Why Is The Belgian Malinois Used As A Police & Military Working Dog?

Why Is The Belgian Malinois Used As A Police & Military Working Dog?

The American Kennel Club defines the Belgian Malinois with three simple words – confident, smart, and hardworking. Though there is so much more to this astounding breed, no three words better embody the spirit and determination of these working machines. 

From their agility and strength, to their unrivaled devotion and boldness, it is no surprise this breed has become a top choice for police and military efforts throughout the world.

The history of the Belgian Malinois

To understand why the Belgian Malinois has such an amazing reputation as an unparalleled working dog, it is important to take a look at the breed’s history. 

Developed as a herding breed in Malines, Belgium, this diligent breed also proved to be useful in the protection of farm and family. By breeding with an emphasis on performance as opposed to looks, the success of the Malinois quickly skyrocketed into one of the most sought after breeds for working purposes. Due to its versatility, new career paths quickly opened to the Malinois. World War II introduced this breed to military use – mainly hired as border patrol, cart haulers and message runners.

This was just the beginning. Throughout the following decades, the Belgian Malinois gained further popularity in working fields. It was introduced to the United States around 1911, with five ‘Belgian herding dogs’ being employed as Police K9s by the New York City Police Department. The Belgian Malinois was officially recognized by the AKC in 1959.

In the 1960s, the use of the Malinois spread across the country like wildfire. Mals became the preferred breed for police and military matters, though the public often misjudged the breed as a German Shepherd. In recent years, however, the name and presence of the Belgian Malinois has started to shine even brighter.

belgian malinois detection dog

Two Examples Of Heroic MalS

When the need for a military dog arose during the siege of Osama bin Laden’s compound, it’s no shock to hear that the first choice was an eager Belgian Malinois named Cairo. Prior to this famous mission, Cairo had experienced other difficult assignments, including being shot during one operation. The incident put Cairo in serious condition with injuries that may have ended the careers of other dogs. However, the tremendous work ethic of the Belgian Malinois and the drive to continue that work put Cairo back in no time.

Cairo is just one example of the successful use of this breed in working fields. With the Belgian Malinois employed by police and military forces throughout the world, it’s not hard to find a plethora of other examples as well. 

Utilized by the Los Angeles Police Department, a fierce Malinois named Edo became a hero due to his assistance in armed suspect seizures. 

During the disasters of the 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City and the destructive mudslides of Montecito, Diva the Malinois effectively saved countless lives as a dedicated urban search and rescue dog

Strong and agile - THE ideal working dog

The flexibility and intense drive of the Belgian Malinois easily proves its usefulness for these purposes. But other than that, what exactly makes this breed such a staple for police departments and military efforts?

With its sturdy frame and formidable build, this powerhouse of a dog can easily take on the most demanding of tasks. Physically, this breed is built for work. The perfect combination of strength, agility, and stamina allows the Belgian Malinois to conquer challenges humans can only dream of, making it an ideal partner in these intensive fields. 

As a police K9 or military working dog, the Malinois is able to launch through car windows to apprehend suspects, track down individuals through difficult and extreme environments, and even leap from aircrafts to parachute into challenging situations.

drug detection dog belgian malinois

Police and military work takes more than physical strength though, and that’s where the unique mentality of the Belgian Malinois comes in. Loyalty, protectiveness, and eagerness – backed by an incessant desire to work – creates an unstoppable machine when paired with its physical capabilities. Their alert nature and enthusiastic willingness to do anything makes the Malinois an extraordinary partner in even the most difficult of conditions.

In Summary

With all of this going for the Belgian Malinois, it’s easy to see why this breed is a top tier asset for police departments and military forces throughout the world. 

