Douglas K-9s learn new tricks | RecordCourier.com

Douglas K-9s learn new tricks

by Taylor Pettaway
tpettaway@nevadaappeal.com

The Douglas County K9 Unit received some new perspectives after a week-long, multiagency training.

The five-man unit worked in conjunction with the Nevada Department of Corrections, Washoe County Sheriff's Office, Lyon County Sheriff's Office, Los Angeles Police Department and Carson City Sheriff's Office last week to learn new techniques for how to run their dogs on duty.

The agencies brought in Jack Robichaeux and Leroy Azlin, two professional dog trainers from the East Coast with nearly 40 years of experience. The training focused on narcotics and how to improve the dogs' abilities to find drugs in vehicles, buildings and objects.

Azlin said the school is meant to be an enhancement school, through the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center, so the trainers can look at both the genetics and skills of the dogs to increase their narcotic detection.

"This helps get more bad guys in jail, dope off the streets and make the world better," Azlin said. "We try to find something with each dog to work on."

Azlin said that by picking apart the weaknesses, it just makes the dog a better detector in the end.

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"It is easy to find narcotics in a wheel hub, but when it is in the gas tank surrounded by gas after going down the highway, that takes a tremendous dog," Azlin said.

The 20 officers have eight hours of classroom work in addition to running a variety of situations to exemplify different places where narcotics could be hidden as well as techniques for how to train and run the dogs for non-traditional places.

Even for experienced K9 officers, the training still provided helpful and new insight.

"I have been a K9 officer for nine years and in just a few hours on the first day I have been able to learn new techniques," said Douglas County Sgt. John George. "I am excited to take it back to our agency to apply it to my dog and others."

In addition to having the trainers, the agencies were able to learn from each other and see how their surrounding partners operate.

"Narcotics is a perishable skill so getting diverse training from people who come from the East Coast and learning from them gives us a new perspective," George said. "This is invaluable because you get the chance to network and it gets you out of your comfort zone."

Most of the deputies agreed they left the training with new insights on how to work their dogs in the field.

"My biggest (takeaway) was how to increase the dog's drive," said Lyon County Deputy Jonathon Tripp. "There are different ways to help the dog's drive with different tools and different ways to use them to enhance the dog's natural abilities and instincts to search."

Tripp was one of the co-organizers of the training, working with Carson City Deputy Jeff Pullen to bring the trainers to Northern Nevada.

"It is good to get a different input from handlers with different experience to get that firsthand look at other dogs to see how to improve your dogs, it is just another tool in the toolbox."