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Training The Proper Out

By Instructor Ronnie Ashie

“ The canine must release the secure bite of the evaluator within five seconds of the first out command and the canine must be under control, with no risk of a cheap / non-warranted / re-bite.”

The above statement was read before the Ithaca, NY superior court last June. It was read by the prosecutor to the jury to sum up the case against a defendant who had been bitten by a local police K9 and whereby the defendant was injured and challenged the training of the dog and the aggression of the animal. The defense attorney had called the police dog - vicious.

The prosecutor had the certification records of the handler and his K9. In addition, the prosecutor had the exact ASCT standards that were met for certification. The statement read was the exact standards that the K9 team had to meet for an out certification. The canine did pass that certification with a noted time of 2.76 seconds from first command to out and control.

Had the handler not been able to show the standards and the compliance to the standards, this case would have turned ugly. The prosecution would have had a terrible time showing the canine as non - vicious, particularly since the dog had indeed made significant wounds on the defendant.

There are far too many K9 teams with out problems. And the refusal to release a bite doesn’t just end with criminal apprehensions. There are also an extensive number of police dogs that will refuse to out a toy, such as that used for narcotics training or motivational games.

Struggling with a dog, screaming for the dog to let go, having to choke the dog to near unconsciousness are all energy draining cycles that cause more frustration than good. So what’s a dog handler to do? How can a handler assure that his or her dog meets and exceeds standards for outing?

I have the answer for you. And if a handler will follow these guides to the letter, practice, and plan ahead for actions, he will succeed.

Let’s walk through the process in the simplest of forms.

First, get rid of those prong collars, electrics, and fur savers. You don’t need any of them. What you need is a standard choke collar, preferably one with smaller links. Make sure your collar is of heavy gauge steel. Next, take the dog to your training location where you can do some long ball throws or tug games with minimum distractions.

Now, we’re ready for action! Let’s assume that the dog likes to play ball. Keep your choke collar and leash on the dog. Take the ball, tease the dog and give a good throw. Now this part is important - don’t bother cheering the dog on. What you’re trying to do here is settle the dog down. Cheering him on will increase his prey response and get him even more excited. Instead, save your energy. Be calm and smooth. Call the dog back to you and pick up the leash.

By now, the dog should be expecting you to start yelling the out command, freaking out or strangling him. But we surprise him this time. You are still calm…very calm. Place the dog beside you in a sit position. Now, let’s side track for a second. What if the dog will not sit? What if he refuses to allow you that control? Well, in that case simply allow him to stand beside you. The sit position helps the cause but is not crucial to the success.

With the dog beside you and the leash in hand, gently slide the choke collar up the neck until it reaches the base of the ears. Make certain that the collar links are literally touching the ear base and continuing around the dogs neck. Ease up on the collar until you have applied enough pressure to keep the collar in place and without any chance of it sliding back down the neck. Don’t choke the dog. Simply keep the collar secure. At this point, the dog will probably start clamping down on the ball - really not wanting to let go. Great! He’s about to learn a strong lesson.

With a tense leash, give the dog the out command in a smooth and firm voice - not yelling. We want the dog to begin to recognize your force of position, respect your command. If you start yelling the out command, the dog will likely start to challenge you before you are ready to proceed with the correction.

Following your command, start counting. Wait to the count of three. If the dog hasn’t released the ball (or tug), you will want to quickly and with a heavy force - snatch the leash straight up until you see the collar tightened against the dog’s ear base. At this point, you should step back with your left foot (wide step) and with a circular motion away from you - sling the dog in a circle.

During the circle, the leash must remain in it’s exact position and not slide down the neck so you must be sure to keep the collar taught and straight up. Next, after the 360 degree leash swing, the dog should basically land in the same position that he started from. Once the dog lands in position, he should have two effects on his bite. Number one - the base of the ear is sensitive and the collar, against the weight of the dog’s body, will cause him discomfort without being dangerous to him. Number two - The circle motion will cause the dog a bit of disorientation and when he lands again, his force on the grip of the ball will suddenly falter. Thus, once the correction is over, the ball should dislodge from the teeth and come flying out of the dogs mouth. If the ball does not come out - you didn’t correct properly. Check the collar - is it in the right place? Check your tension - is it taught enough to keep the collar in place? Check your spin - are you spinning fast and with enough force to get the dog all the way around in a 360 degree circle?

Once you have the spin down and the ball will come out each time you rotate the dog, then you can move on to control factors.

Control factors are those obedience measures that you use when you want to keep the dog under control and out of trouble. Once the dog has released his toy, you will want to heel the dog away from the ball. At a comfortable distance, one where you feel you have control, you should down the dog and make him stay until you have retrieved the ball. Now, you’re ready to repeat the entire process. HINT: once you get a good grip on this techniques, you may want to simply toss the ball directly to your dog while he is on a short leash. This will allow more repetitions for your training and take away a little of that heavy prey drive.

Out training with the toy should be completed daily until the dog will out the toy on immediate command for a minimum of ten times in a row. Only then should you even attempt to work the out on a bite sleeve.

Once you get to the bite sleeve, providing you issue the exact same methods of control, and corrections, your dog should be more than willing to release the bite quickly and allow you to reward him. Make sure that at this stage, the dog is allowed a re-bite as a reward for outing quickly and efficiently.

Canine out training is not complicated. It will not harm the dog. It will not destroy drive. What it will do is get control where it is needed. Remember! On the street, in a bite situation, the dog will be viewed as a weapon of force. The handler will want to make sure that the weapon of force can be properly controlled. The out is not an option - it is a requirement.

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