8 investments worth every penny for K-9 officers By:


As the K-9 coordinator for my agency, I have purchased thousands of dollars of equipment for the K-9 teams I supervise. As with all law enforcement agencies, our budgets are usually limited.

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Many K-9 units across the country (including my own) are primarily funded by donations. After continuous in-service training, food costs, endless veterinary bills and much more, my budget is depleted.

In many law enforcement specialty units, inadequate budgets leave the individual unit members responsible for buying the proper tools to help make their unit successful. In light of this reality, I sat down with my team to come up with eight essential pieces of equipment for a K-9 handler.

1. Good-quality pair of gloves

When it comes to line control during detection deployments, tracking and longline searching, you are going to want a good-quality pair of gloves to protect your hands from rub burns and blistering. Minimizing injury and discomfort will enable you and your partner to perform for longer periods.

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Titan K-9 Gloves

  • Level 5 cut-resistant
  • Heavy duty material on the palms and fingers
  • Optimal dexterity, impact protection and breathable

Click for best price

2. Ice chest

There have been many occasions in my career as a law enforcement officer where I was stuck on a barricade or in the middle of nowhere with limited water and no food. This is a frequent occurrence for a K-9 handler. Purchasing a decent-sized, heavy-duty ice chest or cooler to keep extra water and snacks in for extended or hot weather deployments is a must. For snacks, I recommend granola bars and beef jerky.

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Igloo BMX Hard Cooler – 52 QT

  • Heavy-duty blow-molded construction provides advanced durability
  • Extra-thick foam walls and insulated lid provide five days of ice retention
  • Durable, rubberized lid T-latches provide a secure closure and lock in the cold
  • Triple-point grab handle features stainless steel reinforcement and rubber grip
  • Threaded drain plug gives you the option to hook up to your water hose for easy draining

Click for best price on Amazon

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Jack Link’s Beef Jerky 15-Piece Assorted Gift Pack

  • Made with 100% beef and easy to chew
  • Meat snacks require no refrigeration
  • Buy in bulk for a great way to get protein

Click for best price on Amazon

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CLIF BAR – Chocolate Chip – Full Size and Mini Energy Bars

  • Includes a mix of 10 regular size CLIF BAR and 10 CLIF BAR minis
  • Non-GMO and are made with whole food, plant-based ingredients
  • Crafted with a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates

Click for best price on Amazon

Inevitably, as a K-9 handler, you will be called on to conduct an open area search or track in the middle of the night. Having a good headlamp will come in handy as you are going to need a light and your hands need to remain free to work your partner.

I recommend spending the money to purchase an extra weapon light and mount it to a ballistic helmet. Make sure you have other light sources as well, so when your battery dies on your primary light source you can continue on.

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Fenix HM70R Headlamp

  • Primary white LED with a 1600 lumen max that can reach over 203 yards and comes with an auxiliary red LED and high CRI neutral LED
  • Direct USB-C 2A fast rechargeable, supporting extra long run time of 100 hours on low
  • Impact resistance of 2 meters, IP68 waterproof and can withstand temperatures from -31° F to 113° F
  • Comes with a reflective strap with a built-in silicone strip for grip

Click for best price on Amazon

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Streamlight 14307 Sidewinder Stalk 76-Lumen Tactical Helmet Light with Flexible Stalk

  • Flexible stalk to aim the beam
  • Rotary mode selector switch
  • IR/IFF beacon
  • Push button switch for on/off intensity control

Click for best price on Amazon


4. Tactical dump pouch

K-9 handlers, as with all law enforcement officers, carry a lot of stuff. Having a tactical rollup dump pouch attached to your Sam Browne belt is essential. The pouch can be used to hold all those accessory items for deployments and training days, including extra leashes, water, flashlights, dog booties, toys and treats (for you and your partner).

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Molle Dump Pouch

  • Made of durable 500D Cordura Nylon and superior elastic rubber with water-resistant coating
  • One adjustable main drawstring opens top molle utility dump pouch pocket and one front magic sticker pocket
  • Rolled up dump pouch is designed to rolled up and stay out of the way until you need to use it

Click for best price on Amazon


5. Reward toys

Find the right toy or toys that create a high work drive in your K-9 partner to be used as a reward when they do good work. Some K9s only need one toy while others need a different toy for different performance drives, such as patrol work, detection and tracking. Once you find the toys that create the right kind of drive in your partner, buy as many of them as you can afford, as your partner will tear them up on a regular basis.


Horsemen’s Pride 10″ Jolly Ball Horse Toy


Jolly Pets Dog 6-Inch Tug-n-Toss


KONG Classic Large


KONG – Tug – Durable Stretchy Rubber


Fire Hose Dog Tug with Strong Handle



Favorite dog toys of police K-9s

K-9 handlers participating in the recent 32nd Annual LVMPD K-9 Trials in Las Vegas took some time out backstage to share their pups’ favorite toys

Read more

6. First Aid kit for you and your partner

Minor injuries for you and your partner are part of the gig when it comes to working on K-9 deployments. Have a small first aid kit that can fit in your cargo pocket or dump pouch. Your first aid kit should include a plethora of Band-Aids, QuikClot bleeding control dressing, a tourniquet, a pair of tweezers to remove splinters and a soft muzzle or triangular bandage.

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IFAK for First Aid Response

Some of the products included (plus more):

  • Tactical Nylon Molle IFAK Bag
  • Combat Application Tourniquet GEN-7
  • Pressure dressing, compressed gauze and chest seals
  • Universal bandage pack

Click for best price on Amazon

7. Tecnu original outdoor skin cleanser

Much like being stuck in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, it is inevitable that your partner will track a suspect right through some poison oak or poison ivy. When that happens, it is crucial to decontaminate yourself and your equipment as soon as you possibly can. Tecnu does the trick. Then go back to the station to take a shower and wash your partner too.

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Tecnu Original Poison Oak & Ivy Outdoor Skin Cleanser

  • Completely removes the rash and itch-causing oil from your skin
  • Can also be used to remove urushiol, tree sap and skunk spray from clothes, tools, gear and pets
  • Apply Tecnu to the affected skin, rub vigorously for two minutes, rinse with water and pat to dry

Click for best price on Amazon

8. Boots with ankle support

As a K-9 handler, conducting an extended open area search or track you need a good pair of comfortable boots. You are also going to want to ensure these boots have proper ankle support to prevent injury on unforgiving ground and muddy terrain. Depending on where you live, you might want your boots to be waterproof too. In Southern California, we don’t get much rain, so this isn’t as big of a concern for our K-9 handlers.

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HAIX Black Eagle Tactical Boots

  • Two-zone lacing system with adjustable fit and ankle protectors
  • Waterproof CROSSTECH liner
  • Anti-slip, shock-absorbing sole with resistance to fuel, oil and heat
  • Insulated soles for comfort in cold or hot weather

Click for best price on Amazon

Police1 reader suggestions

  • A bottle or two of hydrogen peroxide 3-percent solution for those times when your partner swallows something that needs to come back out quick. It will make the K-9 vomit so be ready for that!
  • Cooling pads/vest for K-9s.
  • A good K-9 tactical harness, with the capability to cool the dog.
  • Ballistic and stab-proof vests and Narcan kits for K-9 officers are a must. If departments don’t provide handlers with these, they can apply for donated vests and kits through https://www.vik9s.org/.
  • GOOD training is worth more than its weight in gold. Seek out and find good training so that you can advance your team!

NEXT: Check out our curated list of 10 essential pieces of tactical gear for K-9s:

k-9 k9 dog

This article, originally posted on May 3, 2021, has been updated.