Although the Malinois is a powerhouse of a dog, its skills and talents must be shaped by intensive training in order to create the amazing working canine the world has come to rely on. At Highland Canine Training, our background gives us a personal understanding of the challenges our police officers and military personnel face everyday. In order to craft the perfect canine partner, our training reflects real life scenarios and training techniques that canine handlers will be using in the field. This ensures the Belgian Malinois working dog is equipped with not only the resources it needs for the job but also the experience to successfully fulfill the tasks required of it on the job. 

The natural ability of a Mal makes them the ideal candidates to be trained to perform any type of odor detection in stressful environments, in addition to reliable apprehension skills without hesitation in the harshest situations. With a properly trained Belgian Malinois on your side, nothing can stand in your way.

Why 'Good' Dogs Are Becoming Harder To Find

Why 'Good' Dogs Are Becoming Harder To Find

amber siebsen dog trainer

This blog article was written by Amber Siebsen, a K9 Trainer and Instructor with Highland Canine Training, LLC. 

In this article, Amber explores whether ‘good’ working dogs are becoming harder to find – or do some trainers and handlers just have unrealistic expectations for green dogs?

There is a common myth growing in the K9 industry about the quality of dogs available to agencies and vendors. The myth? Simply, that there are no more ‘good’ dogs available. 

The belief is that Europe is now completely void of strong working genes. It is no longer able to provide agencies with the heroic monster dogs they need in order to keep their handlers and communities safe. 

As a relatively new trainer to the working dog industry, this myth has puzzled me, as I have had the opportunity to work with many incredible dogs from Europe. I hadn’t truly understood the thought process behind this belief until a recent experience involving a green dog at our training facility.

Testing the green dog

Shortly after we had received a new shipment of green dogs, an agency contacted us. We had one green dog unspoken for and they agreed to come down and test the dog. 

This particular dog had just turned one year old. At the time, he had only experienced very basic bite work and drive development. Being green, he needed to be trained – but he was an awesome blank slate I was very excited to work with. I was hoping this agency would feel the same way. He seemed a great prospect. He held up in the face of pressure, was very civil, and would hunt for a reward item until he found it – no matter the length of time it would take.

So, the day arrived and the agency came down to test him. I got him out of the kennel. He was a big dog, but very social – yet when he was brought out to greet the members of the agency, their trainer and the handlers present jumped back and were very hesitant about him coming close to anyone. 

As everyone seemed uncomfortable with the dog, I took him down to handle him for his ‘drive test’. I put him on a long line so he could hunt away from me. At this point, the trainer made it clear he did not like that the dog didn’t have off-leash obedience and wouldn’t recall. The dog had only been on the ground for a week and had no real obedience – remember, he was a green dog who had only been with us for a short amount of time. 

The dog did an excellent job hunting for the ball and located it on every occasion. This was a game he was very familiar with, having played it for a long time throughout his drive development. It was horribly disappointing for these trainers that the green dog wouldn’t out the ball as they would have liked, but we moved on to bite work next.

The bite work test

I brought the dog down to the back tie to be tested for bite work. By this stage, the dog had only really experienced biting a sleeve and had very little experience biting a suit. 

The trainer proceeded to put on a bite suit and walk backward into the dog. The dog was very confused but did the best he could. Next, the trainer attempted to test the dog’s pressure by catching him on the wrist and throwing him against a tree and into the woods behind the back tie. Once again, the green dog was very confused but kept his full mouth grip. The trainer proceeded to tempt the dog to take his legs. Bear in mind, this dog had never taken a leg before, and was already confused about what he needed to do and was becoming increasingly frustrated.

The decoy walked into the back tie – kicking at the dog – while the dog kept attempting to bite his arms. This only stopped when the dog popped him between the legs in an attempt to find a grip somewhere on the decoy. At this stage of his development, the dog really had no understanding that legs were even an option. He had only experienced very basic bite work.

The environmental test

Finally, we carried out an environmental test. This involved bringing a dog to a building with a decoy hiding inside. Although this dog was great in new places, he had not yet been started on building searches. He was sent in to locate and bite a passive decoy – which he did when he stumbled across him. 

