Winter K9 Operations

Winter time is upon us and brings on challenges that the other seasons don’t present, such as freezing water/rain, frigid temperatures and traction. Everyone must equip themselves for it, including us, the police.


There is what is called Crampons.  What in the world is a Crampon; well you have probably seen them before.  Crampons are a device that strap onto the bottom of your boots that provides you additional traction.  Mountain climbers use them for in the snow and ice, but the types they use have quite large and sharp spikes/teeth on them.  There is a style of Crampons that are for more general use, but are excellent for police work.  I have been using a pair for several years.  The type I use, you can get at your local sporting goods store.  They are made out of rubber and have small studs on the bottom that protrude out about 1/8”.  It isn’t much, but they do the job.  No more slipping, sliding or falling on the ice.  I know there has been numerous times I wouldn’t have been able to do my job if I hadn’t had a pair of Crampons.  There are several sizes, so it is best to wear your duty boots when you go shopping for them, just to make sure they fit properly.

Now for your canine, what protection is there for them, or what protective measures should we take?  The most common canine breeds for police, generally do not need much more protection than what they are born with.  Police canines, generally have a double coat which provides them insulation and warmth.  That double coat also provides some protection from the rain, freezing rain and snow.  The canine knows what they need to do to protect them, such as shaking the water and snow off, but my advice is to keep a couple of bath towels in the cruiser to help dry them off.  Shaking may or may not remove the frozen rain from their coat, so it may require them warming up in the cruiser and getting toweled off.

Between their pads, webbed feet and claws, canines have pretty good traction, no matter what the surface.  They can slip and slide some, but since they have four legs compared to our two, it is easier for them to stay upright.  So traction generally isn’t an issue for them.  Depending on the animal, their paws may be sensitive to the various ice melts that are applied to the roadway and sidewalks.  In most cases you can just rinse and dry their paws after being exposed to these products, but that isn’t always the case.  You may need to get little booties, known as MuttLuks for them.  MuttLuks are available in various designs, ranging from simple to some with traction.in my experience, they aren’t something that you can just throw on their paws and go to work.  They will feel uncomfortable and foreign to them and be trying to kick them off or pull them off with their teeth.  Just like everything else, it is a matter of training.  It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, you can put them on during training sessions and get them use to them.  Start out with the canine wearing them for short periods of time and gradually increase the time over several training sessions until they pay no attention to them.

Have a warm and healthy winter.

Stay Safe!

 

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