The Bitey End of the Dog

Alex and Will Sessa - Living and Working With a Police Dog

October 17, 2022 Michael Shikashio CDBC Season 3 Episode 32
The Bitey End of the Dog
Alex and Will Sessa - Living and Working With a Police Dog
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever wondered what it is like training, working with, and living with a police dog? If so, then this is the episode for you! I have the opportunity to chat with Alex and Will Sessa for this episode of Fresh Bites on The Bitey End of the Dog. Alex is an experienced and successful dog trainer who owns Peach On a Leash, and Will is a an experienced and successful police canine trainer with over 15 years of service. Talk about a dynamic duo! I am sure you will enjoy hearing about what life is like in the Sessa home, living with a blend of working and pet dogs, and two young children as well!

For additional resources on helping dogs with aggression, visit:
https://aggressivedog.com

Here is the special link to The Aggression in Dogs Master Course and Expert Webinar Bundle. Offer expires on 11/1/22.
https://aggressivedog.thinkific.com/bundles/the-aggression-in-dogs-master-course-and-expert-webinar-bundle

About Alex:

Peach on a Leash® is a full-service dog training company based in Alpharetta, Georgia and serving Metro Atlanta and its northern suburbs, from Midtown to Cumming.

Utilizing the most modern, science-based training techniques, head trainer and pet behavior expert Alex Sessa, CPDT-KA, CDBC and her team of certified, highly experienced trainers will deliver the results you’re looking for.

We provide your dog with a positive and effective learning experience that provides quick results and dramatically improves behavior while strengthening your bond with your dog.

Regardless of your dog’s breed or behavior issues, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your dog responds to our training.

https://peachonaleash.com/

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Michael Shikashio:

Have you ever wondered what it's like training working with and living with a police dog? If so, then this is the episode for you. I have the opportunity to chat with Alex and will cessa for this episode of fresh bites on the by the end of the dog. Alex is an experienced and successful dog trainer who owns peach on a leash. And will is an experienced and successful police canine trainer with over 15 years of experience. Talk about a dynamic duo. I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing about what life is like an assessor home, living with a blend of working and pet dogs and two young children as well. And if you are interested in hearing more about applicable and immediate steps you can use with your own dog or in your cases. I just launched a subscription series called Help for dogs with aggression, which is an additional format to this podcast where I walk you through a variety of aggression issues and how to solve them. You'll find a little subscribe button on Apple podcasts where the buddy ended or the dog is listed. Hey everyone, this week, I have two special guests with me, Alex and will Sesa, they are both trainers. And we've got an exciting topic to talk about this week working dogs, police dogs and also pet dogs and how all of that ties together. And the interesting thing about will and Alex is they are Osman wife that are doing this and they're living with these kinds of dogs and they have sort of this unique aspect or this perspective of understanding what's involved when we're talking about working dogs and pet dogs. Give you a little bit of background will is a former law enforcement officer with 15 years of experience seven years in the canine unit handling a lot of dogs among them Hummer who we're going to talk about in a little bit eight year old Belgian Malinois. He was a trainer for the Forsyth County Sheriff's department's the sort of lead trainer I guess would be correct. Well, to say that, yes, and heading up that excellent and lots of background and control and working in narcotics detection. So he's got a training background and extensive one as well as Alex, who is a CPD at ke CtbC. Victoria is still all positive dog trainer. She owns peach on a leash, she's IWC certified. I've known Alex for a while. She's also been a guest writer for the aggressive dog.com blog and contributing a lot of her expertise on leash reactivity. So go check out that article when you have time. And they also have Daisy a 12 year old is it a Labradoodle? You said, yeah,

Unknown:

she's an Australian Labradoodle,

Michael Shikashio:

Australian Labradoodle. And that mix as well. And how many children do you have,

Unknown:

we have two children, we have a two year old and an eight month old, so a son and a daughter.

