Why are maintenance courses for detection dogs and handlers so important?

This is a frequently asked question. Followed by: the detection dog and its handler have had the training and pasted the exams, is that not enough? Or, our dog handlers train with the dog themselves.

An example to clarify: driving, after getting your driving license.

You learn how to drive a car. The instructor next to you, tells you ┬áto hold the wheel in both hands (’10 to 2′). You do the driving test with the examiner next to you and you pass the test. With the driving license in your pocket, you start driving. Now the question: how long did it take before you start holding the wheel in one hand (’12 o’clock’)? Probably you do not even notice you are doing it.

Now the link with detection dogs. First, an exam is a snap shot of the situation at a certain moment. You are not an experienced driver after passing the test, this also applies for working as a detection dog handler. Second, the risks are limited when driving with one hand on the wheel. However, ‘driving with one hand on the wheel’ when you are working with an explosive detection dog can be the difference in finding a bomb or missing it.

By having maintenance courses on a regular base with a qualified instructor, the detection dog and its handler keep focussed and the ‘bad habits’ will be corrected. In this field it can be the difference between life and death. People – the society – may expect that detection dogs and handlers provide the same quality at all times. Many times this is not the case.

Maintenance courses are an important element of the long term quality control of the detection dog and its handler.

It is not about us, it is about THEM. THEM is the society.

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