Our second week of training continued to build on the foundation of the first week of training. In addition to the obedience and searches (explosives and narcotics), we began tracking people. Carl and Allied (and their handlers) had a busy week.
To give you some examples of these different disciplines and the training progression, I'll start with obedience. The first week, we worked on basic heeling (the dog walking on your left side), having the dog sit and stay down, stay in their respective positions as you moved out in front of the dog. There was also obedience with another dog on the field at the same time with you. This week, the dogs worked on all of these previous skills and also "downing" while we continued to walk. The dogs were also exposed to more distractions (gunfire, for example) and were taken through a series of commands without the handler having the leash.
The searches are increasingly challenging and more complex. For Carl, his explosive searches involved more rooms and larger rooms. One of his searches involved a series of ten rooms, several of the rooms contained no explosive training aids. The searches are unknown to me. I have to focus on my search patterns, watching him work, listening to his breathing patterns, and recognizing when he begins to work the odor of an explosive. I'm also trying to move quickly through the search area focusing on areas that are likely to contain an explosive. There's a lot to process very quickly. I'm improving, but have a long way to go!
Officer Baumgart is having a similar experience with his narcotics searches with Allied. He's moved to several different locations, inside and outside. The two of them are searching buildings, rooms and vehicles. One of the locations we both went to this week was a large auto salvage yard, containing hundreds and hundreds of vehicles. We were required to search different sections of the yard and locate our respective explosive or narcotic finds.
We both also began tracking. We are doing relatively short tracks of people. The longest track is 50-75 yards with a couple of turns. Much of this week for us is getting comfortable with preparing the dog to be successful on the track. This preparation includes bringing them up to the track (giving them an idea of what they are doing, smoothly putting on their tracking harnesses--easier said than done) and running the track. You have to make sure the dog has engaged the track and then use great leash discipline on the track.
After training was complete Friday, we also had two tests. These week's tests covered narcotics and first aid for our dogs. The narcotics test covered everything from search patterns, to types of indications, to types of narcotics and more. The first aid test covered everything from the number of olfactory cells the dog's have to the symptoms and treatment of a dog if it ingests a narcotic or some other dangerous household items (anti-freeze, for example). We also had to know they symptoms and treatment of other illnesses (bloat and heat stroke) to name a few. Week 2 is in the books. The training for next week will continue to increase in intensity and complexity. We'll try and provide an update as we can. Thanks for reading. Sergeant Jeff Felt