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Gear of the Dog

Gear of the Dog

They're powerful, intelligent, and have a prey drive equal to a Velociraptor. The Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds have long been regarded as ideal working dogs for tactical units and SOF (Special Operations Forces) elements. Naturally these breeds have become trendy with civilians.

To start, I’ll say this, and likely so will everyone else with a working dog: Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds make wonderful working dogs, but do not make good house pets. If you want a cuddly companion to lounge at your feet, go get yourself a Labrador.

These dogs, much like crocodiles, alligators, and missiles, tend to destroy everything they come in contact with. If you decide to buy a Malinois or Shepherd as a pet, and you’re on your own dime trying to find some cool products, here are some that have taken some working dog punishment and worked well.

Kit Up Your K9 With Some of the Latest Gear

Muzzles are incredibly important, as these dogs have the potential to be a giant liability. As a wise man once told me, “German Shepherds are taught to bite, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds like to bite.” The tiniest nip to us (the handler) could be perceived by a civilian as a vicious attack or problem situation on the street.

I’m not saying to muzzle your dog all the time, but there’s definitely a time and place for it. Check out the Combat K-9 Speed Muzzle; it’s great for traveling and super comfortable for the dog. For a stiffer, more artistic muzzle, Alesha from Working Dog Dry Goods gets arts and crafts award of the year for her paintjob on their leather muzzles, starting at 150 bucks.


Harnesses are important for identifying your canine as a service animal, working dog, or just to look cool. They’ll generally run you anywhere form 60 to 600 bucks. The two harnesses I tested were the LBT Canine Assault Vest, which is super cool, looks badass, very comfortable for the dog, but will generally not fit a dog smaller than 60 pounds. If you have a smaller weight dog, Combat K9’s Cobra Harness is lightweight, minimal, but has enough Velcro to properly identify your canine.

When it comes to reward/chew toys, I care about two things: dental hygiene and extreme durability. The two products that I tend to use are the Kong Dental Chew and the Elite K9 Working Tug.

A must for all dog owners who have a car is the Elite K9 Spill Proof Buddy Bowl, it allows you to keep water in your car at all times without ever spilling (the best 16 bucks you’ll ever spend).

Obedience training is critical for any Malinois or Shepherd. I’ve spent the better part of the last year working with different canine trainers around the country, some better than others, some who were straight-up incompetent. I’ve learned this: it comes down to finding a trainer with a credible background and similar training ethos. Some believe in no reward training, other than praise, others believe in food motivation. Training a dog is like training a shooter or cutting an onion, there’s a million ways to do it.

workingdogmuzzle uspalmk9

Here are a couple schools that I found to be easy to work with and very knowledgeable:

Patriot Dog Training

San Antonio, TX

Dyas K-9

Las Vegas, NV

Devine K-9

San Diego, CA

A-GAME Canine

Albany, NY

I might be a little bit biased, but I do believe they’re the best dogs in the world. If you don’t have the time and energy to devote to training them, it could mean having a hurricane in your house, but given the work and the proper training, you could have the greatest companion.

If you want your dog to look sleek in a sturdy, secure harness without breaking the bank, check out Advanced Dynamic’s EDO K9 Tactical Harness. It’s not load bearing and uses plastic buckles, but at 98 bucks, this is one good-looking harness, comfortable and breathable. Fun feature: two slots to insert cooling pads for hot weather.

US Palm makes a tough Quarter Vest that’s lightweight with enough Velcro real estate for plenty of identification space. It’s 95 bucks for a size large.

RE Factor Tactical’s Pig Sticker dog toy is a super cute gift for your pup. Unfortunately, in the jaws of a Malinois, it’ll only last a matter of seconds before it becomes pieces of fluff, but it’s cheap enough that nobody’s going to miss it when it’s gone and everyone will get a kick out of it.

From city walks to desert tracking, check out RE Factor Tactical’s Tactical Configurable Dog Leash. Its best feature is its variability. Adjustable leash length, use as a collar in a pinch, variety of color and buckle options, all make this leash a must. It’ll run you anywhere from $34 to $55, depending on your configuration.


You can find other great leash supplies from US Palm’s Cynology War Lab. Braided rope of varying sizes from 12 inches to 6 feet and colors from hot pink to tactical tan with a Kong Frog to attach to the collar, it’ll run you a cool 55 bucks.

Nightly dog walks just got a lot less stressful with products that can be truly lifesaving. Nite IZE makes the Nite Dawg LED collar and leash. Choose multiple high-visibility modes (glow or flashing red) to keep an eye on your pup in the dark. At 20 bucks, it’s worth the peace of mind.

RE Factor Tactical makes the Reflective Paracord Dog Collar with over 15 feet of parachute cord wrapped around a reflective strip. Handy if you find yourself up the creek without a paddle, with only your best friend by your side. Go get one for only 35 bucks.

A must-have to consider from Adventure Medical Kits is the one of the Adventure Dog Series kits. You’ve got multiple options depending on whether you need a basic kit, hiking on a rural trail, or a larger size for human and/or K9. Retails anywhere from 10 to 50 bucks.



Jake Swanson (a pseudonym) is a law enforcement officer with extensive canine handling experience.

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