However, with such little experience in this setting, the dog had no idea he was being sent in for a bite. The decoy immediately came alive and pushed the dog back into the wall and proceeded to scream. The green dog came off for a second before reengaging on the bite suit he had gripped a mere handful of times. 

After the ordeal was over, the trainer came out and explained that the green dog needed to be washed because of his lack of training and did not show courage on passive bites. 

They were disappointed that this new dog was not street-ready – and therefore, in their eyes, not a “good dog”.

What did this experience teach me?

After this experience, the perpetuating myth surrounding ‘good’ dogs makes more sense to me. After all, if the standard for a good green dog is for them to hold up to being beaten down right off the bat, and not require any training to target, carry out building searches or passive bites, it is no surprise that the number of good dogs appears to be falling. 

It actually seems that the issue in the industry as a whole isn’t a lack of good dogs – it may be that there is, in fact, a lack of good trainers who truly understand how to build great working dogs, who have the patience necessary to increase the chances of success. 

I’m not saying every dog is capable of being a working dog, because that is simply not true. However, there are plenty of good dogs ready to become great with proper training. Somewhere along the way, it seems we have forgotten that police dogs are, in fact, dogs – and not automatically man-eating monsters from birth. These dogs become K9 officers in large part because of the care, attention and skill of their trainers. They don’t become amazing police dogs by chance.

In summary – through bad training, a good dog becomes almost useless if it can’t stand the pressure of operational environments from the beginning. But through patient handling and a structured training program, a good dog can realize its true potential and become a valuable asset for any K9 team.

How to Select a Top Notch Human Remains Detection (HRD) Dog

How to Select a Top Notch Human Remains Detection (HRD) Dog

Human remains detection (HRD) dogs (also known as cadaver dogs) are an incredibly useful tool for law enforcement units, search and rescue teams and coroners alike. They make possible the locating of critical evidence, necessary to close some of the most heinous cases and bring justice to victims. They also provides many families with the closure necessary to heal when they may otherwise be forced to live the rest of their lives wondering what happened to their loved one. Without HRD K9s, some of the worst cases would go unresolved, which could result in even more innocent lives being unnecessarily lost.

Training an HRD K9 is not a quick process; it requires a great deal of time, dedication and education in order to do it correctly. Cadaver dogs are not just imprinted and trained on decomposition. They must understand that their job is to locate any human remains present, whether they are fresh and sitting on top of soil, or 150 years old and buried under the ground. HRD dogs are expected to find everything from traces of adipocere when a body has been moved or tiny remnants of human remains undiscovered by the human eye, to multiple bodies in a disaster scenario when the environment is saturated with the scent of early decomposition. They are expected to completely ignore animal remains, litter, environmental distractions and more, while serving as our forensic anthropologist who can recognize whether remains are human or not before their handler even recognizes the signs that evidence is present. These dogs must also have enough control to indicate so closely on cadaver that there is no doubt regarding its location, but not pick up the find or disturb critical evidence.

The first critical step in training a quality HRD dog is finding and choosing the right partner. In a world where many people have access to hundreds of adult dogs or puppies, it can be difficult to know how to choose the right one for the job. In this article, we will take the guesswork out of selecting the right HRD K9. From breed to temperament and drive, you will learn how to find the right dog for your needs.

Selecting Your HRD Partner: Breed

Deployments can be long and tedious for HRD teams. Depending on the job, you may have to trek through acres of dense woodland, tread lightly through dangerous disaster scenes, move meticulously through miles of field, operate a search pattern on a boat through water, work the streets of an urban environment or travel through mountainous, arctic or desert terrain depending on your location of operation.

Because HRD work can be dangerous and exhausting, it is critical that your dog can work hours in difficult-to-navigate terrain. Remember that this dog may be asked to search for miles without locating odor, so make sure to choose a breed that is not only renowned for its working ability, but also comes from “working lines.” 