Michael Shikashio:

So you guys are keeping yourself busy. It's interesting, this dynamic with two, you know, two trainers in the same hole, I'm kind of living in the same type of thing, although my kids are grown. So I don't have that the young ones to worry about as much. But my girlfriend, she is a trainer, separation, anxiety trainer, a veterinarian as well. And so we have kind of common interest as well in terms of dog behavior and training. So tell me about a little bit about how you guys met and how this all came about and how you guys were like two trainers living together suddenly.

Unknown:

So it was really kind of fate we were well, I was working on a series about working dogs and the guys that we're working with, with the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office, they're like, Oh, you gotta meet this guy. So so they were just like talking about him. And I was like, I'm not interested in the sky. Like, I've met all you cops. Like, I don't want to date one of you guys. But then we did end up meeting actually at a funeral for a dog of all things. Police dog. What Why are you laughing? No. It was no, it was really sad. But you know, we just hit it off. And we had so much in common. So we were filming about police dogs. And we were kind of embedded in this canine unit. And then we'll obviously worked for a different canine unit. So it was really interesting. It was an interesting time, I think for us to come together because I was very much ingrained in that world. And I was working for Victoria Stilwell at the time. And basically what we were trying to determine was the way that police dogs are have been traditionally trained, you know, is there a different way moving forward? Like what kind of way is the working dog world moving towards and just trying to learn about the needs of these law enforcement officers? What do they need from their dogs and what makes a good police dog what makes a safe police dog and it was so fascinating to be in that world. I just think that without truly being embedded in it and living in it you just really don't know and obviously being married to will kind of took things to a different level to of really being embedded in the life of a law enforcement family and just seeing again, like what what these dogs are capable of and and what is needed for them to be safe.

Michael Shikashio:

We'll do agree on how you guys met.

Unknown:

I do agree on how we met 100% She left a couple of finer details out. But that's fine. My memory is probably better than hers. So I actually started with the Habersham County Sheriff's Office in 2006. And that's in northeast Georgia. And she was working with quite a few different canine units and filming the series. And one of those was in hammer Sham. And if anybody knows anything about how to Sham everybody knows everybody. So she was doing that I just come on, what year was it that you started that series, I literally don't even know what day it is today, like, let alone Tuesday. But nonetheless, I started with my dog in 2014, we started dating, I think 2016. So I had, we knew a lot of the same people and had been running in the same circles. And then a canine by the name of Falco, tragically passed away. And I knew the handler, that dog and I ended up going to that service. And Alex was already working with those people. So she was at the service as well. And then afterwards, we connected after the funeral, I definitely didn't hit on her at the funeral, we connected after the funeral, and began to what we have today.

Michael Shikashio:

So busy life right now, with kids with dogs, as you know, it's it's I think it's gonna be an interesting thing to talk about, about managing that kind of environment with dogs. But that's, that's I think the burning question a lot of people are going to have is the differences in training methodologies, or maybe not so much in the training methodologies. And, you know, it's, it's a topic that I think isn't understood very deeply, even with dog trainers sometimes, because let's face it, it's a whole different world of training are all different aspects that we might not have access to all the time, or we might not have the resources of where to learn about that. So from your experience, maybe you guys can expand upon that. What are you seeing now? And what did you see before in terms of the differences and similarities and training?

Unknown:

