...More Deadly Mistakes
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…MORE Deadly Mistakes K9 Handlers Make

by Senior Master Instructor Aycock
and Master Trainer Gary Arway

1 - Always staring at the dog.
Handlers should always move with their lines taught, sensing the speed and direction of the dog through the line. Your eyes are a primary survival tool, to lock them only upon the dog is limiting vision. Not seeing suspect can lead to a quick death.

2 - Spotlighting the dog and themselves.
Handlers consistently remind backup to not spotlight the dog. However, the biggest violators of the rule are the handlers themselves.  Teach yourself to use light sparingly and when using it, scan as opposed to directly positioning the light on the dog.  Remember: a suspect can target you  by your light.

3 - Never looking upwards beyond eye level.
Handlers should train themselves to check upwards when conducting any operation that involves a suspect. Suspects do climb roofs, trees, and walls.

4 - Losing Backup.
Any handler involved in a firefight will tell you that with backup you may get hit but without it you will likely get killed: suspect shoots handler - backup targets suspect.

5 - Making too much noise.
Suspects who are lying in wait, in efforts of ambush or escape, are listening for possible opportunities.  Don’t make it easy on them.  Remain silent.

6 - Getting tunnel vision.
Remember that your danger/fire zone is 360 degrees.  Don’t lock into what’s ahead but rather focus on all 360 degrees. 

7 - Failing to use peripheral vision.
While tracking, keep your head up - scan left and right - dropping head briefly to see the dog.  As you scan, use peripheral vision to assure that backup is in proper place(s) and to check surroundings for possible threats.

8 - Searching for the K9 during hostile situations.
Do not chase the dog.  Typically, during hostile situations, handlers have a tendency to worry over the dog and if gunfire erupts - will search for the K9 as opposed to seeking cover. Seek cover first, then call dog to you while engaging suspects location.

9 - Running blindly on urban tracks.
Urban tracks offer many more dangerous opportunities than rural. Take urban tracks slowly and on full alert. Do not pass buildings, sheds, Etc. without having backup clear them first.

10 - Assuming the K9 is under control.
This happens mostly when entering on building searches.  Often, the dog becomes so excited about the search that it will storm into the building and give an alert as though targeting a suspect.  Handlers often trust the dog to be directly on scent and follow the dog, by passing doors, blind areas, Etc.  This will get you killed.  Never pass anything in building without clearing it, even if the dog is engaging.

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