Correct selection of a K9 is a major component of the successful K9 team. Many departments end up running inferior K9 units because they fail in this very important part of the program. Choosing the wrong dog will cause the department to continually “spin their wheels.”
First, firmly establish your goals for the K9 unit/team. Do you need a dog that will be able to take down a suspect or protect the handler? Will you need a detection-only dog? How about tracking a suspect? Tracking lost persons? Explosives or narcotics work? Answering these questions beforehand will guide your selection process.
Second, purchase from a knowledgeable person/s; one that is familiar with K9 operations. You will want to know that they can guide you towards a dog that is capable of meeting your goals and criteria. Detection-only trainers will know little of temperament testing a dog needed for taking down a felon on the street.
Third, purchase from a person/company with integrity. Some ignorant and not-so-honest breeders/trainers are out there who can sugar-coat an inferior dog to make a sale. Do your homework. Ask questions. Get referrals.
A detection dog will need a prey drive and a drive to actually possess or retrieve what it’s looking for. He/she will need a strong hunting ability – to stay at the job until the target odor is found.
Bite dogs will also need prey drive plus a solid defense drive. These drives can both be improved through training but they will either have it or not. You cannot improve prey or defense if it isn’t there to begin with.
All K9s will need to have environmental stability. They will need to be solid under gunfire, on slick floors, riding in vehicles, going up and down stairs, etc. These should be tested in unfamiliar territory. Many a unit has been frustrated by selecting a dog that became nervous on linoleum or concrete floors.
Of course, the K9 will need to be healthy. Make sure you have the dog’s hips x-rayed and/or get a copy of x-rays. A pedigree can help to weed out inferior hips. Be sure the parents and beyond have a solid history of good hips. A K9 is a working dog that will take will be active, agile, and will take a pounding from time to time. Make sure his/her frame and health can withstand the type of work you’re looking to accomplish.
These are given as a introductory overview of the selecting a good K9. Conifer Canine can help provide you with a solid dog to meet your goals. Contact us today for sales and/or training.