Last week, we had the opportunity to attend the American Police Canine Association (APCA) show in Indiana and train with more than 200 Law Enforcement officers and dog handlers from across the country.
As a veteran of the SOF community and in that capacity, having worked with canines (almost exclusively dual purpose) overseas, it was really interesting to see these canines in action and discuss specifics regarding best practices for application of our canine teammates. While some variance exists with regard to the canines role or ‘job’ and application thereof from one agency to the next, the fabric and foundation of what makes a canine and it’s handler effective transcends departments and agencies whether Law Enforcement or military.
Some of those truths I see that are universal to all effective canines and handlers include:
- Selection – not every great operator, even is going to be an equally great handler. Similarly, not every canine is cut out for this type of pace and has the capacity to work under such stress. Know what you are and know - your capabilities and limitations.
- Training – create an environment of meaningful training. This is paramount and requires purpose (defined objectives), discipline (periodic to sustain perishable skills), and creativity (changing variables to eliminate ‘gaming it’ or ’going through the motions’).
- Study – keep your eyes open to new tactics and procedures. Read the after action reports of others and equally important, evaluate yourself (and canine). When you identify a deficiency, train to make it a proficiency. We had a great time at APCA and look forward to next year’s event to catch up up with our friends, new and old alike. Train hard and stay frosty.
Check out this short clip of Sheriff Neal from N & F Training Solution engage the Pivotal Trainer at the show