole police and military dog training excuse for using¬†such methods¬†is just that … an excuse.
Sitting in the grass next to me during the demonstration was a group of young children with their parents. It was delightful to hear and see their¬†glee as they took¬†pleasure in watching these dogs have so much fun¬†working with their partners.
The¬†bond these dogs had with their handlers was¬†most certainly love and the crowd felt it. It was obvious to any onlooker that¬†these K-9 officers thought these guys were the greatest playmates on the planet. I believe the feeling was mutual, given the¬†level of adoration the police officers displayed in kind toward their partners (dogs).
I would like to extend my deepest¬†levels of gratitude to the Point Pleasant Police Department and Allenhurst Police Department for putting on this much-needed demonstration, explaining the important role that toys play in their training programs, and why it’s so unnecessary to use harsh methods to train police and military dogs.
The next time you’re looking for a dog trainer and they¬†say they trained police and military dogs with that macho swagger you can say, “that’s terrific! What types of toys did you use?” If the answer is “none” keep looking. Ideally, for a¬†certified trainer who trains without fear and intimidation.
Again, my heartfelt thanks to the Point Pleasant Police and Allenhurst Police department officers and their K-9 partners for protecting our communities and educating the public on the power of positive-based training methods.
Karen Fazio, CDBC¬†is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and owner of¬†The Dog Super Nanny¬†professional dog training and the Director of Behavior at¬†Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital¬†in Monmouth County, NJ. She may be reached at 732-533-9376 or¬†email@example.com