Well, for me, I think being embedded in that world was very helpful for me to see again, like what people what these law enforcement officers need from their dogs in terms of, there's so much pressure for that perfection for that perfect recall, for being able to trust that a dog can let go from a bite. But I think that what I found the most interesting is that these dogs are not aggressive. If you have a dog that is biting people unprovoked or in an aggressive manner, that is a major concern in a police dog. So these dogs are not intended to be aggressive dogs, what they're looking for dogs that are highly motivated, and have intrinsically motivated to enjoy the game of tug to enjoy biting on things in a game format, which is why they're initially taught, you know, on equipment and things like that, it's really not about go and hurt that person. It's just essentially a tug game that's kind of made into a specific working ability. But I guess the biggest thing is, well, and I don't really train differently, we just apply the same techniques in the ways that we need them. So I wouldn't say that there's a lot of differences. I mean, we're using the same general methods, we're just teaching them for different purposes. So we teach recalls the same way. There's no aversive methods that were ever used when he was training the dogs in his canine unit. So, you know, when they're working on recalls, they're using high value rewards. But for these dogs, those rewards are probably a con or a game of tug. So they they certainly utilize food. And that was something well was able to incorporate, especially in kind of the obedience work was using food, which I think has sort of been this taboo topic of oh, it's not good to use food. It's sort of seen as this weaker element to training. But I think well can speak to the results that they saw when they started to incorporate food for some of their obedience routines. He was seeing way better reliability from the dogs than just using toys alone. So I think sometimes it can be scary when you are working in this high pressure kind of working dog scenario to start incorporating that, but it was something that they found to be very helpful. So it's a lot of the same debates that we have, we get a lot of the same questions from the people that we're working with. Should we do it this way? Is this good? Is this bad, but at the end of the day, we're kind of looking for the same results will the dog come when I call him whether it's me trying to get a pet dog to not run into the street, or he is trying to make sure a dog can recall away from a dog a person that does not need to bite. So the stakes are just different. So I'll circle back to the food aspect of it in a second. What's most interesting there there was a time before will the trainer where Will was just a handler and then the time after When I started to learn more about the actual science behind dog training, to give people a little bit of perspective, now, every state is different. Some states have state required canine handler programs. And some do not. Georgia, the state of Georgia does not have a state recognized standard for a canine handler, school or trainer school or anything else like that. But if you go down to Florida, Florida Department of law enforcement or FTL II, they actually require it's like a 480 hour course just to become a canine handler, which is, I wish a lot more states would go to something like that. Because when you go to a four or a six week handler course, you come out knowing the bare minimum, there's not really a lot of time, there's been time to teach the dog to imprint the dog on the odor of narcotics, to work on verbal outs and to work on recalls and to work on obedience. But by no stretch of the imagination, after four or six weeks, are you really ready to be deployable on the streets, the dog can certify. But does that make it really street ready, that's the same for cops, you send cops to a, you know, a police academy for family every weeks, it was 16 weeks, I think at the time when I went. But then when you get back, they don't throw you in a car and throw you out on the streets. They're like, Okay, you need some more training, you need some more grooming. And so you go through FTO programs, and shadow phases. So once I got through all that, I made a lot of errors. And I made a lot of mistakes. And I did things the way that I was shown how to do them. And then there was the time after trainer school. And there was the time after Alex actually opened my eyes to more the science based training, and actually would explain it because when you go to school, sometimes depending on the caliber, the school and the time that they have to train, they don't get into operant conditioning, they don't get into positive and negative reinforcement. They don't talk about any of that you just kind of you're doing it, but they don't really explain it to you. But they're out there on really, really tight line timelines to get these dogs out and get these handlers out. Because agencies don't want to put somebody out of work for you know, three or four months, they need that person at work. So I think the other thing worth mentioning, too, in terms of dogs is it's not always these perfectly polished dogs, I mean, especially these departments that have lower budgets are often using repurpose military working dogs that have their own traumas that have been through a very different environment in terms of what they're used to. And now they're kind of thrown into this civilian law enforcement, lifestyle. And it can be very dangerous to put a green handler with a dog like that. And a lot of times it is very much, you know, a financial issue. So there's just so much that that goes into it, it's much more complicated than I think it can appear to be on the outside. And, and the food portion of it, you know, once I became a trainer, and I learned a lot more, and then I started talking to Alex, because, you know, now I was actually in her world. And she's talking to me, Well, what about this? What about this, and I'm like, Oh, well, I've got a lot more to learn. So I kept learning on the science of dog training. And then looking toward the food reward thing, which I said, I'd circle back on, what I found most interesting about switching to a food reward, especially for obedience is the dog was more receptive. And the handler actually was having fun training their dog, which was great to see because they were actually enjoying getting to train their dog. Because the before if the dog wasn't doing what they wanted to do, all they knew to do is crank and yank on the leash crank and yank on the leash and just lease corrections and the same old stuff. And then after a while, I'm like, Okay, let me show you another way. And then they got into doing food rewards, and they were excited, they were happy, and the dogs were excited, and they were happy. And you could tell there wasn't that frustration and that stress traveling up and down the lead back and forth, and actually found a lot of bad habits to sorry to interrupt you. But we would constantly see, you and I both we would talk about this chronic issue of correcting a dog before it even had the chance to perform a behavior. So you would often see especially handlers when they're really nervous. And they really knew when they would make these terms, they would just kind of take the leash with them and the dog didn't even have a chance to get it right. And we would just say wait, just hold on a second and just hold on one second, I want you to just turn and we would either have them put the leash around their waist so that they couldn't hold it or we could have just kind of just different tricks like that so that they wouldn't be tempted to pop the leash. And we would have them turn and the dog would happily turn with them. So I think that's something that I see in pet dog handling as well. It can be a bad one. habit that people get into is they're not even giving their dog the opportunity to get it right, we tend to sometimes get in these habits of just kind of correcting before we actually give the dog a chance to do it. So especially for clients that maybe had a past history of that being kind of the way that they worked on leash walking, it can be really hard to undo some of those things. So I think for both of us, just focusing on rewarding the behavior that we want that dog to repeat, and giving them a chance to do, it has been something that we've found super helpful.

