“Why did you send the dog?” (NEW)

by Bill Lewis II

“Why did you send the dog”?” is one of the most important questions a trainer, supervisor or observer can ask a handler after each training deployment exercise (scenario-based or reality-based) or a real world deployment whether the deployment was justified or not in the opinion of the person asking this question. The question should be incorporated into your training and real world deployments as a matter of routine.

“Why did you send the dog?” is not a trick question nor intended to confuse a handler. It is an opportunity for the handler to thoroughly explain the reasons the handler deployed the dog and justify verbally that deployment per policy, practice and case law. It begins a mental muscle-memory process for the handler after a deployment that can also be related to the initial decision making process to assist in making the right decision to deploy. This practice can assist with report writing after a real world deployment. Verbally practice your justifications after each deployment. Verbally practice your justification for another handler’s deployment as a way to rehearse and prepare.

It is just as important to ask “Why didn’t you send the dog?” if a handler decides not to deploy after being given a set of circumstances to consider during a training scenario – and some of your training scenarios should be “non-deployment situations” to test the handler’s decision making because we know dogs aren’t deployed in every single street situation.

I subscribe to a blog from “Leadership and Learning with Kevin Eikenberry” and read a great post several years ago titled “The Most Powerful (and Dangerous) Question in the World.” Here’s the quick intro;

“Questions in general can be incredibly powerful, and the right one asked at the right time can change a situation, a relationship and even the world. But while lots of questions are great, there is one that is simple, universally used, and incredibly powerful – and that power can be for good, or for ill. It’s just one word – ‘Why?’ Why is it so powerful?”

While I was reading the post, I was thinking K9 applicability and the question “Why did you send the dog?” that I’ve asked handlers many, many times popped into my head as well as some other related aspects to K9. I think it would be good for handlers, supervisors and trainers to read this entire post (it’s only one page) and see how you can incorporate the “Why?” into your training, after action review and debriefing processes. You can access the post by clicking here.

Bill Lewis II © February 2022

This article was published in the USPCA Monthly Newsletter in March 2022 and posted online at TacticalK9USA.com on May 3, 2024.