BY SGT. JOE MAURO 308
The police community has seen the use of canines in the day to day activity of fighting crime. It is a far cry from the bloodhounds used to track Cool Hand Luke when he would escape from the chain gang. We no longer have chain gangs, we have trustees who show “good behavior” so they can get out of the jail during good weather and pick up garbage along the roads in the county.
Today we have trained canine helpers to specialize in one area, such as tracking, drug detection, food detection at points of entry, crowd control, building searches and so on. If the sense of smell can be used to detect illegal activity, there is a canine specialty for it.
But we have seen an influx of canines used in multiple disciplines. For instance the Miami County Sheriff’s Office has a canine officer, Deputy Tina Waymire whose partner Nero is a tracking dog as well as a drug sniffing specialist. Tipp City Police Sgt. Greg Adkins handles Gitta, also a multipurpose patrol dog. Both dogs are very successful in finding drugs, missing children and adults, pursuing criminals and with their presence, simply scaring would be fighters into submission.
With the use of the canine officers, comes a downside. When the human officer is working a case or is on station doing paperwork or any myriad number of related police activity not requiring the canine officer, what to do with the dog? At TCPD as well as the Sheriff’s Office, there are cages on station with food and water bowls. At times, the dog is allowed to roam the offices, interacting with the officers. Sgt. Adkins tells the story of finding Gitta with an aluminum wrapper from an energy bar. He asked if I used those when my sugar was low and I confirmed that indeed I did keep a bar or two in my desk. I had to purchase a new supply because Gitta found them, opened the drawer and had a snack.
But if we have a suspect to be interviewed or a prisoner on station, we cannot allow Gitta in the building, as it may be claimed the dog was used to intimidate a confession. As ridiculous as that may sound, the defense attorney will use any trick to muddy the true facts of the case.
So I will speak to the Tipp City Canine Cruiser, assigned to Sgt. Adkins and Gitta solely for their use. Let me tell you, after a wet dog has been in a confined cruiser for a shift, no other officer would want to use the car anyway. We presently use a Ford Crown Victoria Police Pursuit Package, outfitted specifically for Sgt. Adkins and Gitta.
Sgt. Adkins sits in the front seat and drives, leaving the back seat for Gitta. At one time it was thought that a SUV was a good canine vehicle, giving the dog more room to move around and allowing the back seat to still hold prisoners with the dog in the rear/cargo area. This over the years has been phased out, due to the dogs having to jump up and down to get in and out of the rear. Police were seeing an early death/disability rate among these dogs, developing hip and joint problems; their bodies wore out early.
So police departments have gone back to using sedans which sit much lower and do not wear on the hips and joints as much. When we purchased Gitta and Patrolman Greg Adkins became the Canine Officer, Dr. Martin English, DVM started a fund drive as “Friends of the TCPD K9” program. The program was an effort to equip the TCPD Canine car with top of the line accessories to keep Gitta safe. The donations were handled by the Tipp Monroe Community Services people to keep everything above board and transparent.
I recently interviewed now Sgt. Greg Adkins, who kept canine Gitta as his partner when he was promoted. Sgt. Adkins studied the canine cruiser inserts, heat alarm detection systems and selected a system called “Hot Dog”, designed by Criminalistics.
The heat alarm has a maximum and minimum temperature that is preset to activate if those temperatures are reached. When the heat alarm is activated, the overhead emergency lights are turned on, the horn begins sounding to alert anyone around that the dog may be in trouble. Along with the lights and horn, the rear windows, where the canine is located, will lower and a large fan will activate, blowing large amounts of fresh air through the insert area of the car. The dog cannot escape, as the insert has a perforated shield blocking any egress.
You may see the canine cruiser parked at the scene of a crime with the engine running. This is an allowance for the canine to be kept cool from the air conditioner. In the event that the air conditioner fails or the cruiser shuts down, again the heat alarm will activate and make sure Gitta is not enclosed in oven type conditions. While inside the cruiser on patrol, the air conditioner duct on the dash board has one duct dedicated to sending air via a tube, into the canine compartment. When the dog is worked, they begin to overheat, just like humans, only they sweat through their nose and pads on their feet. Having her own air flow allows her to cool down more quickly than without it. This helps to prevent heat exhaustion for the dog.
The cost of the equipment to prevent tragedy as we have seen in Mercer County, Camden, N.J. and Nottinghamshire, England recently was $800. Considering the expense of the dog, the initial training, upkeep and continuous in-service training, that was actually a very reasonable cost. It goes without saying what the emotional loss a police department and community feels when they lose member of the department. Gitta is a protector of not only her handler, but of the society in which she and Sgt. Adkins diligently strive to do their duty.
