In light of the tragic school shootings that have taken place across the country, one organization is sniffing out a new level of security: the use of specially trained gun and drug detection dogs.
K9s4Kids is a new non-profit branch of a K9s4Cops, a company that provides trained K9s to law enforcement agencies. K9s4Kids is seeking to create a safer learning environment for children by providing approved schools with a fully trained dog, free of charge.
Traditional training for police and protection dogs has leaned heavily towards aversive and punishment-based methods, including harsh corrections with choke or prong collars, as well as widespread use of shock collars. Breeds commonly used for protection and detection work, such as the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois, are among the most highly intelligent and sensitive dog breeds in the world. Using aversive methods on these dogs can, and often does, prove disastrous. Proponents of aversive methods will often disregard positive training as nothing more than doling out treats and lavishing dogs with praise. However, what many people don't realize is that positive does not equal permissive, and while treats and praise are used as motivators, discipline is a necessary piece of the training puzzle. It just doesn't come in the form of fear, pain, or harsh corrections.
Fortunately, there are forward-thinking handlers and trainers that are discovering the power of positive training on working dogs. A common myth about positive training is that it's only effective on small dogs and puppies with minor behavioral issues, when in fact it's just as effective on large, high-drive dogs. If more of the highly respected men and women who train and handle high-drive working dogs begin to use positive methods, I believe it will set an incredible example for dog owners and trainers everywhere.
It's my hope that a program like K9s4Kids takes advantage of the opportunities that positive training provides in teaching dogs effectively, as well as demonstrating to children how to properly handle and work with a dog. Kids tend to mirror what they see, and if kids consistently saw the dog protecting their school being jerked and yanked around, they will likely mirror these methods in their experiences with their own dogs. K9s4Kids has a wonderful opportunity to set a positive example for today's youth.
The program is only in the beginning stages, so questions remain about the safety and effectiveness of the program, as well as how to deal with issues like children with allergies or who are fearful of dogs. Read more.