Michael Shikashio:

So it sounds like Alex has had quite an influence. And the later years of your training will and I can speak from a standpoint of coming from a balanced what we call a balanced background, or traditional training background, using a versus and shifting over to what I'm doing now is positive reinforcement based methods. So it sounds like that, as part of the the overall picture here. And you know, I guess my question is for you guys probably have great insight into this other than being married, how can we get that information out to the trainers that are working with police dogs, because as we might recognize, there is still a lot of traditional or aversive based techniques used in that particular type of training.

Unknown:

So to get that information out, it's going to take somebody like yourself with, you know, a podcast like this to get that ball rolling, to be quite honest. Because like I said, the vendors that put the schools on, don't necessarily always have the time to do a weak block based on you know, operant conditioning, they just don't have the time to talk about the positives and negatives. And when I say that, in this sense, I mean, good and Bad's of the different training methodologies and styles and how if you're just punish, punish, punish, punish? How can you ever expect the dog to do what you want it to do? It's just going to keep guessing until it finally gets it right. But you haven't really taught the dog know, you've just suppressed behavior suppress behavior. So that's what I always put across my guys, I was like, you're actually teaching instead of just correcting the behavior, because now you can actually teach it, show the dog and teach the dog what you want to do, and it'll be more likely to repeat that behavior. So it's just gonna take a lot of big loud voices that have a wide reach, in my opinion, to show the importance to the nation of canine trainers and vendors of that information. Unless you have a different opinion, no, I think it's really just about trainers and law enforcement, like cops just seeing each other practicing this and seeing it working. So I think it's about people that can train effectively without the use of a versus being able to do that, because I do think that it's this issue that we all deal with, of if we're using food, if we're using positive based methods is somehow weaker, it's somehow less effective. And there's, as we all know, there's just no research to back that up that it's any less effective than using more of that those traditional methodologies. So I think that's what it comes down to is just cop seeing other cops doing it. And it not being embarrassing and not being like not a cool thing to do. I just think that it's going to be kind of the the final frontier in terms of starting to change behavior, human behavior, so that it's just like, not so uncool. I think that the biggest barrier to that there's two, one is the culture with how quickly the vendors are being pushed to push out dogs, handlers and trainers. And until they can get agencies to realize that it's worth the investment for that handler or that dog or that trainer to be out of work for an extended period of time, they're going to come back a better product. That's going to be one thing. The other thing is, okay, if we can't do it during the schools during the handler, schools or the trainer's schools, then how do we get it out to the people post school? Those are the two biggest things that we got to figure it out.

