In my opinion. Departments, Agencies and Trainers are lagging in the area of utilizing the muzzle effectively.
Define Effective – successful in producing a desired or intended result – impressive; striking
The muzzle should not be a prelude to visual stimulis. It needs to be applied in all areas of a Working Canine. I have written newsletters in the past about how important the muzzle is in canine work. This newsletter will include details on how I incorporate it into all areas of training.
I start muzzle training as soon as the muzzle fits the canine when the canine reaches approximately 4 – 5 months of age. I make sure the canine is neutral across the board before any training begins. At this stage, the canine must eat and drink in a muzzle, as well as, socialize in the muzzle. This only takes 2 – 3 days for the canine to adapt.
“It is important that the foundation of muzzle work starts with canine utilizing Hunt while muzzle is on”
Typically, I introduce the muzzle during bite foundation as a puppy, to overload the Fight drive early on in the puppy stage. During 5 – 6 months of age I conduct intro to muzzle:
After odor imprint is successful without the muzzle, the muzzle is then applied and I do it all over again. It is important NOT to start the patrol side (building search) until canine understands that using its nose is what’s expected.
I also apply muzzle utilization during tracking as well. Granted it may only be a 200 – 300 yard track, but it is essential for the canine to understand full sight picture of a track without handler being too involved. And, any type of training that involves a bite suit, equipment fixation sets in and sometimes this “equipment drive” can mask the true behavior your canine will exhibit in a real deployment. So the sight picture for your canine needs to be pieced together as much as possible during training.
In muzzle training the true essence of your canine’s drives surfaces. There are three important drives in a police working canine: 1) Hunt Drive – Hunt drive is the instinctive desire to hunt, the core of a working canine. If a canine exhibits a low or virtually no desire to hunt, no amount of training will be effective for multi-purpose work and incorporating muzzle during detection will not be easy.
2) Defense Drive – Defense Drive is what starts the fight and keeps your canine sharp. Defense drive puts a little fear into the battle. There should be no hesitation for your canine to engage if it has the chance too. Timing is crucial in the foundation stage, it’s important for the canine to make a decision, without the help of the handler. Once again, to much equipment used during foundation work sets the tone for the future.
3) Fight drive – Fight drive is what keeps the canine engaged in biting with poise. Before canines are ready for police work they must conduct a muzzle fight with a totally passive decoy for at least 5 minutes without handler/trainer help. Remember, no equipment involved so you are truly witnessing fight drive.
Tip of the Month (Morton Method): Instead of canine handlers attending advanced courses with their canines, how about attending individual skill courses? A canine handler needs to be a tactician, a canine handler needs to be an individual who is confident in working with any team or individual, no matter the SOP and support multiple departments and other agencies as well. So it is imperative for a canine handler to be confident in their movement, as well as, with their canine. If a canine handler is smooth, then their canine will follow suit.
CANINE TACTICAL NEWS UPDATE
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- 2017 HITS WAS A SUCCESS: “THE CHRIS FARLEY” IMPRESSION WAS RESTORED…THE MORTON METHOD (HIP LEAD) CLASS DREW INTEREST…AND A MOD 3 BALLISTIC VEST WAS WON IN THE GRAND-PRIZE RAFFLE…
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CANINE GIDEON AND APOLLO
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Ok i have a question. How does the dog eat and drink with the muzzle on. There isnt an opening.
The holes at the front and bottom of the Ray Allen style muzzle (we use): the canine uses for air circulation, drinking and eating…Yes the water bowl has to be deep and the canine learns to push the muzzle down into dish so water goes thru holes. As for the feeding ….It is fed thru the holes by the trainers.