Some interesting things can sometimes come out of Facebook. Lately there has been a discussion on what type of person a team would want as a K-9 handler. I thought this could be a good blog topic, handler selection.
In the past I’ve blogged about dog selection. That is what we as a team look for in a good working dog. But, I must admit I’ve left out a big part of the equation. The type of person on the other end of leash is important, also. After some of the comments in the discussion group I would offer that the handler could make or break the team.
First off, you want a person who is a good leader and a go-getter. Most of the time on searches, the command staff are not used to working with K-9’s. A good handler needs to be able to offer assistance when it comes to team placement and how a K-9 team would work. Often K-9 handlers will train on their own. They need to be able to work on their own, come up with new ideas for training and be self motivating.
Being somewhat fit is also important. Physical fitness of course is good for one’s health. As I know from personal experience physical fitness can also improve the team’s performance. Shall we say that I was in much better shape in previous years than now? A comment that the Chief Editor hears after I come back from training is that I think Küster’s trying to kill me. I’m getting my butt back into gear.
A K-9 team just needs to be a good fit for each other. A super fast 100-mph K-9 just doesn’t work with a slow handler. It will end up causing a frustrated dog and starts getting distracted and gets tried of waiting. Sure, there are things that can be done to assist in this situation but why start with a problem?
I understand that handler selection can be a very difficult topic. Especially when it comes to volunteer teams, like ours is. Many people want to join. Most want to work their dog. In most cases the dog washes out and we do not see the person again. Sometimes the person will start looking for another dog to be their working partner. Luckily we have a process for them to go through and it seems to weed out people that would be mediocre. We also have an annual physical test for minimal fitness.
Remember a mediocre K-9 handler will bring the best dog down to that level in time.