Police K9s are fascinating to observe as they perform a myriad of functions, including tracking and trailing people, building searches, evidence recovery, narcotics and explosives detection, and apprehension of criminal suspects.The K9's control and obedience are captivating, yet how are these dogs able to perform such demanding tasks? Welcome to North Edge K9, Inc. North Edge K9 specializes in police dog import and training, as well as providing personal protection K9s to individuals and families. The company's headquarter and training facility is located on 30 secluded acres in Gorham, ME. Multi-level K9 training is offered to both law enforcement and civilian customers and their dogs. North Edge K9 also provides trained service dogs for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. [caption id="attachment_2916" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Christian Stickney with K9 Blaze (left) and Hagen Blaszyk with K9 Ocean (right).[/caption] North Edge K9 is co-owned by Christian Stickney and Hagen Blaszyk. Christian and most of the company's trainers are active police K9 handlers with many years of real world experience and a firm grasp on what it takes for these dogs to work the streets. Often, North Edge K9 works closely with business partner Robby Hermans from Robby Farm K9 in Florida, utilizing his tremendous experience as Chief Federal K9 Trainer in Belgium. North Edge K9 prides itself with delivering top-level K9s and standing by their dogs with guarantees that few if any such companies offer. Not surprisingly, the company has delivered numerous K9s to law enforcement agencies nationwide. North Edge K9 draws from European working K9 lines that are superior in drive, conformation and temperament through their overseas partner network of active police and military K9 handlers. [caption id="attachment_2892" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Protection work, with Mike Sawyer (center) and Christian Stickney.[/caption]
North Edge K9's breed of choice is the Belgian Malinois, followed by the German Shepherd.Malinois are considered the most versatile and agile dogs ever bred. They typically win protection sport championships and are the breed of choice for the majority of Western police departments and the U.S. Department of Defense. North Edge K9 imports and trains dogs along two distinct pathways. In the first, the very best puppies are selected at eight weeks of age for sociability, environmental soundness, and drive. One could consider these puppies genetically primed sponges, ready to soak up all the knowledge given to them by their trainers. The process utilizes almost exclusively positive reinforcement techniques and individually tailored foundation work, teaching the dog a specific skill by rewarding the desired behavior. The dogs will understand the more they repeat that behavior the more they will be rewarded. Eventually the reward becomes varied in type and timing, analogous to someone playing a slot machine. You continue to play because there is a chance to win. Months into the program they are learning to search for items, obedience work has begun, and they are gradually introduced to protection training and bite work. At about one year of age they are ready to begin their law enforcement career with their new K9 handler. The second path involves importing "˜green' dogs of several months of age with basic foundation training they have received overseas. North Edge K9 then continues to teach specific skills tailored to the needs of various law enforcement agencies. [caption id="attachment_2893" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Protection work and control, with Tom Chard (left), Robby Hermans (right) and Christian Stickney.[/caption] Much of the training is dedicated to building drives, socializing the dogs with people and other dogs, exposing them to and challenging them in all possible environments, thus ensuring their soundness at their future workplace. These K9s are treated with respect, love, consistency and fairness, and in turn will respect their handlers and be 100% loyal. In North Edge K9's training process, the K9 always wins and failure or fear is not an option. Once delivered, our K9 graduates usually hone their skills with their new handler through a police K9 academy. In Maine this includes 480 hours for patrol work and 380 hours for narcotics detection.
Similarly, personal protection dog training is not simply teaching a dog to bite, but involves numerous tactical aspects of offensive and defensive training.North Edge K9 strives for the best possible match between K9 type, temperament and skill set, and future owner and home environment. North Edge K9 delivers strong, yet highly social dogs that are affectionate, obedient and easy to handle, while being always ready to protect their owners. North Edge K9's trainers are often asked whether it is hard for them to let go of a K9 graduate, as they will have bonded with the dog through hundreds of training hours. The answer is yes, it is hard but great pride and solace is taken knowing the K9s are out there protecting and serving their communities. North Edge K9 typically remains in contact with the new K9 handler and agency, celebrating their successes and being available to troubleshoot any issues should they occur.
Amelia Small Amelia is a dog loving entrepreneur who recently started her very own dog centric magazine for the state of Maine. The magazine is printed quarterly and after each quarter a portion of proceeds are donated back to different dog rescues/shelters around Maine. Amelia is also the Mother to four dog "children" and spends much of her time volunteering for dog shelters and attending numerous dog events around the state!