Features February 2011 Issue

Training Police Dogs and Military Dogs Using Positive Methods

Steve White has worked extensively with military and police dogs, as well as “pet dogs” of every stripe. He’s a leading proponent of positive reinforcement training, both for law enforcement and civilian trainers.

Training Police Dogs and Military Dogs Using Positive Methods

These police officers are proof that reward-based training is good for more than just basic obedience and fun tricks.

Positive reinforcement training has made significant inroads among much of the dog-owning population. However, many handlers involved in precision-based sports such as field work, obedience, and Schutzhund, along with many pet owners of “strong” breeds such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, and so-called “bully” breeds, still believe a healthy dose of compulsion is necessary to convince the dog he must perform as “commanded” (as opposed to “cued” or “requested”). The trainers of working police dogs generally feel that their dogs – and their jobs – also require the use of force-based techniques; a majority of law enforcement dog handlers still rely on compulsion. Fortunately, a growing number are beginning to realize that positive reinforcement not only produces reliable dogs, it also decreases dog-handler conflict and creates stronger working relationships.

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