Manwork should be enjoyable to both dog and trainer but, before starting, make sure you have the right dog. A nervous dog which, without training, would run a mile if threatened with a stick can often be trained to attack quite easily. But he won’t lose his nervousness. Like the dog which fights through fear he will attack, not because someone attacks him, but because he is afraid someone may do so. And a nervous animal, like a nervous person, loses his head in an emergency and becomes quite uncontrollable. No matter how well it is trained, such an animal is potentially lethal.
Probably the best manwork dog I ever had was an Alsatian called Gerty who was gun-shy. It was the only thing she ever showed the slightest fear of. But I believe this fear was acquired through being potted at by a trigger-happy farmer before she came to me.
There was no question of her being a bit windy of bangs; she would bolt for home if a gun went off a mile away.
She took to manwork like a duck to water and immediately became very keen, so I thought I would see what she would do with a gun. At the time I had a very good young ‘criminal’, whom I armed with a cap pistol and told to fire it only once, when Gerty was about half way to him — and to keep on running. He ran from her and, when he was about sixty yards away, I sent her in. I had been hotting her up before I let her go and she went like a bomb. The boy fired the one round. Gerty stopped dead in her tracks and I expected her to bolt but she looked back, saw the boy still running, and went straight for _him with even more enthusiasm than usual. Next time she simply faltered and then attacked quite viciously.
Almost immediately she seemed to realize (this is a case where I disagree with scientists who say that dogs never reason) that this noise which had terrified her for so long could be silenced by attacking it. She had an absolutely super temperament but, from then on, would become really vicious if a gun was fired.
The reason I tell this story is because having taught the dog to do this there was no way of undoing it. Children could pull her about and she could be worked without any padding at all, but, to anyone who fired a gun or simply had a gun in his hand she was a dangerous animal for the rest of her life.
Due to association of ideas Gerty was only afraid of gunfire and so long as no one fired a gun she was absolutely safe. But many nervous dogs are simply afraid of people and the sight of a stranger will have a similar effect on them as the sound of a gun did on Gerty. So, if you have a dog whose temperament is not quite ioo per cent don’t think of teaching it manwork.
If you have a dog with a strong guarding instinct think very carefully before teaching him manwork. He may well excel at it and, under certain circumstances, could be invaluable. To a night watchman, for instance, who likes training and keeps his dog ahvays under control. But in a household where people come and go and where there is not always a master in complete control of the dog it could be a very dangerous animal. A dog with a natural guarding instinct is like a loaded gun with the safety catch secured. It is unlikely to go off without any very real cause. To teach such a dog to attack is like releasing the safety catch. An accidental touch of the trigger can have tragic results.
The safest dog to teach manwork is the rollicking, happy-go-lucky fool, perhaps bought to protect yourself and your property, but, at fifteen to eighteen months of age showing little inclination to do so. Some manwork often develops the guarding instinct in this type of dog making him feel some sense of responsibility. Likewise the so called lazy dog (which in fact has too much sense to spend its life doing precision obedience stunts) will often take to manwork with enthusiasm.
Unfortunately many people are under the impression that such dogs will not be very good at manwork and don’t try to train them. Even more unfortunate is the fact that many people teach manwork to over-keen dogs always on their toes. They end up with a dog that is dangerous around the home and unlikely ever to win PD trials because it is so difficult to control.
Let us now assume that you have considered the matter very carefully and have decided to teach your dog manwork. There are two ways to encourage a dog to grab hold of a man. One in play through the hunting instinct. The other by training to develop the dog’s aggressive guarding instinct. I never use the latter method and, so far as I know, all the police forces now teach their dogs by playing with them. It should be remembered that if a big strong dog like an Alsatian sinks his teeth into a criminal’s arm he (the criminal) is not going to bother too much about whether the dog is doing it for fun or in earnest!