When choosing a puppy, you will likely run into a variety of breed sub-categories: working lines, conformation/show lines, pet dog lines, etc. You will ideally want to ensure that your future partner comes from working line lineage, as this will give you the best chance at finding a puppy bred for stamina, focus and drive. It is important to find a breed that is durable, capable of working in a variety of weather conditions, not overly sensitive to new stimuli, and athletic.

german shepherd cadaver dog

Very large breeds could present problems for HRD handlers, as they typically possess less natural stamina than smaller breeds. Medium or smaller “large” breeds (such as labs or working line German Shepherds) are the standard choice for HRD candidates. Some typical breeds found in HRD work are:

Selecting Your HRD Partner: Socialization

socialized cadaver dog

Testing a potential candidate for environmental and social stability is critical when evaluating a potential HRD candidate. Handlers may find themselves thinking, “Why would my dog need to be social when it is working independently out in nature most of the time?” 

Unsocialized dogs, in general, can present pretty severe issues for their owners. Undesirable behaviors such as aggression, severe timidity, spooking and becoming overly excited are typically witnessed in unsocialized dogs. Matters become even more concerning where working dogs are involved – an unsocialized K9 can:

  • Cause harm to innocent bystanders
  • Cause harm to your team mates or other dogs on the team
  • Forego obedience to trained odors in favor of becoming distracted by new surroundings
  • Panic, and refuse to work
  • Take significantly longer to desensitize to potentially frightening stimuli

You will want to test how your puppy or dog reacts when it is exposed to traffic, new people, other animals, slick floors, dark spaces and unfamiliar obstacles. If you are attempting to raise a puppy for working purposes, it is very important to socialize them well so that they remain stable in every possible environment. By practicing on obstacle courses and agility equipment, you can help boost your pup’s confidence and condition them for the physically demanding work they will face in the field.

Selecting Your HRD Partner: Search Drive

Search drive is a vital component to any sort of detection work. When selecting an HRD dog, you don’t want a dog who will look for a couple of minutes and give up – you need a dog who will search for hours, day after day, vigilantly and enthusiastically. 

Search drive is typically tested using a toy that the dog likes. This can be accomplished by holding the dog back while throwing the toy into an area that is not easy for the dog to find it (tall grass, forested ground, rubble), and watching how long they will look for this toy. When testing search drive, you will want to analyze a couple of different factors:

  • How long does the dog/puppy search?
  • How enthusiastic are they when they are searching?
  • How much ground do they cover when searching and what does their “pattern” look like?
cadaver dog in training

Your future HRD dog will likely be required to search for miles, so the ability to keep hunting is incredibly valuable. If you are planning on imprinting with odor inside a PVC pipe (which is typically the fastest way to do so), they will need to be willing to hunt for and play with a piece of PVC pipe. You can increase your future HRD candidate’s enthusiasm for the pipe by playing fetch with it for a bit before proceeding to throw it into the long grass or woods. The optimal candidate will not stop searching until it locates the pipe.

Selecting Your HRD Partner: Environmental Stability

An HRD K9 faces deployment in a variety of situations. Working deep in the woods, inside buildings or houses, over acreage and fields, in disaster situations, along residential developments and more are not uncommon places for searches to take place. It is critical that your future partner is 100% focused on their job regardless of where you take them. 

Although socialization in the early days helps to build this, some dogs are naturally nervous and will not be comfortable working in new places. Triggers such as new sounds, smells and sights can make dogs uncomfortable, and although this can be worked through to some extent, it will make your life significantly easier if you find a dog who is already confident and focused. You can test this by using a toy or your imprinting PVC pipe, and having your dog hunt for it in a variety of places. What does their body language look like while they are hunting in new environments? How enthusiastic and focused are they? 

