Service K9 gets tired easy

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Service K9 gets tired easy

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Old 03-10-2017, 06:55 PM
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Service K9 gets tired easy

Hi there everyone. I'm new to the forums and a first time poster.

I'm a K9 handler for a certain agency and I'm concerned about my current service partner's tiring out issue. He's a beautiful dark mask and paws, fawn colored 3 year old Belgian Malinois.

At our facility, we kennel our K9s at our work location when we are off duty. There's roughly 20 or so dogs at our facility which are also kenneled there on a daily basis.

Lately, when I deploy my partner, his attitude has changed quite a bit since I first brought him back about a year ago. His whole temperament and body language just speaks like, "I'm tired and don't want to be doing this.". I try to cheer him up, play with him, get him engaged and make it fun for him since his job is to use his nose. But it looks like he isn't having fun and I feel like there's an underlying problem.

He is a kennel spinner and spins a lot after I put him up after shift. His kennel I'd say is 4' by 6', so there's plenty of room for some movement but not enough for my liking. I wish he had more room. He doesn't spin aggressively or go wild in the kennel, but he definitely hates being in there and away from me, his only real bonding partner. Other handlers on shift watch out for all the dogs at the kennels, including feeding etc. Throughout the day, handlers move in and out of the kennels getting their dog or other regular duties. Other dogs typically bark throughout the day as well.

My concern here is that maybe he's not getting enough rest when I'm off duty due to all this, plus the fact that he only gets to sleep on the painted concrete. When I get on duty, he's happy to see me, has the drive to go. After I work him for a bit, I give him time to rest, either put him in a outdoor kennel or my assigned vehicle. This is when his tiredness really comes into play. After a break, I go get him to work him some more and he's just exhausted as if he took a quick nap or got sleepy and now he doesn't want to work. Then the rest of shift is history as his work levels are poor.

On top of that, it's near the beginning of the month and at the beginning of each month, per policy, I have to administer flea and tick medicine on his coat/skin. We currently use Activyl. Now maybe it's the Activyl causing him to act this way or something and causing me to think it's not enough rest in his actual kennel.

Could Activyl cause this side effect on him? I mean he acts very lethargic lately and I can't remember if these past months if he acts the same way at the beginning of each month.

We just went to the Vet the other day for his annual shots and check up and the vet said everything looks fine and his blood work was normal.

Can anyone help me fix this issue with his tiredness/lethargic temperament? I've brought the issue up to my supervisors but I guess they just don't seem to care and will always claim it's the handlers fault etc etc. I'm a dog person, I love dogs, I'm passionate about them and that's why I chose to become a K9 handler. But I also want the dog to enjoy work and to see him acting this way is causing me to reach out for some guidance.

Thank you.
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Old 03-10-2017, 07:30 PM
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Almost sounds like depression. Is there any way he could go home with you, during off hours? He may just need more human companionship during his off hours, which may help him focus better during his work hours.
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Old 03-10-2017, 07:38 PM
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Almost sounds like depression. Is there any way he could go home with you, during off hours? He may just need more human companionship during his off hours, which may help him focus better during his work hours.
The only thing I can think of, if it were depression, why would he act that way with/for me when we tried to work? Wouldn't the depression kick in after I leave and then him getting excited, and wanting to work with me?

There's no way he could come home with me until he retires. That's just our policy, unfortunately.
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Old 03-10-2017, 07:56 PM
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Almost sounds like depression. Is there any way he could go home with you, during off hours? He may just need more human companionship during his off hours, which may help him focus better during his work hours.
Actually after looking at some info online, maybe it could be depression. It seems like he falls into a lot of the symptoms.

Poor guy. Besides trying to take him home, what else is possible to do to help him?
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Old 03-11-2017, 05:55 AM
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Would you be allowed to make his kennel a more comfortable place for him? Perhaps a simple raised dog bed (Kuranda type - easy to clean, and fits in most run type kennels), a Kong, or food puzzle/toy for meals? This may make him feel more relaxed in his kennel and give him something to do to occupy brain during down times.
Is there any opportunity for him to "just be a dog"? Besides work or structured training does he have the opportunity to run off lead (or on long line) and just explore and play at his leisure?
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:47 AM
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This small kennel also concerns me. I'm unclear on whether this 4' X 6' kennel is one that he's spending the night in, or if he's going home at the end of the day with anyone? Only painted concrete? Why is there no bedding?? Toys? I'd be depressed also, and my heart breaks for this dog. For ALL the dogs there.

