At Highland Canine Training, we are proud to have been at the forefront of innovation in many facets of the Police K9 industry. From our detailed scientific research that underpins our overall approach, to revolutionary, scenario-based training for K9 handlers and supervisors, we have been pioneers in improving the capabilities of K9 teams across the world.
Last year, we continued our mission by releasing a range of online programs for law enforcement teams. Covering a range of different topics, these programs can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, making lots of valuable information accessible for those who need it.
To provide more information about these online programs, we spoke with Shana Parsnow, the Manager of our Working Dog Division. If you’ve attended a K9 handler school at our training facility in Harmony, NC, you’ll know that Shana is incredibly knowledgeable and an integral part of delivering our programs. In this interview, Shana outlines what is included in the course material, and who can benefit from these online K9 training programs.
Shana, can you give our readers an idea of the topics covered by the online programs at Highland Canine?
Our oldest – and our first – online class is the Advanced K9 Detection Course. It goes over basic and advanced detection techniques for K9 teams. It focuses on narcotics, but it can be applied to other types of detection as well. That one is a great class for any handler or trainer to broaden their horizon as far as imprinting, training aids or aid placement.
Our Handler School Classes have lots of great information, too. These are classes that handlers who purchase a dog from Highland Canine will undertake, including Applied Dog Behavior, How Dogs Learn, in addition to tactical trailing and record keeping. This is very important for green handlers and experienced handlers alike.
The Advanced K9 Detection course is law enforcement only. The majority of our online classes are law enforcement only; the ones that are not are clearly marked as non-LEO.
These classes seem to cover a wide variety of topics - for example, it isn’t just how to work dogs operationally, but it covers other aspects which are often overlooked, such as recordkeeping?
Recordkeeping is extremely important – we place a huge emphasis on this during our handler schools. It is vital that handlers recognize that keeping detailed records is an essential part of their work. This ensures that their work in the field can be backed up with organized evidence and records.
We also have our Police K9 Supervisor Course. Within the Police K9 Supervisor Course, there are many different topics to study. Some people may prefer to take individual classes as opposed to the whole course, and that option is available for them.
We have had a number of people take the Supervisor Course – both supervisors and non-supervisors. There is so much valuable information included for current supervisors, but non-supervisors will also benefit from studying it. For example, handlers may be in the process of being groomed for the next supervisor position, and this can help prepare them for what to expect. There are also supervisors who want their handlers to take this class so that their handlers fully understand big picture issues such as liability.
Detection for the 21st Century is a very interesting class. The class explores ways we can improve handling and training of detection dogs. Attacking Canine Cases outlines how defense attorneys are discrediting law enforcement officers and their K9s, and prepares handlers to ensure they are fully prepared to testify in a courtroom situation should the need arise.
When a department brings a K9 into their team, there are lots of things to consider. Are there classes that will help handlers and supervisors to prepare for this?
Creating Successful Canine Teams is one class which is helpful for any department at the stage of considering acquiring a Police K9. The class talks about budgeting. It discusses the resources you will need available – not just for the price of the dog and the training, but the ongoing costs, such as food, veterinary care and other essentials for taking care of a working dog. It is so important for supervisors to understand that dogs are not just the upfront cost, and this class will help departments to prepare for that. There are also other classes which talk about risk management and dealing with liability.
The Canine Policy Course is a guide to many of the operations of K9 teams. This gives great information and guidance about how to make sure that K9 policy is written in a way which doesn’t restrict the operational efficiency of K9 teams.
In general, who would these classes be beneficial for?
These programs are great for law enforcement handlers, K9 supervisors, or anyone within a department who may be involved in the decision-making process for acquiring a K9. For classes that are not LEO-only, these are useful for commercial handlers and contractors.
As departments are struggling with manpower nowadays, it can be tough for anybody to get away for training. These online programs are designed so people can do them whenever and wherever they want. A lot of the handlers and supervisors that have done these classes are doing them on night shift, or day shift when they have downtime. The course content is so important, and doing it remotely opens up so many more learning opportunities.
Who is delivering these classes?
Jason Purgason is the lead instructor for these programs. Jason is a former police K9 handler and supervisor, and is known in the industry for being an expert on dog behavior and dog training. He has certified hundreds of K9 teams around the globe and regularly speaks at seminars and conferences to provide information on a range of K9 topics. Jason delivers the knowledge and expertise he has accumulated through decades of work in this industry in a unique and engaging manner.
What has the feedback been so far?
The feedback has been positive. We have a survey at the end of each class so we can review and improve the course content. Many people have liked the design of the programs, and they have also liked that they can do it whenever they need to. They also like that there are certifications at the end that they can show for ongoing training hours.
Another common feedback point from people who have taken other classes similar to ours is that they found our curriculum was much more engaging. That’s because you can actually see Jason – it’s not just PowerPoint slides – and that’s very important for people. Handlers and supervisors have commented that the classes contain lots of information which will help to improve the efficiency of their K9s and their department – which, after all, is the most important thing.