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30 Day Handler/K9 Orientation Period

Sgt. William Nott Jr.

Upon the selection of the handler by the police administration, the unit trainer will select a suitable police canine.  The canine will be tested in all areas of the patrol function. Upon successfully completing the field-testing the canine will be assigned to the handler for a 30-day orientation period.


During this period the canine will be allowed on patrol with the officer but must remain on leash and under the officer's control at all times. The canine can be exercised on a long line in a controlled environment, such as a tennis court, ball field or other "ENCLOSED" area.


CRUISER ORIENTATION: The police canine will be monitored for carsickness or aversion to audible devices. The canine's ability to ride at normal and high speeds will be monitored.  The canine's willingness to mount and dismount from the cruiser will also be monitored. Any aversion to the police cruiser or equipment shall be reported to the unit trainer.


MUZZLE ORIENTATION: The police canine will be assigned a muzzle that will be used during the basic training program.  The officer will be provided a handout from the department's canine training manual, section 11, use of the agitation the muzzle. The officer will follow the procedures in this section to introduce the muzzle to the dog.  Any continued aversion to the muzzle shall be reported to the unit trainer.


HOME ORIENTATION: The canine shall be introduced to the officer's home and family (if applicable) during this orientation period. It is paramount that the canine feels comfortable in its home and interacts well with the officer in this environment. It is our goal to have a police canine that interacts well with both adults and children. Uncontrolled aggression is not acceptable.  In the event there are other animals in the residence, the unit trainer should supervise the initial interaction and provide guidance to the handler. Any behavior problems displayed by the canine shall be reported to the unit trainer.


VETERINARIAN ORIENTATION: The police canine should make several visits to the veterinarian hospital. This allows the veterinarian and techs to interact with the dog and to view the behavior of the dog.  


EQUIPMENT AND HANDGUN ORIENTATION: The police canine will be introduced to the officer's duty weapon, impact weapon, portable radio and handcuffs in a manner that is not intrusive or that causes an adverse reaction to the equipment. This is one of the most important phases of orientation for the canine. Following this guide will assist in making the tactical training and passive gunfire response training, a success.


This portion of the orientation requires the officer make his duty weapon safe and empty all magazines. NO AMMUNITION IN THE MAGAZINES or DUTY WEAPON. Check and recheck!!!!!!!!


Because the officer will be required to be ready for an on duty armed confrontation; it is best to perform this part of orientation off duty or during a period where you are least likely to be interrupted. Obtain three extra duty magazines from the firearms unit. Utilize these empty magazines for orientation.


The purpose of this orientation is to detect adverse reactions to specific equipment carried by the officer. The unit trainer will make an assessment of any adverse reactions and determine if the canine's behavior can be modified through motivational training. 


The goal of this orientation is to make the equipment on the officer’s belt "neutral" to the dog. The dog should not expect or be "triggered" by the deployment of specific equipment on the officer's duty belt.


The officer will be provided a handout from the training manual under Section 9, "Passive Gunfire Response". This section will outline what steps the handler will take in neutralizing the dog to his/her duty weapon.


SUMMARY: The basic training program is very stressful on the police canine. The orientation period is very important and assists us in identifying behavioral problems or adverse reaction to stimulus that may become a training issue. We may be able to modify or correct them prior to the start of basic training. If we identify a behavioral problem that cannot be corrected, our investment is minimal and we can replace the canine prior to the start of training.

Prepared by:
Sgt. William Nott Jr.
New London Police Department
Canine Training Unit
Master Trainer, N.A.P.W.D.A.   

Web-Master: Jim Cortina


Copyright © 2004 Connecticut Police Work Dog Association (C.P.W.D.A.)

All Rights Reserved. Reproduction Strictly Prohibited.