|MadSci Network: Zoology|
Training dogs for police work is performed the same way as any other training. According to one expert, "There are probably as many methods out there as there are trainers. The ones we hear about most often are, 1) positive reinforcement (praise, completion and resolution of the drive) 2) compulsion (negative corrections, verbal or through equipment) 3) inducement (balls, kongs, food etc.)" (www.uspcak9.com/training/k9traininwhatwhenwhy.shtml). Dogs go through typical obedience training first, and then several weeks of specialized training. Exactly what is taught in this training regimen depends on whether the dog is to go on to do patrols, drug inspections, tracking or other work. As do most trainers, Joe Clingan of the Fort Collins, Co. Police Department, emphasizes understanding the animalís natural behavior (www.uspcak9.com/training/k9traininwhatwhenwhy.shtml). Knowing this can allow you to present the dog with tasks it wants to do. For example, in searches, encourage the dog in its "strong prey or predatory drive" so that it wants to find the suspect. The dog is rewarded with praise, but also with having achieved its own objectiveófinding the "prey" and being allowed to "kill" it by biting at the subjectís sleeve. Clingan supports using the dogsí natural drives instead of using compulsion (forcing the dog through fear or negative reinforcement). In some ways, training a dog to search for a suspect or object is not that different from training it to fetch. Likewise, some of the other things police dogs must do or not do are similar to tasks of ordinary pets. For example, police dogs must be desensitized to gunfire so that they can continue to work even when shots are being fired nearby. The conditioning necessary for this would be similar to that for dogs that bark or cower at the sound of thunder or other noises in their apartment. Puppies are gradually introduced to noises (starting at first with soft noises or noises far away, and then gradually increasing the intensity of the noise over time (www.clickandtreat.com/webart107.htm). For other information on the web, try the Utah Post Service Dog Program, which has a page on the exams that patrol dogs must pass to be certified, including definitions of suitable behavior in instances of tracking, identifying evidence or apprehending a suspect (www.sisna.com/wendellnope/perf-pat.htm). The United States Canine Associationís page (www.uspcak9.com/html/home.shtml) contains general information as well as links to articles on training (www.uspcak9.com/html/training_toc.shtml).
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