Puppies can learn to grab hold in play at quite an early age and indeed may have to be discouraged from doing so. It is not a good idea, however, to start until the dog is at least a year old and has reached quite a high standard of obedience. Not only will you then have him under control, but you will have a much better idea than when you started as to what sort of temperament he really has. Indeed you may have decided not to teach him man-work after all!
Start by finding yourself a piece of sacking or similar material about three feet square, but depending on the size of the dog. Start when the dog is fresh and ready for a game. Roll the sacking up and shake it at the dog, doing all you can to get him to grab hold and worry it. Some dogs will do this right away whilst others need a lot of encouragement.
When he does get hold of the sacking, keep it ‘alive’ without tugging it out of his mouth. Remember that, to the dog’s hunting instinct, this piece of sacking is something alive which he wants to ‘kill’. The more it struggles to get away the more determined will he be to ‘kill’ it, but when it ‘dies’, he will lose interest. The trouble with some people is that they never succeed in making it ‘live’. In the initial stages the killing instinct may be very weak and require encouragement. If you are too rough at this stage or continually snatch the sacking away from him he may get the impression that he cannot kill it anyhow, so why bother to try? In all manwork training the dog must always finish up ‘top dog’.
You can use a command like ‘get him’ (we simply use a hiss to make a dog attack) right from the start, but the most important thing is to put plenty of enthusiasm into your tone of voice and whole attitude to the game.
The first object is to get the dog to take a good hold and hang on, and nothing else should be attempted until he does. That may be the very first time you shake a sack at him or it may take several weeks of encouragement which is a very exhausting pastime! But don’t keep him hanging on until he is exhausted. Praise him lavishly then tell him gently to ‘leave’, at the same time letting the sacking ‘die’ in your hand. If he won’t leave adopt the method on how to make a dog release a dumbbell. Some dogs become overkeen and want to keep shaking the sacking even when it is lying on the ground. In all initial training a dog’s natural desire to do something can be invaluable and should be encouraged to the full. But, as soon as he enjoys doing it, he must learn that it is only when you say so and not always when he wants to.
As I said the first object is to get the dog to take a good hold but the second and equally important one is to teach him to let go. Whenever the dog shows some enthusiasm in worrying the sack I find it a good idea to roll it up tight and hold one end in each hand. This discourages the dog from nibbling and shredding the material which is a very bad habit when you come to work on a padded arm. Make the roll big enough that the dog has a good mouthful and encourage him from the start to take it right back in his mouth.
The dog which is keen to grab hold, is usually more difficult to teach to leave and vice versa. I much prefer the former but he must be taught to leave a sack on command before he goes any further. The gentle treatment already mentioned may prove quite ineffective and it may be necessary to use quite severe correction. This is one advantage in having the dog trained to a fairly high standard before starting.
You can put your drop on command to some practical use too by giving the command ‘Down’ as soon as the dog has let go. You can also put the dog down, walk some distance away, turn to face him and hold the rolled up sacking out at arms length. Keep it quite still and keep the dog lying facing you. Now simultaneously shake the sack and give the command ‘get him’. When he does, let him have a good old worry and then tell him to leave and lie down.
Work on these lines until the dog will rush to grab the sacking, really worry it and then let go instantly on command. Depending on the dog you can rough him up by flapping a light piece of sacking at him once he has taken hold. Do anything which will egg him on but don’t forget to relax completely whenever you tell him to leave.
By now you will know two things. Whether or not your dog will bite (quite a few never will) and whether he is under complete control. If the answer to both is in the affirmative you can proceed to the next stage. For this you can use a padded arm. But the type of arm you can buy is usually far too hard to encourage a young dog to take hold. I always start with the same piece of sacking that I have been using and simply wrap it round my lower arm.
If I think the dog bites hard I put on a leather gauntlet and take the’ corner of the sacking in the base of my thumb and wrap it backwards round and round my hand. When I come to the end I gather a piece in my fist and hold it tight, the whole effect being rather like a boxing glove. Now go through the whole proceeding as before using the padded fist instead of the rolled up sacking. If your dog really bites hard you will soon find out! — and it is then advisable to get a proper padded arm.