Michael Shikashio:

Yeah, you guys mentioned something very important is coming from within the community, because it's a lot harder to break into communities. Yeah. Especially the police handlers, at least in my experience, and seeing that and having those conversations if so, well, there you go. Like, right, yeah, you're next.

Unknown:

I think it's also an issue of when we have typically these handlers are getting dogs when they're like right out of adolescence. So they're hitting like, you know, 1011 12 months. So we have these dogs that are not necessarily in their best phase of life in terms of impulse control, and they're typically started with relatively aversive methods overall. So a lot of times these dogs have this sort of punishment callus where they're just kind of used to it to an extent. So like over in the UK, typically they are starting those dogs as puppies in a reward based program, and the handlers are working with the puppies from puppy hood. So we have that bond developing, even in those very early weeks. And they're kind of an in house the way that they do it. So that was something that when we were filming guardians, I remember Victoria talking about how different their programs were over there. And I do think that that's another issue that has to be just kind of kept in mind is that we are keeping, you know, these dogs are not getting started with their handlers until they're at least in adolescence, if not already adults, and already have this background of this more aversive training typically.

Michael Shikashio:

So it sounds also cultural, meaning how we're approaching the training methods and aspects. And as far as cultural and the community in which those dogs are, when I say community and like the environment of trainers that they're surrounded by. So let's talk a little bit more since this is an aggression podcast. Let's talk a little bit more about that aspect of it. And you made a really important point earlier, Alex is about, it's actually for police dog work, we're actually not looking for that aggressive intent, how we might define that construct, where the dog is trying doing it born out of a place of fear, or the typical emotions that we would see in aggression cases. And so that made me think a little bit I'm like, okay, so family with two children, two dogs, how do we manage that, but actually makes sense that it would be a significant fault for a dog to display aggression in the true sense towards family members or to visitors, but just still requires some control in some aspects? Because I imagine let's say somebody breaks into your house and starts like, screaming at you and coming over to you, what's your dog going to do? And so can you talk more about that and the differences but like, what we would define as behavior Consultants is like an aggression case versus handling a dog with a police training background.

Unknown:

Yeah, I think we're looking at biting as very much an operant behavior. In this case, it's definitely not sort of an emotion driven. If we're looking at a fearful police dog, it's an unsound police dog. If we have any sort of bytes that are not sort of asked for and warranted, then that's a big red flag and that dog really should not be in that world. And I think we're very fortunate with hammer because he actually grew up in Oh, my gosh, I'm blanking helped me well, in Holland. Yep, there it is. And he was raised in a home with a family with kids. And he was their personal dog that they were competing. What's it called? kN PB? Yeah. So that's like, I guess they're kind of shuts and equivalent over there. So he was a sport dog, essentially. So he had all of the skills of a police dog, but an excellent background and socialization. So he is an amazing family dog. He's a bit of a bull in a china shop, but he's very friendly. So he is really gentle with the kids, we absolutely never leave them on attended together, we are always right there. And with the baby especially like he doesn't ever have direct access to her. But we'll let our toddler throw the ball. For him. We're very careful about the direction he throws and stuff because homers really crazy about catching the ball and stuff. So we have to be just very careful in managing it. But he is, to me the perfect example of what a police dog should be when you think about just the stimulus control of a dog that is able to only bite when specifically asked to do so I mean, that for him is just he would absolutely never unless he was specifically asked to and even then I think the context would have to be there for him. If you just said his bite cue, then I don't think that he would just go and bite the first thing that was there. It's really all about that context of okay, I'm being targeted on to a specific person, I've been released to go and bite the person, I think that it is all based around that context. So I do think that it's so critical to understand that these dogs are not inherently aggressive, they are initially taught to really enjoy the game of tug on a bite sleeve a lot of times they'll start with the sleeve just on the ground, and then they'll build it up to being on an arm. And of course one of the hardest things is fading that away so a lot of times they'll do a hidden sleeve or they'll do something that really mimics human human skin because there's some dogs that will not bite unless it is an actual piece of obvious equipment. So I think it can be that can be one of the most difficult things is actually when you have a dog that is not aggressive kind of transferring that to a more realistic situation is something that can be hard but but yeah I'm these dogs are not biting because they're angry or emotional or upset or fearful.

