K-9 TRAINING 1O1.
By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis CPP
Certified Police K-9 Instructor/Trainer
Freelance Writer & Author
November 23, 2023
IN THE BEGINNING
Researchers agree, the dog, Canis Familiaris, is a direct descendant of the gray wolf, Canis Lupus: In other words, dogs as we know them, are domesticated wolves. However, years of, domestication and extensive breeding, changed the gray wolf into the dog we know today. The result is an animal that’s smaller in stature, with shorter muzzles, and smaller teeth. Moreover, the old adage, “Dogs Are a Mans Best Friend,” rings just as true today, as it did yesterday. Through time and memorial dogs (Canis Lupus Familiaris) has been and continues to be a willing partner to mankind and an integral part of our societal structure. From family pets to working dogs. Canis Lupus Familiaris, in any breed, shape, or form has proven they can do it all and this embodiment is interwoven into the very fabric of our lives.
DOGS AND HUMANS – AN ANCIENT PARTNERSHIP
In an article, produced by the Morris Animal Foundation, the article states: “Most researchers who study casting genetics agree that dogs are really domesticated wolves – after all their scientific name is Canis Lupus Familiaris. But the exact time that the relationship between wolves and humans turned from distrust and fear to a mutually beneficial partnership is disputed. A large body of research suggests that dogs were domesticated between 12,500 and 15,000 years ago, but recent genetic studies suggest that domestication might have taken place even earlier. Some researchers believe dogs might have commingled with humans as early as 130,000 years ago, long before our human ancestors settled into agricultural communities.”
BEGINNING OF SELECTIVE BREEDING
Selective breeding has occurred for thousands of years in numerous domesticated species, not just dogs. In our canine friends, breeding for specific behavioral traits, as opposed to confirmation occurred first. However, where and when certain types of dogs originated is still uncertain.
THE VICTORIAN EXPLOSION
Most dog breeds we recognize today were developed in the last 150 years, spurred by what’s become known as the Victorian Explosion. During this time in Great Britain, dog breeding intensified and expanded, resulting in many of our most recognizable breeds of dogs.
Today, there are approximately 400 dog breeds in the world. Alone, in the United States, the American Kennel Club register’s 200 breeds. The 7 major dog breed categories in the USA are: Working, Herding, Hound, Sporting, Non-sporting, Terrier, and Toy. Dogs continue to be a willing parter to mankind, whether it's in a law enforcement patrol car, war zone, as a companion dog, guarding assets, in a hunting field, a quide dog for the blind as well as working farm animals, such as Sheep and Cattle herding.
As a former Police K-9 Instructor/Trainer, it's my professional opinion: Any dog can be trained! However, a specific dog breed is more suitable over another, especially when the owner is looking for a dog to perform a specific task. In law enforcement, we found the German Shepherd to be the ideal K-9 for general duty police applications, i.e., building searching, tracking, crowd control, criminal apprehension, or illegal drug and explosive detection. Dual trained Police K-9’s are still used extensively today. When I left law enforcement in 1988 and entered the private security sector, I found the Labrador Retriever to be the ideal K-9 for private sector drug detection.
As a general rule, animals are trained using Operate Conditioning, sometimes referred to as instrumental conditioning. This is a method of learning that employs rewards and punishments for behavior and a consequence (negative or positive) for that behavior. For example, when lab rats press a lever when a green light is on, they receive a food pellet as a reward. When they push the lever when the red light is on, they receive a mild electric shock. As a result, they learn to press the lever when the positive green light is on and avoid the negative punishment or the red light.
DOG BREED SELECTION
Notwithstanding, never select a specific breed of dog because of its cuteness as a puppy. All puppies are cute, rather select a specific dog breed based on your individual requirements. Furthermore, the most accurate method of selecting the right breed of dog is to perform research and decide which dog breed is best for you. Most often, the mishaps with dogs occur when an owner selects the wrong dog for the task. In other words, don’t pick a specific breed of dog with a known history of aggressiveness, when in-fact, the dog is being purchased for a family with small children. A rule of thumb to remember: “An untrained aggressive dog, is more dangerous than a trained one!”
Another keynote, in the dog selection process, is not to select a dog that requires a lot of daily exercise because it's in the sporting or working dog class, e.g., a Jack Russel Terrier, Labrador Retriever, or Doberman Pinscher class of dogs when the animal is to reside in an apartment. This group of dogs require a daily exercise regimen to keep them occupied and their energy level suppressed.
Lastly, select a dog that’s suitable for the climate you live in. Example: Never select a dog with a thick coat of hair that’s normally suitable for an extremely cold weather climate and attempt to raise and house them in a hot and humid climate such as, the southern hemisphere of the United States.
“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between the Bridle!”