Once the dog will attack the padded arm on command and likewise leave on command, we come to the stage where an assistant is helpful even if not absolutely essential. My experience is that good ‘criminals’ are just as difficult to find as good dogs. And many of the latter are ruined by bad criminals. For this reason it is sometimes better to struggle away on one’s own than have the help of a ‘clever dick’ who does not know what he is doing. Individual circumstances vary to such an extent that I feel all I can do here is to tell you how my wife and I teach our own dogs manwork.
We never know the day we may be asked for a dog to attack, so my wife teaches nearly all our young dogs to worry a piece of sacking and leave on command exactly as I have just described. Unless there is a reason for doing so we never go beyond this stage. If we do decide to proceed further I start with the rolled up sacking exactly as my wife has been doing. Indeed a big dog, by this stage, is likely to be far too strong for most women and she would be unable to proceed further anyway.
Having ‘told’ the dog he can play the same game with me as he has been doing with her she then takes him over and gives him the commands. I stand some distance away while she sends him in and also orders him to leave. I then wrap the sacking round my hand as already described and we start to teach the dog to catch me running away with my wife still giving the commands. Here I might mention that I have been describing how to start a keen dog, one that likes to hang on but is not very willing to let go. With a dog which is not very enthusiastic you may have to run about like an idiot when you first start with the sacking. And you can start running away with the arm much sooner. It is all a question of balance. If the dog is keen you must concentrate on teaching him to leave — mainly for safety’s sake. If he is not very keen you must concentrate on teaching him to bite. Too much emphasis on leaving may put such a dog off biting.
Having done my fair share of being criminal for a wide variety of dogs at all stages of training I feel that I may be able to offer a few words of advice to those who willingly or unwillingly get involved in this pastime. I frequently ‘double’ for film stars who have neither the know-how nor the desire to be attacked by a dog. One very famous actor thought he would like to try it with a very safe Boxer with which he was working. But Gretel would not go for him at all and so I had to double for him.
After the scene he said, ‘Why is it that this dog will attack you, her master, who she obviously likes but she will not attack me, a stranger?’
‘Well,’ I replied, ‘if you must know, it’s because she does not think you are worth attacking.’ So if you want to be attacked by a dog see that you make yourself worth attacking. But with an inexperienced dog make sure that he always wins.
Often when watching a police dog demonstration a spectator can be heard to remark such as ‘He gave the dog his arm’. Such a remark usually comes from someone who has never worked a dog. The point is that the majority of dogs when catching something that is running away grab the nearest part they can get hold of. So if the criminal keeps his arm tucked in front of him when the dog is coming up behind and cannot even see it he is simply asking to be bitten on the behind.
So let the dog have your arm and, once he has a good hold pretend you are trying to get away. The handler should tell the criminal to ‘stand still’ and then tell the dog to ‘leave’. This is allowed in Trials and is, in fact, an extra command as the dog soon associates the ‘stand still’ with leaving. It is of the utmost importance that the criminal obeys the command instantly and does stand still. As I have said, a dog will rarely worry a dead object and if the criminal becomes quite ‘dead’ the majority of dogs will leave without any command at all. Likewise a good dog will attack as soon as the criminal tenses himself. There is no need to move or give any command and this is the best demonstration I know of just how perceptive a dog can be.
ADVANCED TRAINING FOR TRIALS
We now have a dog which will grab hold on command and catch a criminal running away; but if you aspire to a PD qualification you will have to sharpen him up quite a bit. That is if you still have him nicely under control and you have decided that his temperament is okay for this type of work. So let us discuss the Patrol exercises which we have not yet mentioned.
