The building search is one of the most important functions performed by the patrol dog. The dog is performing the search under conditions that are very dangerous for the handler and is extremely dangerous for non canine personnel.
U.S. Police K-9 Bldg Search Training (redacted)
orig:http://www.uspcak9.com/training/johnskalskibuildingsearch.shtml(no longer active)
Before the building search training is started the dog must be proficient in the following:
1. Biting solid on a sleeve
2. Doing off lead apprehensions
3. Proficient in the out
We must also be aware that the dog will use whatever sense is most convenient for him when performing any function, including the building search. It is our responsibility to ensure that the dog becomes extremely proficient in the use of his nose to detect people in a building. The nose is used almost exclusively to at least locate the subject in a certain area of the building, and the other senses then may come into play by narrowing the area and helping to find the subject.
Training The Building Search
As mentioned in the introduction there are some requirements that should be met before starting the building search training. With the bite being used as the primary reward in training, …For the dog to have made it through the requirements of the bite work we now know that the drive to hunt and chase is strong or at least adequate. In a majority of cases the dog has already done nose work to some degree thereby tuning and creating intensity in his olfactory work.
He is checking closed doors that are slightly ajar, with his nose, in an attempt to locate the decoy. It is somewhere near this point that every now and then we have a dog that may bark at a door, either before he checks it or after, and it’s the wrong door. We DO NOT CORRECT THE DOG WITH NEGATIVE. We have seen in the past that the dog does not realize what the correction is for. Is it for going out to search? Is it for barking? Is it for being by a door?
As we make progress in the intensity, length of search, use of the nose and some semblance of a pattern, we will want to have the dog search certain areas that he may have missed. Most dogs when released will charge out and search, missing some areas. We consider this common behavior and like to see this type of enthusiasm and intensity.
Upon your entry into any building you should be aware of heat and air conditioning use and the effect it could be having on the distribution of scent in an area. The reaction of the dog may be confusing in his indication of his attempt to locate the subject;e.g.: circling in the middle of the floor with his head up in the air. Realizing that he is having difficulty we should be able to figure out the possible reason and a probable location of the suspect (s). You should also be aware through training of the possible effects in a open type building, for example a warehouse with broken windows, on a cool or cold night when it’s windy. A dog must be worked on these type of searches to hone his skills, just as he improves with the increasing difficulty of tracks and other exercises.
We should also work our dogs in places that have many different and strong smells, tire stores, supermarkets, paint shops, etc. Practice in them and learn.
A good exercise in familiarity for the dog is to actually do the bite work in the building you are going to start your building searches in before you begin. This helps the dogs confidence and introduces him to the different surface under comfortable and familiar circumstances.
There is no harm in using the same building for the majority of the training. This allows the dog to concentrate on learning because he is comfortable.
Do low searches behind doors before high searches. It promotes and teaches the dog to use his nose. The other way does not create the intensity. But you must teach the high search later.
Keep in mind that all is not what it appears to be. Some doors inhale yet the door only 10 feet away may be exhaling. There is no set rules for this phenomenon.
Don’t forget to pay special attention to cold air returns. If someone crawls into one you may not get an alert or it may be at the furnace.
Remember if we run into a problem with the dog we should go back to basics. Putting the dog on a leash or backing up the process to correct a problem is nothing but good dog training. It does not show any weakness in the dog or the training but good common sense.
By keeping the situations as realistic as possible we sometimes forget the time before and leading up to the search. ..
An important factor in creating the previously mentioned condition is a proper mind set. What we should try to do is to actually believe and act as if each search in practice is real. This ability to act and make the dog think the situations are real separates the good handlers from the ordinary.
Remember, they call it the canine team! The dog can do things that you can’t and you can do things that he can’t, like think. Direct him to areas he hasn’t searched and remember he only does what the brains of the operation tells him to do.