There are some facilities whose management are under the impression that items of comfort for the animals will "weaken" them or somehow blunt their skills. I dearly hope this is not the case here. Yes, man uses dogs as tools, but they are also living, thinking beings. I urge you to have your K9 facility evaluated by some representative from the Humane society or the ASPCA or even a canine behaviorist.
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Last edited by mhop; 03-11-2017 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 03-11-2017, 07:38 AM
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You probably can't change admin, but so many working k9's go home as partner's, it works out well for many police forces. I wonder if you can start contacting those forces for their opinions on why it works out and start a discussion. Some very serious k9's go home at night.
I'm guessing your mal (herding breed, handler sensitive) would do a much better job if he went home with you.
Durham, & Toronto Police take home their dogs, for starters.
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Old 03-11-2017, 11:03 AM
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Would you be allowed to make his kennel a more comfortable place for him? Perhaps a simple raised dog bed (Kuranda type - easy to clean, and fits in most run type kennels), a Kong, or food puzzle/toy for meals? This may make him feel more relaxed in his kennel and give him something to do to occupy brain during down times.
Is there any opportunity for him to "just be a dog"? Besides work or structured training does he have the opportunity to run off lead (or on long line) and just explore and play at his leisure?
The raised bed is definitely something I want to look into. I think management likes to steer clear from putting beds in the kennels due to some dogs possibly wanting to destroy or could harm themselves by ingesting parts of the bed. But I think my dog in particular would do fine with one. I'm not sure that would help with his spinning though. I'd say a Kong wouldn't be a good idea since our dogs are rewarded with a kind with a rubber toy/PVC/ etc. So by placing a Kong in his kennel, I think the drive to want to make a find and play with a toy would diminish knowing he has a toy in his kennel.

Yes, I give him lots of time off leash to be a dog. He's very good off leash too and doesn't tend to run very far away from me. I'm gonna focus on maybe giving him 10-15 of off leash time before work each shift to see if that can help improve things.


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Originally Posted by mhop View Post
This small kennel also concerns me. I'm unclear on whether this 4' X 6' kennel is one that he's spending the night in, or if he's going home at the end of the day with anyone? Only painted concrete? Why is there no bedding?? Toys? I'd be depressed also, and my heart breaks for this dog. For ALL the dogs there.

There are some facilities whose management are under the impression that items of comfort for the animals will "weaken" them or somehow blunt their skills. I dearly hope this is not the case here. Yes, man uses dogs as tools, but they are also living, thinking beings. I urge you to have your K9 facility evaluated by some representative from the Humane society or the ASPCA or even a canine behaviorist.
The kennel size was just a guess. It could be bigger than what I'm quoting but I still wish it was bigger for him to move around. We've had to take all our dogs to a private kennel at one point and these kennels were big with an indoor/outdoor portion and every time I went to pick him up, he was happy and not spinning. Unfortunately there's no way for me to have him in a bigger run as we don't have anything bigger available.

The roughly 4'x6' kennel is his kennel he goes in when I'm off duty. He doesn't get to go home with anyone, as per our policy, he goes into his kennel along with about 20 other dogs.

Yes, all he gets to sleep on is the concrete. It's painted, but adding bedding could lead to more problems depending on the dog, such as injuring themselves by ingesting parts of the bedding.

I'd like to have our kennels evaluated by an outside organization, but who exactly would I get in contact with? As much as I care for my dog and the others, I also care for my job/career and don't want it to lead to consequences that could leave me in trouble or unemployed.

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You probably can't change admin, but so many working k9's go home as partner's, it works out well for many police forces. I wonder if you can start contacting those forces for their opinions on why it works out and start a discussion. Some very serious k9's go home at night.
I'm guessing your mal (herding breed, handler sensitive) would do a much better job if he went home with you.
Durham, & Toronto Police take home their dogs, for starters.
I agree. I wish I could take him home at night. His health would be so much better and I know I'd have a much better setup for him at my residence. But to make this change to our agency would take serious policy changes, and the whole thing would need to be revamped. Vehicles would need to be assigned to go home with the handlers etc etc. I am all for this change, but this change would have to become national policy with our agency.

