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.
Due to an increase in officers entering residencies and parks where dogs may roam unleased, there is a good chance officers will run into untrained or uncompliant dogs. While some pups are naturally friendly and curious, others are territorial and aggressive, making it difficult for law enforcement to perform their jobs.
To prevent injury to oneself and unnecessary harm to these pets, VirTra collaborated with the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA) as well as the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) to create the LEDET Dog Encounters nationally-certified curriculum 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 extremely unlikely to bite or cause harm. Whereas an aggressive dog will bare their teeth, growl and/or maintain a tense posture. By recognizing these simple signs, officers will know if they can proceed or need extreme caution.
In addition to creating curriculum that teaches which signs to look for, VirTra took training a step further by creating a variety of simulated scenarios. 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.