Michael Shikashio:

Kind of I'm gonna piggyback off that and direct the next question towards will to and his experience of the type of training and so you mentioned like more of an operating situation more of a almost a game of grabbing on to the tugs leave and then eventually the person but some times with protection training. I had friends microbrews Oh on last season about talking about the type of work he does, where it's, it's developing that dog sort of innate innate behavior to protect their owner. Not all dogs are capable of this, just like not all dogs are capable of being police dogs, where the the handlers threatened and there's no training actually done at all, where the dog's natural response to protect their handler comes out. And that could be anywhere from just body blocking the person away or jumping up or barking all the way up to biting that person. So we can reasonably argue it's not quite operant there is some emotional response happening or underlying emotion, not so much fear. But basically, it's a Malinois for instance, doing what a Malinois does or a Doberman does? So a slightly different or maybe not, maybe we'll Can you give me your thoughts on that in terms of the type of different training and what Hummer would do, let's say Hummer, you, you, somebody breaks into your home and again, threatens Alex, what's Hummer going to do? If you said nothing.

Unknown:

So without there being context, because the way that he was trained, and also starting in the sport dog world, which is 100% control based, that's one of the problems we have when we bring dogs over from overseas that started in sport dog is they have way too much control. And for police work, we have to air quote, dirty them up a little bit, so that they and what that really means is give them independence. Because in the sport dog world, they don't really have a choice, the only choice is the choice that that their handler gives to them. So we have to teach them that they can work independently. So if someone broke into my home, and Homer was in his kennel, he probably wouldn't know number one. And then number two, if they went and they did encounter him, he would he probably just stare at them, which is actually very creepy. He has zero emotion. He'll just he'll just stare at people. And it freaks people out because he doesn't wag his tail. He mouse stays closed, and everything you know about normal dog. None of it, I did stare straight into your eyes. And it freaks people out, which was great when he was working. But you know,

Michael Shikashio:

if 1000 Mal was at any time doing that, to me, I'm going to respect that. Yeah, so he's doing his job. It works. It works.

Unknown:

I believe there's probably something you know, innate in the dogs that also drives that that likelihood to bite. Genetics always plays a role. You know, you're talking about a herding breed, as well. So I think that does play a part. It's it's not all 100% operant? For sure.

Michael Shikashio:

So in those And along those lines, if we start talking about like the dog sports again, and your both your experience there. It sounds like we also need to have the right dogs for that. But in terms of the aggression, if we're seeing it there, it's also not a good thing, when it's it's not in the same opera. And since we're using it in the dog sports world, is that would that be an accurate statement?

Unknown:

Yeah, I would say so. I mean, I think like comes down to that same with these dogs we want them to be, we want them to see it as much of a game as possible, versus it being this more emotion based behavior. Yeah. And I explained that to people when they come out to public demos that we do. And they're like, Oh, I mean, these dogs are so dangerous, and they're aggressive. And I stopped them. I'm like, Well, let me just explain this to you. They have no clue, which is even kind of worse. In my mind. The dogs have no clue as to the damage they are causing to a person when they bite them. They literally think you are just one big toy that I've given them permission to go play fetch with. And people are like, that's it. And I'm like, Yeah, you're just a big toy, who's running away or hiding under a pile of clothes. And I've, you know, through context, the dog has heard me say the things and he hears the things and sees the things and smells, the pheromones coming off of our bodies. And, and, and he recognizes, oh, that he wants me to go by that I'm going to go by that. That that also kind of throws people for a loop because they just I think they believe and no fault of their own. They use these big, aggressive, gnarly dogs, not for police work, military dogs, different story. And I've got some buddies that that work around that arena and that's a different story. But your hunting terrorist, not your neighborhood burglar. So I think the rules of engagement are a little different there.