I shall start at the end with food refusal which some dogs do instinctively while others have the greatest difficulty in resisting temptation. The easiest way to teach this exercise is to train the dog right from the start never to take food from you or anyone else until given the command to do so. And, of course, the obvious time to teach it is a feeding time. Sit the dog and put his food down in front of him, at the same time telling him to ‘leave it’. If he is steady on the sit he won’t move but, if he does, correct him as mildly as possible. As soon as he obviously understands to leave the food, praise him, and tell him to ‘eat it up’ or some such command. Lengthen the time you keep him sitting until he is quite steady. Now put the food down without telling him to sit but give him the command to leave. If he disobeys correct him again until he will stand around waiting until told to eat it.
From there you can offer him food from the hand or dropped on the ground. And you can get strangers to offer him food, first from the hand and later thrown on the ground in front of the dog. The whole object is to gradually instil into the dog that, under no circumstances, must he take food unless you tell him to do so. If he does he will be corrected more and more severely each time. Unfortunately some dogs do need very severe correction. Like humans some dogs yield to temptation much more easily than others. A greedy dog may never be really reliable while a shy feeder requires little if any correction.
I have seen trainers teach food refusal by getting as many different people as possible to offer the dog food and, as he went to take it, clip him one over the nose. And I have known dogs learn to refuse food in this way but I have also known them turn aggressive towards or shy of strangers, which is not really surprising.
An advantage of the method just described is that if, for any reason, you have to leave your dog with a stranger, e.g. in boarding kennels, he will probably eat if given the command to do so. Indeed he will probably eat anyhow as very few dogs ever become 100 per cent on food refusal in spite of many sure teaching methods.
A Corgi I used on demonstrations was an inveterate scrounger. If I took my eye off her for an instant in an arena she would sneak off looking for the bits and pieces invariably left by people en masse. Having been told it was a sure cure I baited a ‘break back’ mouse trap with a piece of meat, which I tied firmly in place. I left this lying around and let Pip out. I did not want her to get the impression that I had anything to do with it so I did not keep an eye on her. Within ten minutes of letting her out she came pottering into her kennel, quite unconcerned, carrying the sprung trap with the meat still attached and proceeded to undo it!
Now to find the hidden person and bay but not bite. Before starting I am assuming that the dog has already been taught to speak on command and has done some manwork. Start by getting someone the dog knows to go off and hide. Let the dog see him leaving but not where he is hiding. Now, with the dog on a lead, go and look for him. As soon as the dog spots your assistant both of you can encourage him to speak. Use the lead to prevent his going right up to the assistant.
Most dogs will show more enthusiasm if the criminal wears a padded arm.
On no account should the dog be allowed to bite as long as the criminal stands still. It is important to have a criminal who knows what standing still means. If he runs the dog can be allowed to go in and have a bite. Properly timed this can act as a reward for barking. We have all seen a completely untrained dog barking at a sitting cat hoping that it will run so that he can chase it. The criminal should try to copy the actions of the cat.
The criminal can now go to hide without the dog seeing him go. He should take care to hide down wind of the dog and not foul the ground over which it will be quartering. When the dog is sent to find the criminal the command should be different from that used when quartering for hidden objects. If you use an exciting ‘Where is he?’ as opposed to a steady ‘Seek’ he will learn to keep his head up when searching for a criminal and down when searching for small objects. You can, of course, use the same directional signals for both exercises.
In the initial stages there is a great advantage in having a criminal the dog knows. Indeed it may well be advantageous to act the criminal yourself and get an assistant to act as handler. If the dog. Does not speak when he finds you, you can encourage him to do so. If he goes in to bite while you are standing still you can correct him. The criminal should keep his instructions to a minimum, bearing in mind that the object is a dog that will work without any. When the dog works properly with someone he knows you can try him with a stranger but make sure that you find someone who will obey your instructions implicitly. And start back at the beginning with the dog on a lead which gives you much more control. This may well prove necessary as the dog will have no respect for a criminal who is a stranger.