Storie McKnight is one of four Ultimate Air Dog competitors to perform in preliminary jumps on the afternoon of Monday, August 25 with three dogs then advancing to the on-air competition to be shown on the Late Show with David Letterman in NY that same evening. Be sure to tune in with a big show of support for our favorite jumper! Go Storie!!!
By Paula Garber, AVA
As a Puppy Parent you have taken on a very rewarding job. You have the opportunity to guide your puppy into becoming a confident and loved member of your family.
The past and most common theory has been that you must be the "Alpha" dog of your "dog pack." This outdated theory usually entails dominating your puppy both physically and mentally. It is theorized that you need to dominate your puppy at all times and be prepared to stop any challenge that your puppy may make toward your "alpha" role. It is assumed, by this theory, that your puppy is constantly thinking of ways to stage a coup and take over leadership.
We have since realized that the "alpha theory" is incorrect and that there is a much simpler explanation for why your dog misbehaves--he has not been taught the correct behavior. Although "pack rules" apply to the relationship between dogs, they do not apply to a person. Your puppy knows you are not a dog. The dominance theory is simply unnecessary and may prevent you from enjoying the broad relationship you can have with your puppy.
Now that we have disposed of the idea that your puppy is constantly trying to take over the human world, we can begin to build a positive relationship between you and your puppy.
The following are 10 things that we know about dogs (edited from Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson):
Part of being fair is understanding the previously mentioned dog characteristics. We ask our dogs to live in a human world, follow human rules and give up many of their normal dog behaviors. We should be fair in our expectations and understand what motivates our dogs.
Being a Good Teacher
Being a good teacher is not about domination or forcing your will on others. It is about taking responsibility, not only for making decisions but also for taking care of your "students." As a teacher it is your job to sort out things when they go wrong.
Imagine that you are on an airplane and you discover tha the pilot has never flown a plane before. Things begin to go wrong, the plane dips, warning lights go on and your pilot is hiding in the restroom. You lose confidence and begin to look for a new person to guide you out of the unpredictable situation. You need to show your puppy that he can have confidence in you and that you will take care of things--especially when things go wrong.
A teacher should give consistent guidance and not provide fear. Your job is to guide your puppy into making the right decisions by controlling what he learns. A fundamental method of doing this is through supervision. Don't allow your puppy to learn that grabbing your child's clothes will make the child dance around squealing with what the puppy thinks is delight. Instead, teach your puppy to sit at the child's feet for a food treat. We spend an enormous amount of time telling our puppies "No, no, bad dog" but we don't guide them into making a decision that will be rewarded. Don't waste your time telling your puppy what not to do. Instead teach him what to do.
Lack of consistency and predictability are two of the main precursors for behavior problems. Imagine that one day you went to work and your boss told you what a wonderful employee that you were. Five minutes later he was ranting and screaming at you for no apparent reason. Later, he tells you how much he values you. This environment would create anxiety and distrust. Many times this is the very environment we create for our dogs. They cannot predict how we will react.
Be a Good Communicator
Your job is to tell your puppy when he is doing something that you like by rewarding the behavior. A behavior will be reapeated if it is rewarded. If a behavior is not rewarded, it will go away. You have less than one second to communicate to your puppy that a behavior is correct.
There will rarely, if ever, be a time that you need to discipline your puppy. You should never have to "enforce" obedience, it will be given willingly when your puppy trusts and respects you. Trust and respect will come from your consistent and predictable interactions, ability to communicate accurately which behaviors will be rewarded and the ability to teach the behaviors you want your puppy to learn.
If your puppy is performing a behavior that could hurt himself or others, stop the behavior and get your puppy out of the situation before he learns something that you don't want him to learn. Sit down and decide what behavior you should teach to prevent the behavior from occurring again. Don't physically discipline him--which will only increase aggression and fear. Instead, guide him into a more appropriate behavior that you can reward.
You and your puppy are a team. His job is to offer behaviors and your job is to pick behaviors to be rewarded. Only when you understand how your puppy thinks and learns will you gain his trust and respect.
This information has been given as a brief overview of how to be a good Puppy Parent. However, many of us have not used these methods before and we need to retrain ourselves before attempting to communicate with our puppies. Please let us know if you have any questions or need additional instruction in applying behavior-based training methods.
References and Suggested Reading:
1. Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson
2. Don't Shoot the Dogs: The New Art of Teaching and Training
3. Clicking with your Dogs, Peggy Tillman
4. The Perfect Puppy: How to Raise a Well-Behaved Dog, B. Bailey
5. Pupply Training for Kids, S. Whitehead
Visit www.dogwise.com for availability of the above titles.