Make sure to work indoors and outdoors, in light and in darkness, in loud and quiet environments, and on slippery floors and unstable (but safe) surfaces. Your pup should be willing to hunt for the pipe regardless of the environment, because it implies that their toy and hunt drives are so strong that they will be happy working anywhere as long as there is a toy on the other side.

cadaver dog searching car

In Summary

Quality HRD teams are an incredibly valuable asset to society. They accomplish things that neither humans nor technology could do on their own by helping to bring closure to the desperate families of lost loved ones, and providing the evidence necessary to bring justice to the victims of individuals who commit heinous crimes – while stopping them from being able to commit any more. The first step in creating the optimal HRD team is choosing the right K9 partner for the job. Breed, temperament, stability, physical health, socialization and drive are all vital components of finding the right HRD dog, and will make or break your team’s effectiveness. Finding the right dog may be one of the most critical steps in the process of training an HRD K9, but once you have them, the real journey begins.

Four Great Options For Finding New Track Layers For Your K9

Four Great Options For Finding New Track Layers For Your K9

matt mckeown k9 trainer

This blog article was written by Matt McKeown, a K9 Trainer and Instructor with Highland Canine Training, LLC. Originally from Australia, Matt is regarded as an expert in trailing dogs.

In this article, Matt explores new possibilities for K9 Handlers who may be struggling to source new track layers to keep their dog’s training at an optimum level.

“The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade."
benjamin franklin portrait
Benjamin Franklin

Society’s foundation as we know it has been orchestrated due to mankind’s unique ability to fashion and employ the use of tools. Depending on the texts you consume the origins of humanity can be controversial – however it is undebatable that we would not be where we are today, waving our flag at the top of the food chain, without the use of sturdy, reliable tools.

Benjamin Franklin said it best, and his quote on the subject in my opinion is both layered and multi-dimensional. Historical statements are oftentimes open for interpretation with its message being as broad as the audience’s own imagination. Benjamin Franklin does not only speak of investing in tools for one’s own trade; he also talks of obtaining high quality tools and investing time and resources into the maintenance of one’s own tools.

As a Law Enforcement Officer, maintenance is no doubt a part of your daily routine and has evolved to dictate and manipulate much of your life. Uniforms must be kept clean and presentable, vehicles need to be washed and inspected regularly, firearms must be kept up to the highest standard – to list just a few examples.

As you have found yourself reading an article on a Police Dog Training website, it is safe to assume that you have already predicted my impending point that a highly trained K9 unit is a tool well worth investing in.

If we remember Mr. Franklin’s quote, the word investment made more than one point. This article will be pointing a finger at only one of these with its siblings to be analyzed in future articles. Of course, investing in a K9 can be a priceless asset to all departments and investing in the highest-quality K9 available is the foundation to all future success. Now, we reach this article’s focus point, because success will be short lived if we do not invest ample time and resources into the maintenance training of our K9s.

police k9 trailing dog

A responsible investment of time leads to better results

Most Departments have a minimum training requirement for every given month of the year. Training is structured differently from department to department, however it is common that most units meet a mandatory minimum of 16 hours training per month. All too often, the only reasonable way to manage the logistics of this requirement is to hold a couple of lump sum training sessions lasting an entire working shift (or two).

It is an observation of mine that when training is structured in this way – with significant breaks between sessions – K9 units are simply working to maintain the lowest of standards. Complacency is maintained, yet skills are never developed and improved upon. Some skill sets often even disintegrate completely and cannot be regained until there is a responsible investment of training resources and time.

Often one of the most neglected tools, covered with spider webs and rust, is the tracking/trailing. To an extent, this discipline is a perishable skill and when training takes place only once or twice a month the neglect can become obvious fairly quickly. To put it simply, if you do not use it you lose it – and if you lose it, what was the point of your initial investment in the first place?

tracking dog handler training course

Trailing differs from a skill like detection. Detection can be easy to train for and is often not neglected like the tracking/trailing, as it does not have to be terribly time-consuming and does not require the support and manpower of the tracking/trailing.

