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Medical Handling Station – instructor draft notes

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Instructor to Student Ideal Ratio:  6:1

Time Required: 20min (varies based on previous learning)

Station Objectives

Medical Handling: 

  • Recall and explain the primary safety elements of approach and proximity to Working K9s
  • Recite and effectively demonstrate the application of the Principles of Medical Restraint 


  • K9s:
    • This station includes live demo dog K9s which may be new to the program.  Follow all safe handling guidelines (taught in this module).  If you are unsure of any issue related to the K9, connect with the designated “K9 Safety” and/or “Lead Instructor”  contact for the day.
  • Weapons:
    • This station has no tactical simulation element (no sims, no blueguns, no bad guys, no threat responses).  Therefore, we do not require officers to download (put away in a safe location) their weapons. Regardless, always remain aware of the potential risk of weapons.
  • PPE (Personal Protection Equipment):
    • N/A  (*During COVID ensure students are able to clean hands after contact with K9s and follow all then-current COVID requriements)

Station Prep:

  • Demo Dog and Handler
    • Medical muzzle that fits demo dog
    • Dog rewards as applicable
    • Peanut butter pouches as applicable
  • Station Equipment
    • Improvised Muzzle
  • Enough space for students to gather safely and comfortable around dog(s)
    without crowding other groups.   (chairs, sitting or standing on floor as applicable)


  1. Demo Dog and Handler Introductions (2 min)
    1. K9 Name, job, age
    2. Any injuries, known sensitive areas, behavioral notes
    3. Importance of deferring to Handler
  1. Discussion:  Review of Initial approach basics (3 min)
  1. Summary:  the dog is aware of and comfortable with our presence before contact
  2. Note any responses from the Demo Dog as students gather and demo approach examples
  3. Muzzles:
  1. “Muzzle Safe?  Muzzle Check.” (2 min)
    1. Safe?  Have students name a situation that would be UNSAFE for muzzle:
      Airway hazard, panting, vomit, choya/porcupine, facial wound, especially HEAT!!!
    2. Check.
      Remind students that they need to physically check the muzzle to make sure it’s secure enough
      …and you can tell them if they skip this in scenario, the dog will definitely bite them, no training scars!
  1. Medical Muzzles:  (3 min)
    Review properties of medical Muzzle:

Volume:  large enough shape that dog can open mouth and tongue out

Air flow:  large enough gaps that can optimize airflow (though be careful about fingers)

Allows for:  panting, drinking, visual inspection, food if appropriate


  • Short side over the nose, long side under the jaw
  • Variety of fasteners (buckles, clips)
  • Ideally preconditioned to calm and pair with a command
    If so then, front approach is fine (some federal teams train that method)
    Otherwise, fast side sneak approach is usually best
  • Always finish with Muzzle Check.  and readjust as needed
  • Have students practice with their stuffies and handler with demo dog.
  1. Improvised Muzzles: (5min) 
    Review the basic rules with a K9-Blondie:
    1. “Over the Nose”
    2. “Safe snout coverage”
    3. “Cross Under the Chin”
    4. “Behind the Ears”

Options include lasso (as long as students then cross under the chin).

Important that there is enough coverage (usually several wraps) along length of snout.

Have Handler try it then offer them a toy or food to see how wide they can open their mouth.
It should be secure enough that they could not take a full “bite”.

Have students practice on the stuffies.

  1. Principles of Constraint
    1. As a group as them to all verbally repeat the x3 Principles of Constraint
      1. “Close the Gap”  (like a security blanket)
      2. “Control the Head”
      3. “Hands on Hard Parts”
    2. Standing Restraint (5min):  use stuffies (no demo dog yet) to demonstrate x3 principles of contraint
      1. Close the Gap:  make sure there are no places you can put your hand between them and the dog (watch elbows and chest areas especially)
      2. Control the Head: have them show you multiple ways to control the head with more or less force
      3. Hands on Hard Parts: note that they are already using hands on hard parts to achieve #1 and #2
      4. Lifts:  a typical standing hold (human arms across dog chest and behind/under dog butt) is a good start for a lift, so have students go from standing restraint to lift, making sure
        1. Don’t crisscross the front/rear legs because it arches the dog’s back too much
        2. No pressure on the belly (cause undetected masses to bleed out)
      5. Now have the handler demo the same three principles for standing restraint
        If the dog is wiggly…
        Watch for the dog to relax and stay still once secure
        If they get still have the handler “erroneously” create a small “gap” (for example in the elbow crook, or between the human should and K9 head).  Often the dog will start to get more wiggly as soon as this is done.  They feel the inch and try to take a mile 🙂
    3. Sitting restraint (5min):
      1. Discuss value of sitting restraint
        1. Useful for Ivs
          1. Highlight that the handler will need to know the restraint for the medic and the  medic may need to teach this to a handler on the fly
          2. IV admin crucial for heat, GDV and sometimes trauma, so having this skill is essential
          3. Forelimb (cephalic) is the most useful (later we will demo rear leg, but only the forelimb can be used for GDV)
      2. Demo this skill with sitting stuffie using the 3 principles of constraint
        1. Close the gap – full body
        2. Control the head
        3. Hands (and sometimes Knees) on hard parts
        4. Have students practice with stuffies
        5. Demo with Demo Dog
    4. Lateral restraint (5min)
      1. Discuss value of lateral restraint
      2. Demo this skill with stuffies using the 3 principles of constraints
      3. Have students practice with stuffies
      4. Demo with Demo Dog


Prompting Level:

  • In this station, we are introducing and building skills, therefore, intervene and interact fully.