New Breed Of Protection Dogs Blur Lines

FTI K9 Breeds And Trains Elite German Shepherds For Protection And Companionship

STORY BY DANIELLE BRETEAU * PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF FTI K9

Raul Hernandez, a former K9 sergeant with a major US law enforcement agency, is the lead trainer for FTI K9.

Raul Hernandez, a former K9 sergeant with a major US law enforcement agency, is the lead trainer for FTI K9.

Working dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but it is often the image of a German shepherd or Belgium Malanois that comes to mind when we think of K9s in law enforcement or military applications. Many dogs benefit from having jobs, and certainly these breeds are at the top of the list, but they also readily bridge the gap between a home invasion and an invasion by a 3-year-old when properly trained and socialized.

FTI K9, a division of the Force Training Institute located in north-central Florida, is redefining personal-protection dogs by selecting European-born German shepherds – carefully chosen from a network of the finest kennels in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Austria – from elite bloodlines and tailoring their training. They use modern, reality-based methods backed by positive reinforcement, and specifically target shepherds with high intelligence and courage. What is also important to FTI is that the dogs must demonstrate an admirable temperament and dependability. These key traits can be the perfect base for a companion that is truly the family’s best friend and eager protector.

FTI only selects shepherds from the finest bloodlines and looks for qualities such as intelligence, courage and dependability.

FTI only selects shepherds from the finest bloodlines and looks for qualities such as intelligence, courage and dependability.

RAUL HERNANDEZ, a former K9 sergeant with a major US law enforcement agency, is the lead trainer for FTI K9. Hernandez is certified with Delta Society Pet Partners program and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He is also an instructor in law enforcement high-liability training, including defensive tactics. With over 30 years of experience working with canines, he has a worldwide reputation as one of the top importers, breeders and trainers of quality European German shepherds.

Some dogs are inspired by food, others by a ball or toy. Working with a dog’s preference will make it a more eager participant.

Some dogs are inspired by food, others by a ball or toy. Working with a dog’s preference will make it a more eager participant.

All of FTI’s dogs are hand-selected in Europe from Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Austria.

All of FTI’s dogs are hand-selected in Europe from Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Austria.

THE 32-ACRE FACILITY runs these dogs through all sorts of scenario training that mimics real life events. They are put through rigorous exercises that include agility, family protection, law enforcement and military applications, sport and obedience. They also use bustling Florida cities like Ocala, Gainesville and Orlando, which are often filled with tourists and high-energy activity, to acclimate them even further. Hernandez says that the physical aspect of a working dog is very important, but equally important, if not more so, is that their dogs must be loyal and trustworthy to the core for the families they will join and protect.

Hernandez says that positive reinforcement is key during training, and they ensure all of the dogs have fun and enjoy working with their handlers. They praise the dogs with food or a ball, depending on the dog’s motivational preference, and ensure they’re well socialized with people and taught manners so that they can seamlessly work in homes, offices, warehouses – even yachts.

The 32-acre FTI training facility runs these dogs through scenarios that mimic real-life events.

The 32-acre FTI training facility runs these dogs through scenarios that mimic real-life events.

Whether you are taking on a birthday party with a dozen and a half 6-year-olds or securing the perimeter of a nuclear power plant, the trainers and K9s at FTI have a lot to share. ASJ

Some of the most elite K9’s graduate from the Force Training Institute in Florida.

Some of the most elite K9’s graduate from the Force Training Institute in Florida.

Editor’s note: For more info on FTI K9, you can visit them at ftik9.com.

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July 19th, 2016 by