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  • Metropolitan Security Services

Security Dog Handlers: Key Roles & Responsibilities

There are many instances where a range of security services may be required. From mobile patrol services at commercial properties and reception security in residential buildings to event security and alarm response teams. One such service that is also available is the use of security dogs and their handlers.

Security dogs alone offer a range of sub-services through their unique abilities. However, as useful and talented as the dogs themselves are, their trained handlers are just as important. Keep reading as we discuss why this is, along with the role of both security dogs and their handlers and how you can get into this career field.

What is a Security Dog Handler?

Before we describe what a security dog handler is, it makes sense for us to first explain what security dog services are.

Security dog services use trained dogs to offer a range of security services that help deter and prevent crime, including patrol services, search parties and substance detection.

The dogs used for such services are incredibly well-trained, thus making for an effective form of security, being both a visual deterrent to criminal activity as well as a functioning one. However, whilst working dogs within a K9 unit are extensively trained, it’s essential that they have an equally trained, and licenced, handler working with them.

Security dog handlers are individuals who are licensed to work with and handle trained security dogs. They will also have undertaken their own training on how to correctly and safely handle security dogs. This includes knowing the necessary commands to control the dogs, ensuring that they are able to perform any required security actions where necessary and be recalled where necessary.

On top of handling security dogs, these individuals are also involved in ensuring the security of an event, individual or premises, working with the dog rather than relying on it.

Role Responsibilities

There are various responsibilities that may be undertaken by a security dog handler, due to the range of security services that K9 units can offer. This can include:

●      Carrying out routine patrols of premises

●      Controlling crowds

●      Working with the dog to search for missing people

●      Working with the dog to detect illegal substances, firearms or explosives

●      Protecting people, valuable items or buildings

On top of these active working responsibilities, there are other important aspects of being a professional dog handler that you may not first think about. This includes attending training courses with the dog you work with, along with generally taking care of your dog and ensuring its wellbeing both during and outside of active work!

Some security dogs live with their assigned handler, whilst others live in kennels. Either way, it’s important to build a trusting relationship with the dog you work with, as you are responsible for ensuring both the dog’s safety whilst working and the safety of others whilst you’re responsible for handling the dog.

Where Might They Work?

As we’ve already mentioned, there are various working responsibilities that a dog handler may undertake. As such, there are various places that they may subsequently work.

Firstly, there are different employers you may work for as a security dog handler, which subsequently affects the environments you may work in. For example, if you work for the police, then you may be required to work outside in any kind of weather, such as to undertake a lost/missing person search.

Alternatively, if you work for a security company, then it may be more likely that you’d carry out supervision or building patrol services. The work you’d be doing is likely to change on any given day depending on the specific service required from you, so you should expect to work in all sorts of environments.

Typical Protection Dog Breeds & Their Training

There are various breeds of dogs that can be used for security purposes, as different breeds possess desirable traits suitable to the different security services on offer.

Predominantly, the breeds used differ between the roles of sniffer dogs and general patrol dogs.

Narcotics, Explosives & Firearm Detection

When it comes to identifying illegal substances and items, security sniffer dogs are used, as they’re able to detect such items in a way we can’t: using their nose. This is particularly useful for when people attempt to hide such substances or items, thus making them harder to find from visual inspections alone.

Research suggests that dogs’ noses are up to 10,000 times stronger than ours, meaning they can smell many things that we cannot - hence why they’re relied upon for such security purposes!

Common breeds used for this include:

●      English springer spaniels

●      Cocker spaniels

●      Labradors

●      Beagles

●      Bloodhounds

As for the training required, these dogs are often trained by experienced handlers. They’re often trained quite young, and this will involve teaching them to find a ball through the form of play, with a scent gradually being introduced onto the ball (e.g. tobacco or marijuana) so that an association is formed between the two.

A desired behaviour is then taught for the dog to perform in order to alert its handler when it finds its ball. Eventually, this leads to the dog detecting the scent of a real drug or other illegal item and performing the alerting behaviour.

Patrol & Security Supervision

For more general security purposes, such as patrol rounds, door supervision and additional premises protection services, dogs are used for various reasons.

Firstly, they act as a visual deterrent. Many of the breeds used for this purpose tend to be larger and appear more intimidating compared to the previous breeds we discussed. This often helps to deter people from committing criminal behaviour due to the fear of being harmed.

Not only do they look intimidating, but they also have much faster reaction times than humans and are fast, agile and incredibly intelligent - not to mention loyal. All of these factors combined with adequate training means these dogs are able to detect potential threats and act accordingly.

Common breeds used for this include:

●      German Shepherd Dogs

●      Dobermanns

●      Belgian Shepherd Dogs (Malinois)

General security dogs tend to undergo a more intensive training course, which focuses on safety, control and efficient behaviours. The dog will be trained how to effectively chase and take down individuals, to safely bite individuals in a way that is not fatal but incapacitates them, to stay focused and maintain discipline in a range of situations, amongst other things.

Whilst this training is intense, with regular training still carried out for actively working security dogs, they are constantly rewarded for their hard work and well-cared for both on and off duty.

Pursuing a Career in Dog Handling

If you’re looking to pursue a career in dog handling, then there are certain qualifications, licences and skills you will need to do so.

Firstly, before becoming a security dog handler, you will first need to become a security guard. In order to work in the security industry, you must hold a valid security licence - known as an SIA (Security Industry Authority) licence. In order to obtain one of these, you must be at least 18 years old and are required to have completed an accredited licence-linked SIA training course.

As for qualifications, there aren’t necessarily any specific general education qualification requirements to become a dog handler, however you will need to complete a NASDU qualification. This qualification recognises your abilities to be a responsible dog handler in the eyes of the National Association of Security Dog Users and will teach you the basics of being a dog handler.

As for the skills needed to be a dog handler, you will need to:

●      Be alert

●      Have good judgement-making skills

●      Work well under pressure

●      Have patience

●      Have a decent fitness ability

●      Be empathetic towards dogs

●      Have effective communication skills

Trained Guard Dogs & Handlers at Metropolitan Security

If you’d like to learn more about security dog handlers or think you’d benefit from the services they can offer, then reach out to us here at Metropolitan Security.

Our K9 teams consists of highly trained dogs and licensed guard dog handlers, who work together to protect you and your assets. Our professional teams are trained to offer the following services:

●      Building searches

●      Personal searches

●      Crowd control

●      Narcotics detection

●      Evidence searches

●      Door supervision

●      Security patrols

We also offer a range of additional security protection services, including reception security, event security, keyholding services, mobile patrols and alarm responses. Operating 24/7 with teams based across the UK, you can utilise our protection services whenever and wherever you need.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your security requirements, and rest assured that we won’t disappoint.

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