Humans and dogs enjoy a special relationship, both social and professional. For the latter, there are many examples with which we are all familiar: SWAT teams use dogs to help clear a room, soldiers use dogs to detect IEDs, isolated facilities use dogs to guard against perimeter breaches, customs agencies use dogs to sniff out drugs. In each of these cases, the dog is carefully vetted and highly trained. They may be working in difficult and stressful conditions – for example, in the pitch dark or under fire and they may need have skills that go counter to nature, like the ability to remain completely silent. This high level of training while extremely useful can also be very expensive.
There’s another class of working canine we see in hospitals, at disaster sites and in classrooms: the therapy dog. These dogs require far less training. They don’t need to attack or defend or detect. They are vetted for socialization skills, personality and behavior. We just need them to hang out with us.
But there is another role K-9s can play that lands midway on the range between therapy and SWAT team: a low level Security Dog. Not trained to detect, protect or attack but rather to complement a straight security function. After all, the mere presence of a dog has a deterrence effect. An adversary views a dog as an unknown whose actions they cannot predict. To plan an attack or event, a criminal can study the coverage of CCTV cameras or the kinds of technology in place. But a dog doesn’t come with Specifications. Even if this kind of Security Dog is clearly not an attack dog, how the dog would react in a given situation can’t be predicted and mostly isn’t worth the risk to a would-be adversary. We know that a burglar given a range of homes to attack would often rather skip the one that they know to have a dog.
But at this point in time, we just don’t see the use of dogs in this kind of professional security function.
Yet at so many of the security workshops and seminars we conduct, when attendees are asked what they’d like to add to their security system the answer more often than not is K-9s.
Perhaps security managers perceive K-9s as expensive. And for a certain level of dog, that is absolutely true. But for the kind of role a Security Dog as described here would play, it can be cost effective. With simply vetting, and basic training of dog and officer, I’m sure even my pup Nero could do the job. The adversary doesn’t know that Nero hasn’t spent 24 months at an elite school. And Nero’s amazing sense of smell and hearing, coupled with his fabulous personality and willingness to help are no less for not having graduated with a fancy diploma.
A dog can help with officer safety, especially if the security officer is armed. Stealing an officer’s firearm with a dog at hand is just harder. Responding to an alarm with a dog in tow is preferable, too.
Last but certainly not least is the public relations function that dogs fulfill. Dogs simply make people feel good. Dogs have the ability to draw attention and quickly shift a mood in a positive way. The good guys love dogs and the bad guys would prefer to avoid them. What a perfect combination. Physical security companies should consider K-9 programs that cater to the clients who don’t need a high level K-9 but could definitely benefit from a Security Dog.