Tactical K9 Equipment. Why is it important?
And why should I care?
During my time in the Australian Army, both on deployment overseas and on training exercises in Australia, I tested, used and helped develop all kinds of equipment.
Magazine pouches, body armour systems, lights on vehicles, helmets, night vision, weapon systems and many more.
Each item had a specific use and was to be potentially used in life threatening and stressful environments.
So to start this article, I'll ask you one question...
Why do you do what you do? What is the end state? What are you preparing for?
For me back then it was to save my life, protect those who I was sworn to protect and to fight the enemy.
For you it might be a little simpler:
Avoid dangerous situations your dog cannot navigate on their own (roads, other dogs etc)
It can be a matter of safety. Life and death.
So many stories I've heard of dogs breaking free from cheap collars and badly fitted or poor quality harnesses.
So here are some dot points that guide me when I make tactical dog equipment.
Big word. basically this is your bodies spatial awareness. Your ability to know what your body is doing at all times.
Here is an example:
1. Close your eyes
2. Now open them again and finish reading this list
3. Close your eyes and place your left index finger against your nose, then place your right index finger against your left ear.
You should have been able to do this with ease.
That is because your central nervous systems is constantly sending minute signals to your brain in order to remain aware of it's own space.
An example of this is my collars. The buckle is always offset from the v-ring by 180 degrees (give or take adjustments). That way I can find it and remove the collar in the dark with ease.
When I design dog equipment, I ask myself, can I use this kit with my eyes closed? Can I remember where everything is when I am stressed? If the answer is no, you need to practice with your kit, with your eyes closed!
2. Tactile reference points
More fancy words. This basically means I know what each piece of equipment feels like in my fingers or against my body. Everything in it's place, and a place for everything.
A lot of the time we wore gloves in the Special Forces. This was to protect our hands from cuts and scrapes, fire hazards or simply to keep us warm.
I always needed to know what my gear felt like. If I grabbed hold of something in the dark that was the same as something else, in a life threatening scenario I might get the wrong piece of kit and lose valuable time that could save my life or someone else's.
Explosive charges is an example I'll use. I always knew that when I was letting off explosives, I had small pieces of electrical tape or other consumable products, on the important pieces of the charge that I could utilise without taking my eye off the target. Seconds count.
One product of mine that I particularly focused on this was the Dynamic Hard Strop.
To make the strop retract, there is a long and rubberized handle that feels unique to the rest of the strop. To extend the strop there are 2 balled pieces of tied para cord that aren't found on any other product I make.
This means you get an extra signal to the brain that allows you to make the right decision and not pull on the wrong adjustment piece when you are stressed about the dog approaching you in the tight alleyway!
It could be the difference between your dog biting or not biting another dog.
3. Lightweight, low real estate
We carry enough stuff throughout our lives, why make thongs harder?
In my previous career extra weight could be the difference between getting on or NOT getting on a helicopter. It could mean going down with a heat injury or completing the mission.
Your dogs are the same. They don't need to carry anything more than is absolutely necessary.
This causes undue stress on joints, restricts maneuverability and retention of heat.
The example I'll use is the Lightweight Harness we sell. It is light, breathable and gives plenty of room for full joint mobility, especially for activities like tracking or trail running.