Posted on Nov. 16, 2023 by Niki Nelson

It’s estimated that 53% of US households have a dog, which totals 63+ million homes. As such, there is a significantly greater chance of encountering subjects with pets.

With officers entering residencies and parks where dogs may roam unleashed, there is a good chance officers will run into untrained or uncompliant dogs. While many pups are naturally friendly and curious, some are territorial and aggressive, making it difficult for law enforcement to perform their jobs. A bite from a large, aggressive dog is quite painful and could pose health risks.

To prevent injury to oneself and unnecessary harm to pets, the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA) as well as the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) to created the LEDET Dog Encounters coursework for officers.

For law enforcement officers to gauge their safety, they must first understand canine behavior, which manifests itself via clues to the dog’s mood. For example, a dog with a wagging tail and relaxed posture is happy and unlikely to bite or cause harm. An aggressive dog will bare their teeth, growl and/or maintain a tense posture. By recognizing these signs, officers will know if they can proceed or must exercise extreme caution.

VirTra took training a step further by creating a variety of simulated scenarios that focus on dog behaviors. Each scenario has the officer practice correctly identifying the canine’s behavior and diffusing the situation if necessary. An example is featured below in our scenario titled “Property Alarm Response”, where the responding officer correctly analyzes the dog’s behavior and responds properly:

This form of realistic, skill-honing training is designed to reduce and potentially eliminate incidents where an officer kills a family pet due to an inability to properly understand the dog’s intention. Not only does shooting a pet cause distress to the owner, but oftentimes, costly lawsuits can result. Departments can limit these incidents effectively through proper, increased training.

To learn more about this coursework specially developed by the NSA and NLECAA and brought to simulation by VirTra, contact a specialist!

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