The Ottawa Airport Authority’s K9 Unit is hosting the Canadian Police Canine Association in a canine behavior shaping course. 

20 canine teams from across Canada are in the capital for the two week training course.

Cst. Rod MacNeil from the Calgary Police K-9 Unit was attending the session with his dog Sabre.

“We train them in several different areas so tracking, criminal apprehension, detention, article evidence searches,” said MacNeil.  

Dogs are being used more and more at borders, in the field and of course at airports. They are on the front line to find drugs or explosives.

“It’s all about safety and security and as I mentioned that’s always been the key area of focus for the airport authority,” said Krista Kealy, VP Communications & Public Affairs for Ottawa’s Airport Authority. “So it’s really important that we keep innovating, and doing everything we can to increase levels of security and really sort of harden the facility even more.”

Ottawa Police Sgt. Paul Smith was there to learn alongside his partner Flynn - a three year old German Shepard/ Malanois Cross.

“We got to talk about a lot of the issues we face across Canada and how we deal with them and how other people deal with them and sort of troubleshoot what has worked for them and what will work for us,” said Sgt. Smith.

Trainers at the course said they were using more positive behaviour shaping, versus using correction alone.  

“It’s a different approach to canine training and it’s, for lack of a better word, more carrot and less stick, so just like people, animals learn better in a positive environment when they are rewarded for correct behaviour,” said Stephen Kaye, K-9 Unit manager at Ottawa Airport.

The Ottawa Airport is one of two in Canada to have its own K9 Unit.