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Selecting a K9 Handler

Things a Department Should Consider

By Jay Brock

On the first day of police service dog school, I teach students three important points. The first is that a dog and handler are a team like no other. Handlers will spend more time with their working dogs than they will spend with anyone else in their lives during the time they have this assignment. The second is that the successes and failures during the assignment will be shared equally by the handler and the dog, but there are no shortcuts to success, and hard work is the only real way to ensure effective performance. The third, and probably the most important, is that the dog is the doer and the handler is the decision maker in the relationship. The decisions made regarding whether to deploy and, if so, how to deploy rest squarely on the shoulders of the handler. This last point leads to the importance of proper handler selection for a department considering starting a K9 program or when a new handler is needed to fill an upcoming vacancy.

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