Whether you work for the military, law enforcement, or Federal K9 department, providing your canine with high-quality tactical gear is a must. Like officers, police and military dogs require special training and proper equipment to do their job well alongside their human counterparts.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the essential tactical gear every K9 and military dog handler needs to ensure their dog is well-equipped to excel in what they’re trained to do.
The collar is one of the basic yet very important gear you need to acquire if you want to control and manage your military dog with ease. Unlike regular collars, tactical collars are designed to be more durable and provide extra protection in extreme environments.
But first, here are a few things you need to consider:
- The environment you and your military dog will be working in
- The dog’s mission (e.g., the most common tasks it’ll have to complete)
- Your dog’s size and activity level
These things are crucial when it comes to choosing the best collar for your military dog. For example, if the dog will mostly operate in wet conditions, you should go for a synthetic collar material rather than leather. And if your dog often works in inland or arid areas, you can opt for a leather collar.
Here are some of the high-quality options to choose from:
- Nylon Agitation Collar With Cobra Buckle & Handle - Made with Mil-Spec nylon, this collar is rigid & durable. It includes a soft loop to eliminate rattle from metal on metal and terminates into a Mil-Spec cobra buckle for added security. For extra control, you can extend a rolled nylon handle.
- Tactical E-Collar Mount - Using this system, comprised of Trelleborg™ backing material and Mil-Spec elastic nylon, getting your e-collars on and off in a hurry is child’s play. And it’s ergonomically designed to allow you to charge your receiver without ever having to take it off the mount.
- Tactical Lanyard Ejector - Placed on the handler’s non-firing or heeling side, it allows for efficient, positive ejection under load, thus allowing the K9 to pursue its target. The 18” retractable bungee reduces the risk of tangle or snag hazards yet keeps the ejection point well away from the K9’s head. The integrated control handle on Mil-Spec tubular nylon allows for control of the K9, even with a gloved hand.
A high-quality, sturdy lead is another essential part of your dog’s gear you need to purchase to make sure your canine companion is ready for its mission no matter what. Depending on the tasks and the environment, you might need a few different leashes for your military dog.
Here’s what you need to consider:
- The weather conditions your dog will be required to be
- How much running you’re going to do with your K9 dog
- How big and strong your military dog is
Since military K9 dogs are able to pull with great force, a well-constructed collar and leash will help you minimize the shock from unexpected thrusts and keep better control of your dog at the same time.
Here are some of the durable and sturdy leads we recommend:
- Tracking Long Line - This 20’ and 30′ tracking leash is made from Mil-Spec tubular nylon for maximum strength and durability. The terminating end comprises a contrast nylon handle that includes a segment of rope providing both a visual and tactile warning that you’re reaching the end of your line.
- Bungee Swivel Leash With Frog - This 3’ tactical bungee leash is perfect for keeping your K9 close to your side while eliminating tangles and twists in the most chaotic of scenarios. It features an Italian-engineered Kong Frog™ Quick Connector to connect or deploy from a D-ring quickly and efficiently.
- Leather Braided Agitation Leash - A staple of every handler to lead their K9. Made from domestic hides, these handcrafted leather leashes are split and braided for a durable and attractive finish. Available in 36" and 60" lengths with solid brass swivel snap hooks. The width is 3/4".
Vest and Harness
Unlike a family pet, a military dog requires a harness or a vest. Again, which one you’re going to choose for your dog will depend on its mission.
Here are some of the questions you need to answer before choosing a proper harness or vest:
- Will your K9 need to be in water or float for a while?
- Will your dog need to carry anything?
- Is there a chance you might need to recover your military dog from sub-terrain structures?
- In what climate will you be completing your mission?
- Will you be lifting or rappelling?
Once you know the answers to these main questions, you can start choosing a tactical vest or harness for your dog’s next mission. Note that different climates and assignments might require different gear.
Here are some of our top picks:
- K9 Tactical Vest “Operator” - This vest comprises of the most advanced construction, hardware, and materials available on the market today for your K9 operation. The Mil-Spec body material is made of flame retardant Cordura, with 4-way stretch Spandura and hex-mesh to provide the ultimate in cooling and flexibility.
- Sentinel Tracking/Trailing Harness - Streamlined for efficient movement, this harness features a removable padded chest plate and ergonomic neck strap for the strongest pullers. A sturdy Mil-Spec v-ring and tactical handle provide reliable control and protection for your K9.
- Recon Ballistic K9 Carrier - This ballistic K9 carrier does away with the large, oversized, heavy "blanket" idea that most handlers associate with K9 ballistics. It’s a sleek, ergonomically contoured carrier that allows a working dog to focus on the task at hand vs. getting worn out from the weight & heat of other vests.
Military and K9 dogs aren't trained to be friendly. Their mission is to detect, protect, and attack. It means that safety is crucial for both you and your canine. A well-fitted muzzle can prevent unwanted attacks as well as eliminate dog’s mouth damage upon landing when strapped to their parachute partner.
Before choosing a new muzzle for your military dog, make sure you have such measurements:
- Nose to eye
- Nose to neck between ears
- Around the neck
- Nose to neck side of the head
- Around muzzle with mouth closed
Here are a few of our favorite options you might want to consider:
- Ventana Agitation Muzzle With Bite Bar - This muzzle is as light and breathable as possible. It features integrating reinforced mesh sides, an open nose vent, and a deep tongue drop. Security and speed are the name of the game with this muzzle, which includes a click-lock, quick-release buckle with a thumb cover to prevent accidental release.
- Bridging Half Muzzle - This muzzle is the ideal tool to help transition a dog into agitation muzzle work while also developing a fuller and more complete bite. By limiting the depth at which a dog can engage, it builds drive to push harder and with more tenacity in order to grasp the target.
- Blitz Breakaway Muzzle - Originally designed for USASOC, this Recon K9 exclusive has a unique breakaway tongue at the bottom of the jaw to allow quick separation for quick removal. This muzzle is less of an agitation muzzle and more for those times when you need to prevent accidental "friendly fire" from your dog’s teeth.
Takeaway: Things to Consider
When choosing the right tactical gear for your military dog, pay attention to the size, fit, material, durability, and additional features or accessories they might require to complete specific missions.
High-quality gear will protect your dog and provide it with optimal comfort to execute commands and maintain high-performance levels whenever you need them the most. Durable collar, leash, harness, vest, and muzzle will also help you train and control your dog more efficiently.
At Recon K9, we tailor our products to the various branches of our military and private contractors and the Department of Defense. They’re built to meet and exceed the most stringent demands of the military working dogs, regardless of the conditions they find themselves in.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or require custom solutions. Rapid prototyping, in-field testing, and R&D is our specialty. It's your path, and we'll help get you there.