August 14, 2018
By: Abby Shepard, Marketing Director at Delaware State Parks
Today marked the first day of training in Indiana. Early Tuesday morning, the team arrived at Van Liche Kennels. These kennels specialize in police and military dogs.
The officers began their morning with a list of 22 “green dogs,” meaning that these dogs had not started training. We are specifically interested in green dogs, because we can then put the dogs through our own training, with their handlers, back at the Canine Academy in Delaware. However, it is still important that we select the dogs from this kennel, because the dogs are bred specifically to be trained for police work.
Because the dogs are untrained, the tests are designed to evaluate the dogs’ instincts and personalities.
This morning, we started our day by playing a fetch type of activity with the dogs. This activity focused on assessing their their ability to focus, search, and stay on task. Each dog was brought out into an open field one at a time. One of the State Police trainers would hold the dog’s leash, while the other threw a tennis ball into the field. Once the tennis ball landed, the dog would be released to find the ball. We would then watch and see how well the dog stayed focused on finding the ball. We looked for dogs who would use their sense of smell to keep searching for the ball without getting distracted.
We tested 22 dogs with the fetch activity, and narrowed the list down to 12 dogs.
For the next test, we took the dogs to a local tractor supply store to test how they would respond to different environmental factors that they may not have seen before. We took each dog on a walk through the store. During the walk through, the trainers would make noises on some of the store items, and ask the dogs to do different tasks like jump on a cart or walk through the holes of a ladder on the ground. We looked for dogs who were confident when presented with this new environment, and who wanted to investigate new smells, textures, sounds, and obstacles. After this test, we narrowed down our list to 10 dogs.
After a long day of training, we hit a local restaurant for dinner and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the second training day!