Pacesetter K9, a veteran-owned and operated business, invited me out for a three-day K9 course. The owner, Brad Langham, served in the Navy as a dog handler and is currently in the Navy Reserves. He saw a need for local law enforcement working dogs in the central Texas area to receive military dual-purpose training. The majority of his dogs serve as protection dogs as well as narcotics dogs. Brad even trains dogs to work private protection; they will end up with individual families. Pacesetter K9 strives to maintain the best pedigrees for their dogs by having Brad hand-select the puppies in Europe. Once the puppies are around 18 months old, their lives as working dogs begin.

All of the dogs are housed and trained at one facility. Most dogs sold to law enforcement or military come back through his facility to take various courses throughout their careers. During the course I attended, at least two out of three dogs were originally trained at Pacesetter K9; this allows Brad to tailor the training specifically for those dogs. Watching them train the dogs, you develop a great appreciation for the knowledge the trainers possess and the complexity of the techniques being taught.

I never knew just how hard it was to be the decoy for law enforcement or military working-dog training until I got to wear the padded suit myself. The suit itself weighs about 60 pounds—even more for the bigger and taller suits. Your mobility is limited and you’re hot as hell. However, despite all of these factors, the decoy has one of the most important jobs in training the dogs. It isn’t just wearing a padded suit or being a giant chew toy, the decoy has to play off of the dogs’ personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. Every dog is unique, just as every person is unique, and the decoy has to pick up on those subtle differences. It takes a lot of heart and soul to train these dogs because they are such an important addition to whatever department they end up with.

Check out the video below. It has some pretty awesome drone footage that you rarely get to see with  K9 training.