The new officer perfects her command: Leave it!
The focus shifts to heeling.
Dutch is K9 Falko’s native language, and now it’s time for Officer Sarah Boespflug to learn it. Along with brushing up on a new language, she also minds the tone and timing of her commands, corrections, and rewards.
It’s a new venture for the Madison Police Department, and for Officer Boespflug, who joined the MPD K9 Unit in January 2017 after Officer Rose Mansavage was promoted to sergeant.
When a new K9 team is formed, the handler typically goes off to school for four to six weeks with a vendor who also provides their new working dog. There, the officer and K9 get to know each other and begin their journey together.
In this case, Falko was already a highly-trained working dog. The duo needed time to bond before starting their work together, and a transition plan was developed. The two hit it off right away and were able to begin training within a week!
The team trained for a total of five weeks, starting with the basics as Officer Boespflug acclimated and Falko adjusted to working with her.
“Everything I did was so slow,” Officer Boespflug recalls. “He was like, ‘Okay, human. Come on, let’s do this!’”
K9 Falko, catching onto Officer Boespflug’s rookie status, started to see where he could push the envelope.
“He was like a mischievous child!” Boespflug said with a laugh. “His trained response when we’re doing drug work is to sit, and he knew that he’d get rewarded. I hadn’t done enough reps with him to know what his behavior looks like— and to know that he was screwing with me to get treats!”
Falko eventually realized he’ll still get treats without having to trick his partner, and the team gradually hit their stride. They began to work on more challenging skills once the basics were squared away.
“It’s like a ballroom dance where you have to learn to dance with a new partner,” Boespflug explained. “Now that we have our dance, we actually work so much better together.”
Soon the team was off to Michigan to become independently certified by the North American Working Dog Association. More on that story next week on the Capital K9s blog!
Did you know…
Officer Boespflug’s and K9 Falko’s training is funded entirely by private donations made to Capital K9s!
Make your donation today!
Pictured above: Officer Boespflug and K9 Falko during a recent training exercise in Madison.