If the dog is reliable in refusing food under normal conditions you should have no trouble here. Because he has something else on his mind (the possibility of a bite) he should be much more likely to refuse food. But, of course, this depends on the individual dog’s priorities. For instance a keen sheepdog which has not been taught food refusal would rarely stop to pick up food while he is working. But there are others who would grab the food then carry on with the job!
Test of courage against attack on and/or off the lead This is a test of courage rather than control. Handlers must be prepared to have the dog tested when on the leash by an unprotected Judge or Steward, and/or when off the lead by a protected Steward. The method of testing will be at the discretion of the Judge, who will see the dogs tested without and with stick. Dogs will not be heavily penalked in this exercise for lack of control.
At last we come to an exercise which tests the inherent qualities of the dog rather than the training ability of the handler. If, by this stage you find that your dog won’t stand up to attack you must be a very poor judge of your own dog’s character. By careful observation rather than by actual test you should have made sure of this before teaching him manwork.
This does not mean that you should go off to a trail and expect the dog to stand up to this test the very first time. You really want an experienced ‘criminal’ to ‘attack’ the dog and at the same time gradually encourage him to come forwards. A quite aggressive dog can often be completely ‘squashed’ by a sudden and unexpected attack from a stranger. And if he does tend to be aggressive you may, on accasion, have corrected him quite severely for it thus tending to inhibit him now. You will have to let him understand that, when you say it is okay to have a go, it is okay. If a dog is made of the right stuff you should have no problem here. If he is not you are wasting your time.
Search and escort of criminal
Defending handler when attacked and immediate release when attack ceases or when commanded to ‘leave’ by handler.
The criminal will be searched by the handler with the dog off the lead at the Sit, Stand, or Down. The Judge will assess whether the dog is well placed tactically and ready to defend if called upon to do so.
The handler will then be told to escort the prisoner at least thirty yards in a certain direction, he will give at least one turn on the direction of the Judge and halt. The handler may be questioned as to his tactics in positioning the dog in both search and escort. The handler will then be told to continue to escort during which the criminal will attempt to overcome the handler. The dog may defend spontaneously or only on command and must release the criminal at once when he stands still or when the handler calls him off.
As you will see the above instructions are somewhat ambiguous and much is left to the personal opinion of the judge. What is not so obvious is that the dog’s performance can easily be made or marred by the criminal. As I said in my advice on teaching man-work very few dogs will bite a criminal who really stands still and relaxes. But I also said that a person can appear to be standing still to a human onlooker while still being tense to the dog. This fact can make it easy or difficult to get the dog to ‘release the criminal at once’.
We are not told what is the best criminal-dog-handler position in either the search or escort although the handler may be ‘questioned as to his tactics in both search and escort’. Perhaps the best way would be to have an informal chat with the judge beforehand and quietly bring up the question of what he considers the best position. But that is not really practical! The Home Office Manual on Police Dogs says that the ‘ideal position for the handler — is about six feet behind, with the dog at heel — or between the escort and the prisoner’. This is the general practice at trials. Personally I like the dog slightly ahead of me so that I can keep an eye on him and the criminal. When searching a criminal it is usual to do so from the back with the dog about four feet away facing him.
You should note that the judge will ‘assess whether the dog is ready to defend if called upon to do so’. Indeed an experienced trainer can assess a great deal about the whole character of the dog during these exercises. The first thing he wants to see is a dog completely under control which does not hot up when it has had a bite and which leaves immediately when told. The second thing he is looking for is a dog really on his toes and concentrating on the job.
The happy medium between these two is difficult to find and depends just as much on the dog as the trainer. My advice on how to achieve it is therefore given on the assumption that you have the right sort of dog. And apart from a good dog you will want a good criminal also completely under control yet always on his toes and concentrating on the job.
Generally speaking the best position for a dog to be during a search is Down. Most dogs are less likely to break from the Down than from the Stand or Sit. And most dogs can spring into action more easily from the same position. Indeed a hunting dog, fox or cat will often go Down before leaping on its prey.
