The most important assets that security dogs and sniffer dogs possess are their natural instincts. They are so much more sensitive and powerful than humans’, but they are only useful in a security sense because of the extensive training the dogs undertake. It is great that dogs can detect smells and sense danger, but if this is done in an uncontrolled or aggressive way, then it is likely to be no good in a situation which requires composure, strategy and control. This is why training of security dogs and sniffer dogs is so important.

Pairing canine security with a handler

It is a common phrase used in canine security that a dog is only as good as its handler. This means that dog security is a partnership between the dog and its handler, and while they need to work and communicate together as a unit, most importantly, there are times when they have to work separately, know when it is best to do so, and to ensure this work is still effective.

This comes through a handler and dog getting to know each other and forming a working partnership. It may not happen straight away, and a handler may go through two or three different dogs before they choose one that responds to them properly and with whom they can form an effective partnership. This can take weeks and months in practice, but once a solid partnership and relationship has been formed, the dog and handler can move on to the three key stages of formal dog security training.

Three key stages of dog security training

These three stages are:

  • Obedience
  • Agility
  • Protection

Obedience training is ensuring the dog understands and responds to commands. This means they can be directed where to go and what to do, much like you would with training a domestic family pet, but to a much higher and stricter standard. Agility training involves fitness and how agile the dog is, so that it can be trained to run long distances and jump over walls or fences, which could be a common obstacle when working in security. Protection training means the dog is trained to bark when it senses danger or when the handler requires protection. This needs to be done in a controlled way and so that danger can be approached safely.

Training sniffer dogs

Sniffer dogs are primarily used to detect drugs or other substances at public events such as festivals, concerts or nightclubs, or at conferences and exhibitions or at airports. Dogs have strong natural instincts for this, but are trained to associate the smell with a treat or a toy. This means they react in a certain way when a smell is detected and are consistent in ‘wanting’ to detect the smell, and hence the detection ability is reliable as they are more inclined to do it if the smell association is a favourable one. The dog can be trained to be either passive or proactive when a smell is detected, and can be trained to work un-intrusively (on a lead) or proactively (off a lead).

The main benefits of this training is so that the dogs are fast, reactive, consistent and reliable. Sniffer dogs are an effective means of passive screening and are extremely effective in large areas where lots of people need to be screened quickly. They can pass between crowds of people and use their senses to detect smells, which is much quicker and more effective than a person having to manually search everyone. This provides a dual purpose level of security which comes in addition to the handler’s own security instincts.

Carrying out dog security training

A dog security training programme will begin with an assessment of the dog’s nature and abilities and what level of security it is best being trained for. Some breeds are more alert, sensitive or obedient than others, and within those breeds, individual dogs still have strengths and weaknesses. The dogs and handlers used and deployed by React K9 have all undergone NASDU accreditation, which is the highest standard of training available.

From this level of training we are able to carry out a risk assessment of your security needs and match a dog and handler to your requirements. This is based on where superior skills are required and what type of security you need. At all times you can be assured of the right level of deterrent, or passive or proactive security as appropriate, but this is always done with your agreement and cooperation, so whatever your dog security needs are, get in touch with React K9 today and we will have you covered.

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Specialist K9 security services across the UK