Taking the Time to Tell the Story - Dogs & Trainers
Each dog and each trainer in the fight against poaching has their own story, their own quirks, and their own personality. In this blog, we’re going to visit some of the questions you might have about the process of training dogs and handlers to fight poaching. Specifically, we’re going to elaborate on the methods used by Invictus K9, a Wild in Africa partner charity, and a huge proponent in the mitigation of poaching in Africa.
How do they train dogs to be vigilant for poachers? How do they train handlers to utilize them? Read on to learn about Invictus K9’s strategy to utilize dogs and trainers alike!
Do handlers bond with the dogs?
“Yes, 100%. The dog is a handler’s partner, so they're very much a team and they must have a good relationship to be effective. You can see the difference if you look a K9/Handler relationship where the dog has no spirit and doesn’t want to work. It just goes through the motions.
When a dog is trained alongside its Handler and a bond is created, the dog wants to work and there’s energy behind its behaviour. You can tell the dog is happy and as a team, they are effective.” - Jay, Invictus K9 Co-Founder
What are some challenges they face?
“Typically, where a lot of Handlers come from, people don't have a natural rapport with animals. Often, they don't view them as companions, and rather they are there to serve a purpose – either they are working animals, or they are food. It's quite interesting to watch the Handlers develop over time.
They volunteer for the program, and they know what’s in store, but initially they're kind of standoffish with the dog and it's not natural. As soon as they realise the value of the dog and how the dog can help them, they start spending time with the dog and creating a bond.
After that, the relationship really transforms quite dramatically, and the Handlers develop a genuine love for the dogs.” - Mike, Invictus K9 Co-Founder.
Do they stay in contact with the dogs?
“Yes, we provide free advice to the people we work with. Once the program's finished, we consider it an ongoing relationship, and we regularly return to check in.
A large part of our training focuses on developing a rapport between dog and Handler, even if it’s an exercise in grooming. Grooming is not only functional, it serves to deepen the bond between human and animal.
A dog is a vitally important tool in a toolbox of capabilities, but it's still a living, breathing animal that needs to be looked after, and they get looked after. They get the best food; they get vaccinations, and they get weighed every week.
The kennel manager is very much a part of assessing them and we teach that throughout the program. We are continuously pushing for the health and well-being of the animal.” - Jay, Invictus K9 Co-Founder
You can also get involved and show your support to Invictus K9 by purchasing a Wild In Africa Invictus K9 Charity Bracelet.
With each purchase of the Invictus K8 bracelets, not only will you receive a meaningful and beautiful piece of jewelry, but you will also play an important role in saving endangered African wildlife populations.
This bracelet, made with Regalite, is a dark black to cocoa brown color with veins of khaki running through it. It is thought to be excellent for healing!
50% of the purchase price is donated directly to Invictus K9!
Written by Taylor Plate
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