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Dr. Ps Dog Training

Training the High-Risk Traffic
Stop for Police Service Dogs

by Rodney Spicer (goldk9@west.net)
Gold Coast K9
Copyright © 2001

During a high-risk traffic stop, a police service dog may be sent into a vehicle, after all the occupants have been called out and placed in a secure area. Before the officer approaches the vehicle, the PSD may be sent into it for officer safety reasons, to make sure no armed or dangerous persons are lying in wait.

This is how I train the "High-Risk Traffic Stop". I begin by having the handler a few feet away from an open door of the vehicle and a decoy in the vehicle agitating the PSD. The handler should have a specific command that means to go inside a vehicle. The handler will give the command "Auto" and simultaneously release the PSD, so that he can go inside the vehicle. When the PSD is in the vehicle, the handler will give the apprehension command. After the PSD is consistently entering the vehicle, I then have the handler start sending the PSD from different locations.

Now that the PSD is clear in what the "Auto" command means, I have the handler drive up behind the training vehicle, exit their patrol unit, and using the car door as concealment, give a warning/ announcement to anyone that may be hiding in the vehicle. The announcement should be similar to: "This is the [whichever] Police Department, exit the vehicle now with your hands up, or the police dog will be sent into the vehicle. If the police dog enters the vehicle, you will be bitten." The PSD should be at the handler's side in a down position, focused on the suspect's vehicle, and silent. The reason the PSD should remain silent is so that anyone in the vehicle can hear the handler's announcement/ warning. After the announcement has been given, the handler will give the command "Auto". When the PSD is at the door of the vehicle, he should be given the apprehension command. The handler will repeat this exercise from different locations until the PSD consistently goes to and enters the vehicle.

Now that the PSD will go to the vehicle and enter with the door open, I then close the door and roll down the driver's side window. Now the PSD must jump through the open window. I want the PSD knowing that the command "Auto" means to go inside the vehicle whether the door is open or not.

Once the PSD is consistent, I will add multiple decoys in the vehicle for an added distraction. All of the decoy's will be wearing sleeves, except for the one decoy that will remain in the vehicle. The decoy remaining in the vehicle will be wearing a bite suit.

With the added distractions, I will have the handler pull up behind the training vehicle, and get into a position of concealment. The handler will give his PSD announcement/warning. During or after the announcement, a decoy will exit the vehicle and begin raising their voice and waiving their arms for an added distraction. After a few moments, the decoy(s) will begin to comply with the handler's directions. At this point, I like to have another officer take over giving the direction's to the decoy(s). This adds more distractions for the PSD, and is what will happen in a real situation. After the decoys are in a secure area behind the patrol cars, the handler will give the "Auto" command and send the PSD to the vehicle. As discussed before, when the PSD enters the vehicle he is given the apprehension command. I always have the decoy at the furthest spot from the PSD's entry point. This reinforces the PSD to go all the way in the vehicle.

This is the basic training for the "High-Risk Traffic Stop". Oftentimes we get too comfortable by doing "routine" training and by doing the same basic exercises repeatedly. We must always challenge the PSD with different distractions. What you expect is what you will get, and this is what will make a reliable 'High-Risk Traffic Stop' every time.


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