You should rely on your criminal to keep the dog alert. Don’t give him instructions while working as the dog will soon learn to act on them. When you are searching the criminal he must keep his eye on the dog and, if its eye or mind wanders for a second, he should either attack you or run away — or push you over and run away.
With a slack dog he may even attack it by poking it either with a light stick or the padded arm. Earlier I mentioned an Alsatian, Gerty, who was completely obsessed with chasing rabbits when I first had her. Apart from that any excuse for a rough and tumble was just up her street and she took to manwork like a duck to water. But as soon as she caught her man and was told to leave she would look around for rabbits to chase, often turning her back on the criminal. At the time I had a fifteen-year-old boy working for me who was a super criminal and every time Gerty turned her tail to him he grabbed hold of it. That made her mad and she very soon learnt to keep her head towards the ‘enemy’. However, she still tended to look around but Pat had unusually quick reflexes and ability to concentrate. If she so much as thought of looking away he would poke her in the ribs and in the end she would ‘eye’ a criminal like a Border Collie does sheep.
That is what you should aim for. Nothing looks better than a dog which really ‘eyes’ his criminal all the time and this has practical advantages both to the policeman and the civilian who wants a dog for protection. The vast majority of people can be completely un-nerved, indeed terrified, by a dog (particularly an Alsatian) staring at them. As the purpose of a police dog or civilian guard dog is to prevent people doing wrong rather than chew them up after they have done wrong this is something worth aiming for.
In teaching a dog to escort I have found it best to start with the dog on a lead slipped through the collar. If he wants to have a go while the criminal is walking quietly he can be checked and at the same time he can immediately be released if the criminal attacks you or makes a dash for freedom. Once the dog will stay in the correct position the lead can be removed. In teaching this (as in nearly all training) never work to a routine. The criminal should keep an eye on the dog as best he can and if it should relax and take its eyes off him for a second he should either bolt for it or attack the handler. The whole object is to surprise the dog. Nothing keeps dogs and people on their toes like constant surprises!
Recall from criminal running away
The criminal protected to the minimum extent consistent with safety, will be introduced within ten yards of the handler whose dog will be sitting free at heel. After an unheated conversation he will run away. When approximately fifty yards distant the handler will be ordered to send his dog. When the dog is halfway between handler and criminal he will be ordered to be recalled. The recall may be by whistle or voice. The handler must follow his dog when it pursues, but in that case the point of recall must still be halfway between handler and criminal, and the handler must follow the same procedure in both exercises il(a) and (b) in the Schedule. The criminal should continue running until the dog returns or closes. If the dog continues to run alongside the criminal the criminal should run another ten or ken paces to indicate this.
In spite of the long and detailed explanation this exercise boils down to straightforward obedience. If your dog sees another dog and rushes towards it you call him back. If he comes back he is obedient, if he runs on he is not. My first advice, therefore, is to teach the dog to recall under all circumstances before you start teaching manwork. If you cannot call him off a cat or a rabbit during his obedience training you are unlikely to call him off a criminal once you have taught him manwork. The mistake many people make is that, instead of making use of cats, rabbits etc to teach a recall they actually encourage the dog to chase them.
Gerty,whom I have already mentioned, had, as I said, a mania for rabbiting but I broke her of it. It took about eighteen months and breaking was a more appropriate word than training but in the end she would recall from a rabbit which was being chased by several other dogs. She was as keen a manwork dog as I have ever had but I never had to teach her to recall from a criminal I simply whistled and she would stop dead in her tracks and come back. During a demonstration she ran the whole length of the White City Stadium after a criminal on a bike, and when only a few feet from him stopped dead in response to my whistle and tore back to attack another criminal who had appeared behind me. And she did it in complete darkness with only spotlights on dog and criminals.
