North Dakota K9 teams come together to train new skills

BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) — Dogs can learn some pretty amazing things. K9s across the state are putting in hours this week. They practice new skills at a Midwest K9 training seminar in Bismarck so they can effectively protect their communities.

During the training, the handlers sent their K9 partners into an unfamiliar environment. The dogs were tasked with avoiding those in uniform and finding and neutralize a threat.

“We’re doing the training honestly to protect you, right? If these dogs aren’t properly trained, how are we protecting the citizens of North Dakota and surrounding areas?” said Michael Miller, instructor at the National Police K9 Association, Goodyear Police Department Unit Trainer in Arizona.

Miller and other out-of-state instructors were brought in to train North Dakota teams in real-life scenarios the teams may not have seen before.

“We were like, ‘oh yeah, we could do that too. Why didn’t we do that? and bring it back to the state. We’d rather have the knowledge and not need it,'” Sgt. Lyle Sinclair, K9 trainer for the Bismarck Police Department.

In one scenario, the K9 had to quickly find a dangerous person hiding in a bed. For a dog that works primarily with its nose, the task can be difficult.

“The main thing that people don’t realize is that dogs are biological creatures, just like officers and dog handlers,” Sinclair said.

Officers said they hope they never have to use this training in the field.

“Teaching these dogs to engage a human being is the ultimate hurdle. And we don’t want to come to that. We would prefer people to surrender. But again, we’d rather send a dog and let a dog bite somebody than have to use lethal force and go that route,” Miller said.

Instructors and officers said all K9s in North Dakota performed well on every exercise.

The three days of training will conclude with an “Iron Dog” competition at Haaland Field at 11 a.m. Saturday. There, the dogs will compete in police-related tactics, obedience and agility in front of a crowd.

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