Going Through The Motions

Over the last few months there have been a lot of handlers returning and training with us, which is always encouraged by all of our staff.  We actually love to see handlers, which have graduated, and return to train with us.  This affords us the opportunity to see their progress, assist with problem solving, and brag on them a little to the new handlers that are going through training.  Their return training has sparked this article.  Maybe article is not the correct term to use for this…more like a warning letter to teams.

In our handler’s courses we use a phrase, “All training must be as varied and realistic as possible”, but what I have noticed the last few months, just sitting back and watching the pure art of teams working, as I often enjoy this beauty, is a disconnect with this phrase.  I can only assume that this in not uncommon, nor has it just started, but for some reason I’ve noticed it.  Now it sticks out to me like a scratch on a new car.  No one else really notices it, but because it has caught my eye, I can’t seem to stop seeing it.  I am drawn to it every time I see it and it just nags me.  Teams just, “GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS”.  You know what I mean?  You may have heard someone say or even said one of these yourself; “I just need to get my hours in.”, or “I just need to put some hides out.” Or maybe this one, “Let me just run a session real quick.”  I know what these statements mean and know that we don’t use these in the terms of being a bad thing, but these statements just reaffirm what I have been seeing when the teams are training.  This same type of attitude, these simple and nonchalant statements have placed teams in a mode just the same.  A mode of just “GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS”.

I am using this avenue as a warning to handlers, something that has been on my heart.  Evaluate your training, don’t allow yourself to just “Go Through The Motions” of training.   Believe me I am not speaking from a pedestal.  I have been there many times in my career.  Most times it took a tragic event, a news article, a failed deployment, or just a deployment where I looked back at and asked myself, “How did I make it through that one?”  Well, here is my eye opener for everyone reading this.  Don’t just “Go Through The Motions”.

Here are three little things you can do to be better prepared for every situation.  Although, not all-inclusive, a little bit can go a long way.

  1. Be Mindful.  You’re not training to just get your training hours in because case law says you have to.  You’re training to become a more efficient and reliable team.
  2. Train with a purpose.  Rather your training purpose is for problem solving, tactics, or endurance it doesn’t matter.  Simply have a purpose.  Think through each session and set it up to meet that specific purpose.  You can accomplish more in a 10 minute session by planning a session out that other handlers accomplish in multiple sessions that are not planned out.
  3. Train like you deploy.  This is not “just training.”  Remember that muscle memory will kick in during stressful situations.  Therefore, habits are critical.  Get into the habit during training.  Some of those things could be:
  • Deploy from cover
  • Keep your gun hand free
  • Give proper announcements
  • Train in the rain, heat, snow, ect.

Use every minute of your training to prepare yourselves.  Seize the moments of training you have to get better, to equip yourselves with the tools necessary to stay alive.  We never know when the end is coming or when we are going to find ourselves in a situation where we are faced with that ultimate decision.  The time to get through them is not at that moment.  Give yourself a chance.  Prepare during training.  A little thinking, a little preparation, and a few little things go a long way.  Be ready with purposeful training.

-AJ Vargas
Director of Operations
Custom Canine Unlimited

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