This video has been making the rounds and for good reason. I am amazed at the kind of dog handling you see in the wild.
For those who don’t know, I spent 9 years as a military working dog handler and handler. My last job in the Marine Corps was as the Marines’ Chief Working Dog Instructor. I have trained and supervised the training of dozens of dogs. From bomb dogs to drug dogs, attack dogs, tracking dogs and so on. I have certified both military working dogs and civilian police department dogs.
Over the years I have seen some really horrible driving techniques and almost all of them can be seen in this video. I’m not going to go into the super-technical stuff you see here, but let me tell you, it’s rubbish. Everything you are doing managed to be wrong. All.
1. When the video starts, on the first turn, he goes too wide with his hand and almost throws the dog to make that turn. There are times to make wide turns, but this is not the case. He has his left hand pulling back on the leash taut and his right hand loose. When the leash is taut and pulled back, the dog’s natural instinct is to move forward. It’s called the opposition reflex.
Oppositional reflex is a term used in animal behavior to describe an animal’s automatic, instinctive response to resist pressure applied to a part of its body by pushing or pulling in the opposite direction.
For example, if you push down on a dog’s hindquarters, the dog will automatically push back with its hind legs. If you try to move a cat’s paw away from a surface, the cat will instinctively resist by flexing its claws and pushing back with its paw.
The opposition reflex is a protective mechanism that helps animals maintain balance and stability. The reflex is often used in animal training to teach behaviors such as walking on a leash, staying still to groom, or standing on a platform. By understanding and working with an animal’s oppositional reflex, trainers can encourage cooperation and reduce stress in the animal.
This handler is working against the reflex that is working against the dog.
2. The idea of throwing the dog in a wide circle is to teach it to go around an object it is looking for. They go up and down rows of luggage or whatever. When they are circling, you want a slightly wider turn so that the scent cone is right in the dog’s face from any direction.
A scent cone is a three-dimensional area of scent that an animal spreads as it moves, releasing odor molecules from its body. This cone-shaped scent plume can be used by animals such as dogs, cats, and many other animals to track and locate prey or other animals.
For animals with a well-developed sense of smell, such as dogs, the scent cone can be a powerful tool for locating prey or other animals. By following the scent cone, an animal can track the direction and distance of the animal it is following, even if it cannot see it. In some cases, animals can even use the scent cone to track an animal that has moved through the area hours or even days before, depending on the age and strength of the scent. When manipulated, this natural instinct is what helps find bombs, drugs, or people. It’s honestly crazy how these dogs work.
When I did demonstrations for kids at school, I always compared finding smells to finding colors. If you can teach a dog to find blue and yellow, he will find green. If you can teach yellow and red, orange will also be known. Yellow is grass. Then the dog can also find orange hash. There are 9 main types of explosives, if you teach them to find those nine, they can basically find any type of explosive, even homemade explosives.
3. Pull the leash to let people through. The dog should not be outside if he cannot hear basic commands like heel or stop. It’s the basics of the basics.
4. Many dogs hate walking on shiny, slippery floors. You make it worse by sliding them all over the joint.
5. Change hands, turn and pull the dog. The dog is getting so many mixed signals that it must be beyond frustrating. He can’t do what he was trained to do because the handler is too incompetent to hold a leash and it confuses him.
There’s a lot more wrong with this video, but you get the point.
Fortunately, the TSA has taken the guy off dog handling duties while they do the investigation, which should just be watching the video. I know several top K9 trainers and they are pissed off about what happened. I would be too It’s embarrassing when videos of people doing stupid things come out.
My first response was “Jesus Christ. What the hell is he doing?” And I imagine that was what his future former bosses also thought.