If you do have trouble with this exercise the best method of correcting it is probably with the use of a check cord. This should be about twenty-five yards long which will allow the dog to run halfway to the criminal when he is fifty yards away. Let the criminal run, send the dog and, when he is a yard or two from the end of the line, call him. Provided you are stronger than he is, the cord will do the correcting and he will probably do a spectacular somersault. Now call him back using the line as a means of correcting him should he turn back to the criminal. Never use a line as a means of dragging a dog to you, only as a means of correction should he attempt to run away. And don’t forget to praise very well when the dog does return to you. To a greedy dog a piece of meat in your hand may be just as exciting as a criminal running away. Indeed it may prove more exciting — in which case don’t use it! It is really a question of assessing the dog’s priorities.
The recall may be by ‘whistle or voice’ and I strongly advise the use of a whistle. To a dog even more than a human the sound of a whistle carries much further than the human voice. And I believe that a dog in hot pursuit of anything has difficulty in hearing. Of course the saying that there are none so deaf as those who don’t want to hear applies to dogs just as much as humans. But if someone calls you when you are in hot pursuit of something (probably your dog) you will not hear them nearly so well as when you are walking quietly or standing still. The same must apply to dogs. Most shepherds work their dogs by word of mouth with one exception — they nearly always whistle to stop. Indeed if one reads down a column of sheepdog advertisements one will find the phrase ‘stops to whistle’ recurring more often than any other.
A whistle with a high pitched tone should be used and some people use silent whistles with the tone so high that we scarcely hear it. I have experimented with this type of whistle and have no doubt that it hurts some dogs’ ears. This will obviously tend to make a dog stop but it can distress those with hypersensitive hearing. In any case I like to hear what sort of a noise I am making and, being unable to whistle through my fingers, I use a shepherd’s whistle with a high tone.
Pursuit and detention of criminal until arrival of handler The criminal (a different one for choice) and handler should be introduced as above, and the dog sent forward under the same conditions. The criminal must continue to attempt to escape and, if possible should do so through the same exit or in some vehicle once the dog has had a chance of catching up with him. The dog must be regarded as having succeeded if it clearly prevents the criminal from continuing his line of flight, either by holding him, knocking him over or close circling him till he becomes giddy.
Obviously the most convincing way for a dog to detain a criminal is to grab hold and hang on. That is the most usual practice and it is therefore the method of manwork training I have described. But it is not the most practical for police purposes. The dog which , close circles a criminal making plenty of noise has many advantages over the one that hangs on in silence. Firstly he won’t harm the suspect who may in the end prove to be quite innocent. Secondly he is less likely to be killed or injured by a criminal who could be wearing a padded arm. And thirdly the handler will be able to hear the dog should it follow the criminal into a wood, round a street corner or into the darkness of the night. Amongst police and service trainers one hears more and more that this is the way dogs should be trained. But very few are trained to stand off and bark, presumably because it is very difficult to teach.
In theory, it should be possible for a dog to bark round a criminal without biting until told to go in by the handler. I have seen some dogs which would do it beautifully. But dogs which can be taught this, not to mention trainers who can teach them, are few and far between. My opinion therefore is that it will be some time before it becomes general practice at trials.
Stand off and bark at a criminal
To teach a dog to stand off and bark without biting, start by finding a hidden criminal and barking on command as you did when teaching the dog to quarter. When he is good at this exercise enlist the help of a capable and fairly strong assistant (additional to the criminal) who will have the dog on a long lead. Your job is now to encourage the dog to bark at the criminal and at the same time discourage it from going in and having a bite. Your assistant will, by means of the lead prevent the dog from getting too close and if it really tries to bite he can correct it with the lead. He should not, however, utter any words of command or correction. You are the handler and he is merely the anchor man.
The criminal should keep turning to face the dog which should be encouraged to run round and round. If he flicks at the dog with a light switch it will be prevented from biting in retaliation and should soon learn to keep just out of reach of the stick.
Before starting this exercise make sure that both your assistant and criminal know what is expected of them. You want to be able to concentrate on the dog and if it really does make a noise they won’t hear you anyhow!