Michael Shikashio:

Well, tell me more about that in the differences in When you would kind of be training for looking for in that aspect,

Unknown:

you still want a social dog, you need one that that can be social. But also, it's going to need to be a dog that's gotten a little bit more of a healthy respect, and a little bit more of a bigger personal space bubble around it. Because the type of work they do is, you can't have a dog that thinks twice. It's literally just a dog that's going to go no matter what, then if you get in the way of that dog, you will get bit as the handler of that dog. But that's just the type of dog that it is. But when you're doing, again, I think that sort of military type work, the rules of engagement are different, and you don't have to abide by the same rules that we have in this country. I think that's the right decision. I would never want to see it be done differently here. I think the rules of engagement here make sense for what we have.

Michael Shikashio:

So I think we've outlined kind of a few different types of dogs that we might use for biting people. You know, so military, police canine protection. And so we've outlined some of those categories. So Alex, question for you is, in your work with behavior cases, what, like in your experience, like you get a client that calls you I just got a belt or mountain walk? Because I saw it on a Disney movie kind of situation. And the dogs doing certain things? How do you start to kind of approach explaining to the owners what they have, because you have this unique perspective, as well as understanding the differences and those type of behaviors, maybe some has come times to be more operant? Maybe it's the dog being doing innate things like protecting its owner, maybe it's protecting himself, maybe it's fearful. So there's all these variables that can impact the work we do in aggression cases. So what are your thoughts there?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, I think I get kind of excited. Whenever I see someone come through the house, like a male or especially a puppy, I'm like, Oh, my gosh, okay, this is gonna be super fun. For me, I don't know how fun it is currently for the owners. Because I do think that there can always be a little bit of that shell shock when you get that puppy home. And it's literally like having this little tiny Purana in your house. So I do think that normalizing a lot of behaviors is critical when you have a dog like this, that a person is brought home, especially if they haven't had one before, people are often very concerned that the puppy is biting a lot. So is this a precursor to aggressive behavior later on? Should they be concerned about it, and a lot of it is just normalizing. You know, this is some major intrinsic motivation going on, especially maybe if they've gotten the puppy from a working line breeder, got just clearly a puppy that is born and bred to enjoy the act of tugging on things and biting things and tracing things. So usually, a flirt pole is the first thing that I have people invest in when they get a puppy like this, because I think that we have to give these puppies outlets for this behavior versus trying to suppress it and trying to mold a Malinois into a golden retriever, because it's just not going to happen. So we also I tend to work extra hard with socializing, and making sure that the dog is very comfortable with people coming in and out of the house from an early age, and taking the dog lots of different places. And also, just really starting, I think it's just so important to start on a very good foundational foot, because I think there's a lot of pressure for people to get these dogs that they need to have this militaristic, perfect dog. And so I think that a lot of times people get stuck in more aversive methods, especially in adolescence, when they get frustrated, they can start to kind of go down that rabbit hole, because they do want that perfect dog like they see in the movies that perfectly trained. Malinois, is just a very tempting thing and, and a hard thing to get away from. So I just think starting really early with all of that, and just giving that puppy an outlet for those natural instincts is just so important.

