GARDNER — The K-9 officers that police departments have on patrol today still search for lost people and criminals, but they are not your grandfather’s police dogs.
They are a whole lot more.
The dogs are trained in narcotics, bomb detection and tactical work.
Now the K-9 training coordinator for the state police, Sgt. Jerry Molet said that in the 22 years he has been working with dogs, techniques and the focus of K-9 use have grown significantly. He said dogs used to be difficult-to-handle animals that were trained as guard dogs and to use their aggression in helping police make arrests.
“Now the use of K-9s has evolved,” he said today.
He organized a police dog training session at the Colonial Bed and Breakfast this week. Almost 75 police K-9 teams from throughout Massachusetts and four other states are participating in classroom discussions, but mostly taking to the field to train on property owned by North Central Correctional Institution in Gardner and the Aubuchon Hardware Co. warehouse in Westminster.
Sgt. Molet said trainers from Maryland, Florida and Indiana are helping officers train their dogs for specialized skills, including scent detection and responding to clicker training, in which a clicker is used to associate good work with a reward. Dogs used to assist in arrests and defend officers are also given aggression work.
Adding more skills to a dog’s skill set has meant not just looking for a dog at the pound, but finding a specific type of dog.
“We’re looking for the 1 percent of that breed,” he said. “We have been able to pretty much tailor what we are looking for in a dog.”
Video by Rick Cinclair, read more at telegram.com