The same can be said for the training of patrol functions, with sessions not needing significant time to set up and complete. Sessions can take place easily on shift so that they fall neatly into routine.

As K9s become more advanced with their tracking/trailing, the time it takes to organize and complete training sessions is significantly greater than that of other disciplines and more often than not why it can become neglected. Everybody serves a purpose and it can be difficult for some to pause that purpose and obtain the freedom to work their tracking K9 appropriately during a shift.

Dedicating more time in trailing is vital

If training a dog in your off time sounds undesirable, then this could be for a few different reasons. Perhaps you do not genuinely enjoy a K9 handler’s position. Maybe you enjoy the work during regular hours, but do not possess the motivation and drive to truly excel at the position. Either way, if you are not beyond enthusiastic to wake up every day of the year to train, then it is for certain that the position of K9 handler is not for you and it would be ethical to remove yourself so that somebody more suitable secures the best job in law enforcement.

However, you have found yourself on a Police Dog Training website reading blogs in your spare time, so the person in the previous paragraph is almost certainly not you. You possess as much drive as your K9 partner and are willing to invest whatever it takes to keep your blades sharp and hack away at any training discrepancies.

One frustration I find myself hearing all too often is that your enthusiasm is not matched by your peers and support staff. I am willing to bet that you have one or two people in your department as addicted to the K9 chaos as you are that will lay tracks regardless of weather, terrain or number on the calendar – however you cannot secure any more assistance than that. I know for a fact you have other associates that refuse to get their feet wet, let alone break a sweat for the sake of your K9 training.

tactical tracking police k9 seminar

Finding a mix of track layers

Dog training philosophies vary from trainer to trainer, however, we all agree that having an unpredictable mix of people to lay your tracks is crucial to an unstoppable tracking dog. Your two mates are fantastic, and my gratitude for their assistance immeasurable. I hope one day they secure a handler’s position of their own. But to truly test your dog’s tracking capabilities, we need more track layers with a healthy mixture of age, race, gender, diet and addictions. Everyone’s odor is different, and we want your K9 to become proficient at finding anybody – not just Gary and Kevin.

So how exactly do you find such a mixture of people? For anybody who is willing to protect their department’s investment by investing their own time yet cannot find the resources, here is a list of possible solutions for you to facilitate the training you need. We must think outside the box and start searching the very same world our K9’s are to be working in for resourceful track layers.

Option 1 - Family, Friends and Neighbors

The first possibility is likely to be the easiest to organize for a number of reasons. These are the people that you are closest to in this world of ours. You have an easy and open line of communication, there is no paperwork to be completed or searching through the calendar to set appointment times. It is likely that you share a number of interests with your friends and family, so the prospect of laying tracks for you might truly excite them but perhaps they never thought that it was a possibility.

It is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen relationships, bond and build memories to endure a lifetime. Your children have no problems getting dirty and your friends have no problem really testing your abilities and laying challenging tracks. Thinking outside the box even further, you could help the new neighbors unload the moving truck if they promise to lay tracks for you next Saturday. If your mother-in-law is a source of grief and frustration in your life, then for all your wife knows when she is scheduled to visit this coming Sunday, you need to go and run some tracks with your cousin because the Sheriff has insisted that you must train and he needs to see the training records on his desk come Monday morning.

I do not know your family and your relationships, but if you start thinking outside of the box, a mixture of friends and loved ones can skyrocket your K9s tracking ability.

Option 2 - Social Media/Craigslist

We operate and run a successful School for Dog Trainers, which has hosted alumni from over 30 different countries worldwide. It is a luxury that we possess the opportunities for our dogs to hunt for people from so many varied walks of life, and is a huge contributing factor to why our Police K9s see such success in real world deployments. Our program is structured to include a well-rounded mixture of hands-on practical training and classroom time for theory work and to discuss training philosophies.