Michael Shikashio:

So I've got a deeper dive question along those lines. And I'll give you an example. So I like to use examples. Like example, let's say we have a working line Doberman and under socialized and so in a behavior case, you've got this dog with all kinds of ancestry that's been used for you know, let's say police work protection work. And then this dog gets shipped over to a client and they get this dog this puppy but they forget to go outside and socialize the dog with anybody. So you get these fear based aspects going on or under socialization, lack of exposure to certain elements of the world, and then all sudden the dopamine cycle that's right, I'm a dopamine from working lions. And so you've got a unique issue there where we want to help the dog with a fear issue. But sometimes when we do that, they're gonna be like, Oh, that's right. I really am a working lion Doberman and I'm supposed to protect my owners. So it's a sick the fine balance of like, okay, we want to help this dog feel safer and its world but when we do, we have to put opera and controls on the working line stuff. What are your thoughts there? Have you seen that kind of case and what's your usual approach? Yeah,

Unknown:

I feel like I have an actual Dobermann in my head that I saw that was very similar to this. And I do think that we can only fight instinct so much. So I do think it comes back to just normalizing for people, you're not going to have your Doberman that comes from this working line, not have a natural instinct to protect your home to alert to people being there. And especially when you have a bite history that's in play, management absolutely has to be part of the equation because we absolutely cannot set that dog up to fail in this situation. So I do obviously, one of my favorite things to do is sort of an engage disengage type protocol. With people entering the home, I find these dogs struggle the most with people entering and people exiting, sometimes, you know, when people stand up and they start to go towards the door, you almost see that same behavior that you see when people enter. So we'll do a lot of that same engage, disengage, having the dog, look at the person and get marked and rewarded, looking back at the person that's handling them. So we're teaching the dog obviously, to perform an alternate behavior. So hey, look at that person, look back at me, I don't need the barking and the growling and the lunging and all that, which of course, can help to create a more positive association. But like you said, I think we're always going to have a little bit of that natural edge where you can you know, that there's still that 1% of that dog that is still very interested in it not protective instinct.

Michael Shikashio:

Awesome, awesome answer, because it's very similar to my approach. So it's great to share that with a colleague and hear the same kind of approach. So what are you guys working on any other projects or anything? Where can people find you? Is there anything you want to let the listeners know about?

Unknown:

So you can always find us on Instagram? For me at least we're at peach on the leash. Well, you can find Hummer hammerheads on Instagram. Yeah. So I created I didn't do this when I was at the agency was actually against county policy at the time to post any picture of any department equipment. So once he retired, I did open up an Instagram page for Hummer. It's at Kanaan underscore Hummer. And I post a lot of pictures and videos there from our days of working and try to share some stories along the way. You can see him escaping from his kennel. Yeah, most recently developed a habit of he's always had a really hard vertical like when he was young, like two years old is about seven and a half feet. Now it's about five and a half. But he He cleared his five foot kennel from a standstill. I mean, just from a standstill, and it's on video. It's really

Michael Shikashio:

that's what Malin was supposed to do, right? To climb anything,

Unknown:

keep you on your toes. That's what they do.

Michael Shikashio:

So it's great to hear he's got his own Instagram account, I find that dog Instagram accounts and trainers always get more followers than the actual trainers themselves. So

Unknown:

listen as a canine handler and a canine trainer. I had my dog for seven years. Anytime I walked into a building, the first question out of everybody's mouth is where's your doc? Every time? No, but it was never good to see ya how you do it. Oh, my gosh. Oh, glad you stopped by. Where's the dog?

Michael Shikashio:

Does out. The question is Is Alex asked you the same question. You come home.

Unknown:

That's true. It's about 5050.

Michael Shikashio:

All right, that's fair. Well, guys, thank you so much for coming on. I really learned a lot about police dog handling and some of the aspects there as well as the behavior consultants side of working these cases. So thank you for having us. Yeah, I look forward to seeing you guys in the future and hope to talk to you again soon. Thanks so much. What a pleasure chatting with this dynamic duo. I've learned a lot about the unique world of police dogs and hope you had some nice takeaways as well. I'd also love to hear what you would like for additional topics in future episodes of both the body and the dog and the help for dogs with a question subscription series. You can reach out by emailing podcast at aggressive dog.com That's podcast at aggressive dog.com. I'd love to hear from you. Thank you for tuning into the show. Today stay well my friends