His Weekends are for the Dogs

  • Published
  • By Capt. Maren Barney
  • 310th Space Wing
Most Reservists spend their non-UTA weekends relaxing, catching up on chores around the house, shopping, or finding a million other ways to enjoy their time off. Not Tech. Sgt. Jesse Tames of the 310th Security Forces Squadron. He acts as a behavioral consultant to law enforcement agencies throughout the state to determine whether a dog has the ability and temperament to be a working police dog.

A series of protocol tests are used to gauge a dog's reaction to stress. "If a dog cowers at loud noises or at signs of aggression by people, then the dog shouldn't be working a law enforcement patrol," said Sergeant Tames. "You need a dog that is going to protect you, find the bad guys and find narcotics."

Sergeant Tames uses an escalating series of aggressive noises and actions to test a dog's response. He starts by cracking a whip at a distance of 75' and then advances on the dog.

The ideal response for a dog falls in a narrow margin between standing its ground and advancing upon the threat. It's possible for a dog to display too much aggression - it indicates that a police officer may lose control of the dog. This could lead to civil liability and law suits for a law enforcement agency.

But a dog that cowers or shrinks away from the noise is immediately determined to be unsuitable. In some cases, an agency has already spent thousands of dollars on a dog and news that a dog isn't trainable isn't news that is accepted readily. "It's hard when an agency has spent five or six thousand dollars on a dog that does not have the drive to be able to protect the handler on the street. That's where I save them lot money before they buy the dog," Said Tames.

"I tell them that they can keep the dog if they want, but do they really want a dog that they can't trust 100% when they need to," said Sergeant Tames. "These non-aggressive dogs are normally put up for adoption to good homes that need a good pet"

Sergeant Tames applies the knowledge he acquired as a military working dog handler to training dogs for detection and patrol for law enforcement agencies. He is also a member of Centennial Working Dogs. It's a non-profit group that trains personal protections dogs purely as a hobby.