When students are in the classroom, it is not unheard of that we advertize for volunteers to aid us in the track laying of our working K9s. Applicants are in contact with us almost immediately and it has proven a reliable way to obtain people to lay tracks for our working dogs. Often times it has led to the building of relationships within our local community, and permissions have been granted for us to train dogs in locations we never would have thought to be possible.

Sometimes when we spend enough time in a position, we can forget how gifted we are to be in that position to begin with. The view from our back window does not seem as romantic as when we first moved in, yet new visitors to the house fall in love with its charm immediately. It is important to remember that K9 handler is the best job in Law Enforcement and the position holds a lot of respect and intrigue to the general public. What can be day-to-day for you is beyond comprehension to them. If you advertize for volunteers, I guarantee the quantity of potential applicants will get so large you might have to turn some away.

amber trailing on train tracks

Option 3 - Clubs/Sports and Social Groups

This is where thinking outside the box will bring you the most variety in your trail layers. Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles, and one lyric that really stands out in my mind is “boredom is not a burden anyone should bare.” People despise the feeling of boredom, and as a result, we find hobbies to occupy our spare time. Many of these hobbies are spent outdoors and with a little charm and manners it could be organized that you combine your passion with another’s.

Think about the Boy Scouts, for example. Not a single one of those kids is going to deny a request from his new hero (the K9 handler of the local Sheriff’s department) to lay tracks for his dogs. You could liaise with the local Scout group on their next camping trip, and spend anywhere from a few hours to a few days working your K9, building relationships with the local community, accessing training areas you could never use in the past and inspiring the next generation of leaders to navigate through life with a strong moral compass. You could even organize for them to receive a K9 scout patch for their uniforms.

My uncle’s hobby is that of an amateur historian with a particular interest in the history of the city he grew up in. He hosts guided walking tours around the city where he educates tourists of times past. If his audience agrees, somebody could leave a scent article and a period of time after the tour has left the designated start point you and your K9 partner could track them down. At night time most communities have people doing something similar and offering ghost tours, so now you potentially have assistance training at night time too.

Recently, myself and my coworkers found ourselves working a trailing dog through a Frisbee golf course. While I was the one actually laying the trail and we were not in need of help, it was clear to me from the positive reaction of the public that anyone there would have been eager to go about their game with a reward for our dogs when we eventually catch up to them.

I developed an interest and a curiosity with the sport of falconry a few years back. I was lucky to spend time with the local falconer’s guild and participate in some hunts. These sportsman spend hours in the woods hunting with their birds, and many socialize these birds with dogs to assist in flushing out game. Strike up a relationship with a local falconer’s guild and you might just find yourself tracking down somebody who has been wandering through the woods for hours.

The list could go on and on – mountain bike clubs, geocaching, hikers, marathon runners – the only thing limiting you from finding an abundance of track layers is your imagination. Get out there and combine your passion with somebody else’s!

Option 4 - Track the Locals

trailing dog

Perhaps you just witnessed one of the local drunks stumble out of the pub and make the responsible decision to walk home instead of drive. If he has a friendly and outgoing reputation, you could easily approach and ask to track him down on his way home. If he does not have such a reputation you could not ask and just track him down on his way home anyway. When you catch up to him, you can be the one to reward your dog for a successful track.

The local homeless gentleman you saw walking down the road 30 minutes ago will likely not be upset that you tracked him down with your K9 if you have a few dollars or a sandwich to offer him when you eventually find him.

In Summary

Your department has made an investment and purchased a K9. You have been chosen as the handler.

Ideally, you possess as much natural drive as your dog does, and you are willing to go above and beyond the bare minimum standard of training.

When you begin to think outside of the box and source a variety of trail layers, you and your K9 are going to be unstoppable. These are just a few ideas to hopefully spark some creativity and problem solving.

Remember, the community is invested in your success – they might just be able to help you make it happen.