February 12, 2004

Dog as deadly force

US military working dogs are of two types (that I know of). There are drug-detection dogs and bomb-detection dogs. Both kinds can do duty as a guard dog, but basically it's taking advantage of their keen senses, the training for the guard role is limited since they focus on their primary function. After the Vietnam conflict, so-called 'sentry' dogs were phased out because they were ultra-agressive and somewhat unpredictable. Military dogs aren't pets, they're tools bred and trained to do a specific job, and turning one loose against someone is considered using 'deadly force'.

I don't know much about police dog training. I suspect that police dogs are taught more in the way of apprehension techniques and keeping a perpetrator at bay and under control.

A while back The Meatriarch did a fine two-part series (here and here) on canine breeds who fit the bill if you need serious protection and are prepared to spend the time and effort in order to be a responsible owner to one. Everyone should read these, for informational purposes if nothing else, because the average person does not equate dogs with overwhelming deadly force.

Posted by Ted at February 12, 2004 08:37 PM
Category: Links

I used to train police dogs in college. Just about any breed can be a good guard dog. ANy large dog can make a good police dog because to the dog, it's all a game. Any dog with high play drive can be taught.

Posted by: SayUncle at February 12, 2004 10:47 PM

Really? Just a very rough kind of play? I had no idea, that's interesting.

Posted by: Ted at February 13, 2004 06:01 AM

SayUncle is exactly right. To the dog any type of training is a form of play.

That's why you can get any dog to to almost anything if you frame in that reference.

There is even an excellent book out there called: Play Training Your Dog.

The military and to a certain degree most police and protection dogs are selected for characteristics that make them easily suited to the work: I.e they can be trained quickly.

Those dogs are often very high drive and very dominant something that makes them very challenging to have around the house as pets.

The drive means they will always want to be busy which means if you aren't "playing" with them they will find a way to amuse themselves. This often involves chewing things - lots of things.

The dominance means they will always challenge you for pack leadership so you have to be continually on your guard. This is where most people get into trouble.

Many military/police dogs are also quite stubborn and hard headed (GSD in particular) and this is why they make good candidates for that type of training - they tend to be more forgiving of "handler error" in the training process.

Dogs that wash out don't necessarily lack the potential to do the work - they just need a more patient approach and military/police forces don't have the time (or sometimes the training methods) to achieve that.

This is why there are more GSDs than Malinois in those applications eventhough the Mal is generally faster, smarter, and with higher drive. It is known for having a longer memory for "handler error" which leads to training issues.

Posted by: The Meatriarchy at February 13, 2004 10:57 AM
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