Friday, February 24, 2012

Furry Friends

Police dogs are a very common part of police task forces today. They can be used for various reasons such as drug detection, bomb detection, looking for cadavers, and apprehending a fleeing criminal. For this blog I will be focusing on the use of canines to catch a criminal. What most people don’t know is that when dogs are used to capture a criminal there are two different ways the dog can go about seizing the individual. Some dogs are trained to bite and hold and others learned to simply bark and hold. The bite and hold method is what most people tend to think of when they picture a dog apprehending a suspect. This is where the trained K-9 officer releases the dog and it chases after the individual. When they catch the person they are trained to bite onto an arm or leg to slow them down or bring them to the ground. The dog does not release until the officer gives them the command to let get. The video below shows an example of what the Bite and hold method looks like.

The problem with this method is that a lot of criminals are injured pretty severely in the process, which can lead to the criminal fighting back, injuring the dog and future law suites. This is where the bark and hold method comes into place. For this routine the dog is trained to chase after the fleeing criminal and once the animal catches up they are supposed to circle the individual and bark at them signaling to the officer where they are and that they found the suspect. If the criminal becomes violent or tries to get away while waiting for the officer the dog is trained to bite onto the individual, holding them there so that the officer can make the arrest. There is a downfall to the method as well, in one of the articles that I read titled “Barks or Bites? The Impact of Training on Police Canine Force Outcomes” the author, Charlie Mesloh, exclaims that “Critics of this system believe that it places the dogs at greater risk by allowing the suspect the opportunity to arm himself, injure or kill the dog, or escape”. The video below shows how the bark and hold system works.

In this video the dog is being trained, so you will notice that in the beginning the canine runs up to the trainer and bites him, which he is not supposed to do. As the video progresses the animal learns to not do that and by the end he has learned to not bite right away. As you can see the dog stands there barking vigorously at the trainer and it is not until he makes some sudden movement that the dog bites onto him and holds until he is told to let go. I realize that in the beginning it may appear that they are hitting the dog with the whip but they never strike the animal they are just using it as a distraction. These dogs are very obedient and are very useful in the policing field but I was wondering which method you believe works best because they both have their pros and cons. I personally like the bark and hold method because it does not injure the criminal at first but if they decide to be uncooperative then the dog knows to bite and hold the individual.  

Work Cited:


  1. I agree with you the bark and hold command seems more appropriate. I feel like having the dog go and attack right away can cause many problems but if the dog is told to bark and only attack if needed will be safer for the dog and the criminal.

  2. Growing up around a few police officers and some being K-9 unit has really inspired me to work in the narcotics unit once I am a police officer. The Bark and hold method is typically a lot more common in dogs that I know. You would think that it would seem to cause less problems and hopefully scare an offender before they are grabbed onto by the dogs sharp teeth. Though both methods are used there are both pros and cons like Anthony had stated above. A dog attacking right away could prevent a bad situation before it has happened, but a con could be that the offender could have wanted to stand down before the dog attacked. Either way both show success in the law enforcement field, it's just a matter of what a K-9 officer would prefer.