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Why K9 Operations?

A detection team is an investment for your agency. It will cost you in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000 just for the dog. Including the cost of the handler, vehicle, food, veterinary care, and vaccinations, this can become an investment of close to $100,000 the first year.

In my years of working over 12 detection dogs, I have learned more about what not to do than I have what to do. In the same regard, I have learned more from watching poor handlers, poor trainers and poorly managed programs. This experience alone is worth everything to me.

My job is to coach the handler to become the best, most productive detection team and to educate the managers how to best utilize their K9 resource. I work for both the handler and the managers to create a productive working dog team.

My credentials and credibility are for you to decide if my training program is worth your investment. I have been in the working dog industry since 1990. Each and every hour of my training was from a highly structured and accredited training course and my years of experience are from a “real-world” working environment with over 12 dogs that I am honored to have worked. I have found millions of dollars worth of narcotics, trained handlers to work dogs in narcotics, explosives, bed bugs, Leader Dogs for the Blind. I have also helped countless families regain control of their personal dogs.

Regardless of my experience and accomplishments, I am only as good as the value your agency is getting from my service. All of my accomplishments and experience don’t amount to anything if you are not getting a return on your investment.

Is Your K9 Program Cost Effective?

With the exception of narcotics trained dogs, detection dogs do notgenerate revenue. Keeping this in mind, the team’s productivity can be measured and a value attached. Most of that value is in minimizing costs produced by false alerts.

Most detection work is proactive searching and can still be revenue producing when managed properly. Dogs that false alert create expenses when areas have to be “cleaned” without cause. If a dog consistently “false alerts” in several areas, costs increase. Worse yet, is a dog that doesn’t alert on a site and the client has paid for nothing. These incidents create a negative reputation for the team and falsely re-affirm that dog teams are unreliable.

For more information on the revenue earning capabilities of a detection team, please email pat@k9operations.com.

Maintenance Training

The term “training” refers to learning and competencies as a result of the teaching of practical skills and knowledge that relate to your specific trade. Training forms the core of apprenticeships and provides the backbone of forming a reliable and competent working dog team. In addition to the basic training required for a K9 Team, the need to continue training beyond initial qualifications is a must. The need to maintain, upgrade and update skills throughout the K9 team's working life is paramount to success. Corporations refer to this as professional development to their employees.

"Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect." -Vince Lombardi

When a K9 Team returns from a basic training course, it is impossible for the team to be at their optimal performance level. This period after initial training can and often is the beginning of the downfall of your K9 Program. Do not waste your investment by becoming complacent in your maintenance training. A competent one-on-one coach is needed to continually push your teams in training.

There are many areas that you need to consider when choosing with whom and where your K9 Teams conduct maintenance training. Please remember that the handler's skills will dictate the working ability of the dog. Poor handler skills equal poor working results from the dog. It is far more important for you to find a maintenance program that can coach your handlers to success.

In my years of working dogs, I have seen a wide variety of maintenance training being conducted. Most of the training that I have observed or been part of has been less than adequate to properly maintain a credible and reliable working dog team. Many training centers boast on the volume of K9 Teams that they train, but if you do the math on the number of teams serviced each week, divided by the hours of training being offered, there is little opportunity for the trainer to properly conduct training with each handler.

For example, a training center servicing 55 working dog teams offering 16 hours each month of supervised maintenance training would equal a little over 3 hours of coaching per K9 Team each month. This little amount of training will make your program suffer.

In order for the volume of teams to be serviced, the advertised trainer must then find other trainers to work with your teams. This isn’t wrong if the other trainers are as qualified and experienced as the advertised trainer is, but that is not likely the case. Manager should attend training unannounced at least twiceduring scheduled maintenance training. Doing so will allow you to see the lack of training your K9 Teams are actually receiving.

>Associate trainers may not be as qualified as you should expect. Many of the trainers are very similar to the “Master Trainer” themselves only in seniority. Both new and experienced handlers need direct feedback from the primary trainer and, most importantly, one-on-one coaching based on experience, not seniority.

Working with other handlers in your program or an adjacent program is a low to no cost way to conduct maintenance training. K9 Operations' maintenance training program utilizes small group training. Training is conducted imall groups becauseit is impossible to conduct adequate training with more than five working dog teams during an assigned training day. The limit of five teams is small enough for personalized attention, yet large enough for other handlers to learn by watching other K9 Teams train.

Each handler will have a different skill level and different levels of improvement they must accomplish. I personally select each training environment, place all training material, conduct the training and give one-on-one feedback on the performance of the K9 Team. My training is conducted with one main purpose; to improve performance at all skill levels, which the K9 Team can utilize in real world scenarios.

Maintenance training is conducted in real world environments. Each weekly training session occurs at a different location with real training materials, not just pseudo. Training materials are also rotated yearly to maintain the integrity of the odor being reinforced. With the growing demand of working dogs in the civilian market the growth of training programs has increased. Many other programs will integrate Police K9 Teams with their civilian programs. K9 Operations separates each of the different programs to ensure a well-maintained, positive training environment

Manager Training

Guidance from educated management is essential for the success of a K9 detection program. The team's success relies on the training manager’s ability to identify break-downs in the detection team’s performance by reviewing training logs and intervening with recommended corrections to re-establish a clear scent picture. The team becomes ineffective when the dog continuously makes mistakes and all training deficiencies must be noted with a positive course of action to correct. These visible signs can be logged and monitored so that problems can be identified and corrected early. If a manager is unaware of the problem, they cannot properly assist the K9 Team and the program's effectiveness declines.

Most managers are not skilled K9 personnel, making it difficult to properly maintain a K9 program. While managers don’t need to be skilled handlers, they do need to be educated on the proper utilization, training, skills, effectiveness, and reliability of their K9 teams. Managers also need to be able to read and understand training records.

A manager is only as effective at managing the program as the operating procedures established by the agency. Policies and procedures ensure that fundamental organizational processes are performed in a consistent way that meets the organizations’ needs. This establishes a control for risk management, continuous improvement and compliance. A well defined and documented process, along with records demonstrating an effective internal control system, is vital for every agency to maintain a proficient K9 Program.

During our basic handler training course, we offer a two day manager's course at no additional cost. Managers are always welcome to attend and participate in maintenance training. This training covers what it required to train/maintain a working dog, record keeping, operating policies and procedures, and proper and practical uses of a Detector Dog Team. This course can be taken during any of the handler training courses during the year.

I also offer individual sessions for managers to review current policies and procedures, conduct an overview of your program to identify any deficiencies, and then set a course of action to correct those deficiencies.

I offer individual assistance to agencies without current K9 team policies and procedures or those looking to update existing policies or training records. Your agency can be at risk if handlers are not given proper guidelines to follow or handlers can become complacent.