You’ve seen them, you know at least one, and we often put up with them – but doing so can get us all in trouble as a team and a department.  Quitters are not good police dog handlers.  Quitting is one of the reasons we get in trouble and it is a negative habit that can lead to disastrous results down the road when allowed to occur.

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” -Vince Lombardi 

I was recently invited to observe training for a small training group.  During the second exercise, a “bite-able suspect” in a bite suit was seated in the driver’s seat of a car, door open and he was refusing to exit and comply with commands from the initial officer on scene following a traffic stop.   After the K9 unit drove up and the handler exchanged information with the initial officer, the handler walked to the back door of his car to retrieve his police dog.  I noticed he awkwardly tried to position himself in front of the door as if to prepare to block the dog from exiting.  As the door slowly opened, I watched almost in disbelief as the dog immediately bolted out of the car door past the handler, refused to comply with a weak recall from the handler and proceeded directly into the car to bite the suspect.   The handler went to the dog, removed it from the bite, and walked back to the car in obvious disgust.  I’m not sure a critique occurred but the “trainer” running the exercise reset the exercise.  The handler did not retry the exercise, entered his car and backed out.  

“Quitting is the easiest thing to do.” -Robert Kiyosaki 

Later, I was standing at the next exercise for another traffic stop that presented its own challenges.  It was also a little dark in the area where I was standing so I said something to another handler nearby like “Hey, let me know when that other handler pulls in for this exercise because I don’t want to be standing anywhere near here in case his dog bolts out again and thinks I might be the target.  I don’t think he can control his dog.”  That handler agreed and added the other handler had already left the training because he wasn’t doing well and it sounded to me like that was something that happened quite frequently.  He simply quit.

We all get a little frustrated at training occasionally.  Sometimes our dog performs well and other times it presents challenges.  However, I’ve learned that quitting and simply driving or walking away from problems in frustration does not resolve the problems.  I’ve learned that bad behavior ignored will not correct bad behavior without further intervention.

“Success seems to be connected with action.  Successful people keep moving.  They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”  -Conrad Hilton

One of the other problems I saw with this particular situation was the lack of supervision – would that handler have driven off if his supervisor had been present?  What type of “supervised training” was really being conducted that would allow someone to drive off before finishing the scheduled training session – particularly when performing so poorly?  How was that training being recorded and I wonder how the written results of that failed exercise were documented on a training log?  Did the “trainer” later share the results with that handler’s supervisor? 

If I were in charge of that training, that handler would have completed all of the exercises despite the number of attempts to complete successfully because it was obviously apparent both the handler and dog needed some work.  I didn’t inquire further but I was curious.  “I’m now quitting and leaving because my dog is a piece of shit and I can’t control it and I don’t want to try to correct it” is not a reason to leave training before it’s concluded.  It’s the best reason to stay.  And, driving off will not correct the problems with both the handler and the dog.  Yes – it is a problem with the handler as well as the dog.  And – you probably know it is more of a problem with the handler if you’ve seen similar predicaments.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” -Muhammad Ali

This exercise was not the first time I’ve seen these circumstances.  I’ve watched many handlers unable to control their dog and they will either quit or circumvent the exercise to compensate for that lack of control when nobody holds them accountable.  And, I’ve seen trainers and supervisors allow this conduct to occur without consequences.  What type of message is being delivered?  You get what you accept?  I’ve seen other handlers plead to run an exercise over and over again so that they can get it right when they are having control issues.  Who do you think is the better handler?  Who do you think is more likely to get in trouble? 

It’s easy to say “I quit” and be a quitter but it will not solve problems and trouble will come.  “Never quit” is a good attitude for handlers, trainers and supervisors to adopt and quitting should not be an option. 

Take care, be safe and never quit….

Bill Lewis II

This “reason” was originally shared on November 11, 2015.

“Trouble” isn’t always related to incidents or predicaments that directly result in lawsuits, claims or discipline. Often times, our actions or inactions that are missed, deliberately overlooked or downplayed may lead to nothing or can later lead to mistakes or bad incidents with minimal to serious repercussions.  A reason we get in trouble can be minor or simple at first glance – or even serious – but a combination of these factors can often have disastrous consequences.   

These “reasons” are provided periodically as a collection in-progress based on actual incidents and real attitudes as well as feedback received at HITS, the CNCA Training Institute, and the “Canine Liability 360” classes.  As Gordon Graham says, “We haven’t found new ways to get in trouble.” So, as the list progresses, you may or may not read something familiar to you that you have personally experienced or seen others encounter. If you encountered or heard about it, did you learn from it?