Sunday, September 11, 2016

Belgian Malinois: What Happens When They Fail Police Training?

I recently read an article in the Washington Post about the use of Belgian Malinois at the White House. It is about two years old, you can read it here.

What caught my attention was the part about training and when they remove the puppies from their mothers. “The training begins three days after birth. It starts with “biosensor stressing”: stimulating the puppy’s toes with Q-tips, breathing in its face, exposing it to a variety of people and stressful sounds: gunfire, thunder, sirens, motorcycles.” I have read that puppies can be taken from 6-8 weeks, but also that proper police training should not begin until about 12-15 months. I do not know. What is the typical process?

The trainer the Washington Post article uses says the puppies are removed early in order to form a bond with the human. I get that and understand that the momentum is important to start developing all the required working dog traits and habits. But what happens when the puppy fails and is put up for adoption? It seems that its sense of bonding/attachment may get pretty jacked up.

I mention this because I believe this likely happened to our Malinois. She is nearly 3 years old now and we have had her for 6 ½ months. She has adjusted well to “family” life. One odd thing, to us anyway, is how super affectionate she has become.

By our observations, it seems like she never received much nurturing and attention before - and now she constantly craves more of it. She jumps into my wife’s lap and curls up like a puppy. She also plays like a puppy. All the time. Non-stop. It’s like she is reliving her puppyhood all over again. She loves all the baby talk and affection towards her.

This is not bad or unwanted behavior. We do keep her enthusiasm in check. But it made me think of what she, and other “failed” pups, missed in their early development. I frequently wonder what she was like and what her life was like when she was a pup. I believe it is very similar to children who do not get the nurturing and attention they need and later develop attachment disorders and other psychological issues.

It has been interesting and warming to see her develop this way. I believe it shows that these dogs can be re-trained for family life but it takes some extra work and care. Here are some recent pictures of our Malinois doing this and enjoying the attention. Do you have similar experiences?


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