I'm only 1 handler of many. It seems almost impossible for 1 person to try and push for something like this, but then there's also many handlers that prefer to leave the dogs on site kenneled as they wouldn't have to deal with the dog outside of work as they aren't as true of a dog lover as I am.
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Old 03-11-2017, 12:32 PM
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The raised bed is definitely something I want to look into. I think management likes to steer clear from putting beds in the kennels due to some dogs possibly wanting to destroy or could harm themselves by ingesting parts of the bed.
If you don't want to suggest PVC/canvas beds, plain STRAW is better than nothing. It boggles the mind that management cannot do better than this. How do you think that cold, hard concrete is on his joints when he lies down upon it? If the fear is that the dog will chew and ingest parts of whatever is put in his kennel, it speaks to the sociological and psychological condition of the dog, which is incredibly sad. Better to give him nothing than to teach him what is correct to eat or to lie upon? Really?


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Originally Posted by r3gul8r View Post
But I think my dog in particular would do fine with one. I'm not sure that would help with his spinning though. I'd say a Kong wouldn't be a good idea since our dogs are rewarded with a kind with a rubber toy/PVC/ etc. So by placing a Kong in his kennel, I think the drive to want to make a find and play with a toy would diminish knowing he has a toy in his kennel.
They make hundreds of other kinds of toys. Perhaps not one you could leave with him in his kennel as no one has spent, or will spend, enough time with him to teach him not to eat it, but there are other kinds of toys that could be left with him and not be destroyed.


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Originally Posted by r3gul8r View Post
The kennel size was just a guess. It could be bigger than what I'm quoting but I still wish it was bigger for him to move around. We've had to take all our dogs to a private kennel at one point and these kennels were big with an indoor/outdoor portion and every time I went to pick him up, he was happy and not spinning. Unfortunately there's no way for me to have him in a bigger run as we don't have anything bigger available.

The roughly 4'x6' kennel is his kennel he goes in when I'm off duty. He doesn't get to go home with anyone, as per our policy, he goes into his kennel along with about 20 other dogs.

Yes, all he gets to sleep on is the concrete. It's painted, but adding bedding could lead to more problems depending on the dog, such as injuring themselves by ingesting parts of the bedding.
See above.


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Originally Posted by r3gul8r View Post
I'd like to have our kennels evaluated by an outside organization, but who exactly would I get in contact with? As much as I care for my dog and the others, I also care for my job/career and don't want it to lead to consequences that could leave me in trouble or unemployed.
If it were me, I absolutely WOULD NOT HESITATE. Your dog is your PARTNER. Don't you want the best care and living situation that he deserves? You are a trained officer. If you feel that you would be fired for advocating for better care and living conditions for your departments animals, I have no doubt whatsoever that your local newspaper would be on top of this faster than a fly on poop if the worst were to happen to you. Who do you think would come out on top in public opinion if something like this were taken to the press?
Contact: The Humane Society
Contact: The ASPCA
Contact your local shelter for help.
Write an anonymous letter to your superiors asking for posted guidance on how handlers can improve the living situation for their dogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by r3gul8r View Post
I wish I could take him home at night. His health would be so much better and I know I'd have a much better setup for him at my residence. But to make this change to our agency would take serious policy changes, and the whole thing would need to be revamped. Vehicles would need to be assigned to go home with the handlers etc etc. I am all for this change, but this change would have to become national policy with our agency.

I'm only 1 handler of many. It seems almost impossible for 1 person to try and push for something like this, but then there's also many handlers that prefer to leave the dogs on site kenneled as they wouldn't have to deal with the dog outside of work as they aren't as true of a dog lover as I am.
If you are a true dog lover, you know what to do. It is NOT impossible. I guarantee you, that if you paint the same picture for your local animal advocates as you have for us here, a whole lot of action would be forthcoming. Your dog works with and for you all day. He is MORE than just a tool that is put away in a steel box when you're done using it. As I wrote before, your dog is a thinking, feeling, EMOTIONAL creature. You can do more for him.
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Last edited by mhop; 03-11-2017 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 03-11-2017, 02:02 PM
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They make hundreds of other kinds of toys. Perhaps not one you could leave with him in his kennel as no one has spent, or will spend, enough time with him to teach him not to eat it, but there are other kinds of toys that could be left with him and not be destroyed.



I think you are missing the point r3gul8r made regarding the significance of the toy.

To r3gul8r : I can appreciate your concern. A low energy mal just doesn't seem right especially when the dog is on task.

I wonder if your agency has cameras in the area where the dogs are put up while they aren't working. If not, I wonder if you could petition your employer to position one on your dog's kennel and see what takes place regarding restlessness in your absence. Even if you witnessed what you assume is happening, I think you might already have answered your question, as you cited he hates being away from you as you have a quality bond with the dog. Anxiety takes it toll unfortunately.
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