FoxTal Training Center wrapped up our most recent seminar with Mark Chaffin this week. I brought him in for 3 days of intensive training during our first week of patrol class, and opened it up to other FoxTal K9 teams and officers with their agencies who are interested in learning decoy skills. The intention is to offer a Basic Protection and Decoy seminar and an Advanced level seminar. It would be unsafe to place dogs into an Advanced seminar who lacked the skill base, though I have certainly seen that happen in other places!
One thing that our handlers learn is that I am a stickler for safety. During our working careers we have probably all experience the "how could this accident have been prevented " form. Working with and training biting dogs carries an inherent risk. While a handler or decoy may be injured, I work very hard to insure that it will not be because they were not properly trained, instructed or equipped. This is a far cry from my first introduction, where they put the newbies in a bite suit and told us to "run that way"... somewhere in the background I heard laughter as they sent a huge German Shepherd to flatten me to the ground with a tricep bite from the back. I know from experience that not only can the new decoy/helper be injured but more importantly, he or she could fall on the dog and injure it. I cringe when I see an officer allow an untrained person to put on a sleeve or other protection equipment and take a bite from their dog. I wonder if their agency knows that they are putting a $20,000-plus investment at risk?
You also will not find videotapes of the training here or on the internet. There are plenty of sport videos available if you want to see a technique, but the internet is forever and training advancements improve. I am very proud of our teams, and very protective of their training and reputations.
I was very pleased to have decoys from different agencies; it will definately be helpful to those K9 teams to have a trained decoy available to them. Both the K9 teams and the decoys were exposed to the basic elements of protection work. We worked with the types of equipment they will see and basic techniques of control and application. Muzzle, bite suit, concealed sleeve, exposed sleeve. Multiple suspects targeting one, obedience under distraction, area search, guarding and release. We had several supervisors join us to observe the training and we welcome that. It is important that a K9 Supervisor understand how much training is required to maintain the skills of a patrol K9. All the dog teams and the decoys did an excellent job and will be able to move to advanced skills in the next seminar.
If you are a K9 handler or supervisor interested in attendance at future seminars, contact me at: Foxtal@aol.com
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