Brian Gagye served in the United States Marine Corps as a Scout Sniper.

After his time in the Marines, he worked for a sheriff’s department in Michigan until he was injured in the line of duty and later worked for a specialized security company.

Brian has been training dogs for over 20 years and specializes in dog psychology. He has taught his dog psychology and problem solving seminars for police officers and civilians nationwide.

Brian is currently finishing his degree in psychology to become a psychologist. He believes it is not just understanding dogs, it is also understanding how we perceive information. That information is translated into plans of action which could equal success or destruction for K-9 teams.

Brian is the CEO of Blue Warrior Tactics.

Class: Decoy Work


Cheryl F. Nelson grew up in Colorado has been a practicing veterinarian since 1980.  Immediately after graduation from Colorado State University Veterinary School she practiced in in Arizona and Colorado as a resident veterinarian. Since 1983 she has been owner of Nelson Reproductive Services working throughout the US with veterinary licenses in multiple states. She has been a speaker at the Western Veterinary Conference, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the International Embryo Technology Society.  She is a member of Louisville Metro Police Department Hazardous Incident Response Team, Bluegrass Emergency Response Team and Kentucky Technical Large Animal Rescue.   She has been a Hazardous Materials Technician since 2010 and has trained at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, the University of Florida, Purdue University, and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.  She has taught K9 TCCC/TECC and K9 decontamination since 2014.

CLASS: K-9 Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC)

Trauma is a common cause of death in working dogs across all age groups, and includes injuries such as blunt force impact, penetrating wounds, crushing injury or acceleration-deceleration injury. The three leading causes of death for police operational canines are being stuck by a vehicle, heat stroke and penetrating ballistic trauma.

After attending this presentation, attendees will understand the role of the canine handler in providing canine tactical emergency care. This course is designed to present veterinary knowledge and advanced first aid/trauma care techniques to people who may not have a medical background.   Attendees will understand the concept of MARCH (modified as M3ARCH2 for K9 TECC): Move, Massive blood loss control, Muzzle, Airway, Respiration, Circulation, Hypothermia, and Head); and PAWS: Pain, Antibiotics, Wounds, Splinting. Attendees will learn how to assess the health of the working canine, and K9 handling techniques will be discussed. Mission threat analysis and scene safety and medicine in the hot, warm and cold zone will be covered. Triage tips, Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV/Bloat) and hyperthermia will be covered in depth as well as treatment for falls, fractures, burns and anaphylaxis. Bandaging will be covered for sharp and blunt force trauma and ocular injuries. The minimal and advanced canine individual first aid kit will be presented and discussed.  

This presentation will impact the canine handler community by discussing the important differences in human and canine anatomy and physiology, and which emergency medical interventions can be used to save an injured K9s life in the field. Practical applications will include slides and hands-on use of an advanced, animatronic canine medical simulator to demonstrate hemorrhage control, pulse determination, bandaging techniques, anatomy, handling, tension pneumothorax, and more.


Sgt. Ed Van Buren – Douglas County Sheriff (ret)
Supervisor and Trainer of K-9/ Interdiction Unit
Douglas County Nebraska Sheriff’s Department

Ed is the owner of Code 2 K-9 Services LLC in Omaha, Nebraska and president of Blue Warrior Tactics.

Ed spent over 30 years in Law Enforcement, 18 years as a K-9 Deputy and 11 years as a K-9 Supervisor and Trainer. Ed also spent over five years working undercover in a Narcotics Task Force purchasing illegal drugs and guns from outlaw bikers, gang members, white supremacists and many other characters. The undercover work provided Ed with invaluable experience that would enable him to read, understand and communicate with some of the most dangerous criminals that officers encounter.

These experiences would prove beneficial in the K-9/Interdiction Unit where Ed seized over $7 million in drug related currency and almost one ton of marijuana in one stop alone and thousands of pounds altogether.

Class: Conducting the Stop/Utilizing the K-9 / Locating Concealment

  • Safe, legal and professional traffic stops
  • Communication/Interview techniques
  • How to successfully conduct a visual search of a vehicle
  • Detection of hidden compartments

Pat Nolan developed his approach to training over a thirty-year career training retrievers. For the last ten years he has taught remote directional skills to men and dogs in the SOF community.

Class: Training the Remote Detection K9

Training the off-leash detection canine requires a balance that is difficult to achieve and maintain. The canine must take direction but be free to hunt, must be under control at a distance but obedient to odor.

Pat Nolan’s “Push Pull Training in Drive” is a proven approach to training remote directional and detection skills.

Offering real world application of the scientific principles of operant conditioning.

Topics include:

  • How to harness the power of positive and negative reinforcement
  • How to use “Markers” to speed learning, improve communication and reduce conflict
  • A step by step system to training directional skills
  • How to combine directional control without diminishing detection performance

Including Radio and Camera for non-line of sight detection

Mr. Elie Zussman is an Explosives Chemist at Signature Science, LLC, where he instructs site exploitation of suspect rogue homemade explosives (HMEs) production facilities. He is a subject matter expert in the preparation and properties of HMEs to include small scale sensitivity testing and larger scale detonations. He has experience in explosives detection using colorimetric tests and field portable instruments. Mr. Zussman received his Master of Forensic Sciences (MFS) from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Prior to joining Signature Science, Mr. Zussman was a Visiting Scientist at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit where he helped characterize a novel forensic trace air sampler in support of evidentiary gaps within search and rescue canine investigations.

Class: Interactive Explosives Labs Based on Real World Events

Stay up to date with cutting-edge info related to the most recent explosive incidents. With terrorist bombing attacks increasing worldwide at an alarming rate, we believe it’s important for you to understand the current events and their relation to trends in explosives. We invite you to participate in our Interactive Explosives Labs that will introduce you to multiple explosive lab setups based on real events that have rocked our society globally. Our goal is to bring awareness to the social impact we face regarding terrorists and learn what we can do to help prevent, protect and safeguard our nations against the threats of tomorrow. This high-impact presentation, led by Explosives Chemist Mr. Elie Zussman, is sure to engage all your senses. Take the opportunity to walk the terrain and experience these modern explosives labs.

  • Leave with a deeper understanding of how explosives concepts contribute to a terrorist attack
  • Feel more prepared to confidently identify an explosives lab in your area
  • Become more knowledgeable on training aids and techniques that will help ensure the safety of you and your K-9 partner while in the presence of a potential threat

Tobias Gustavsson is a full time trainer and instructor at SWDI (Scandinavian Working Dog Institute) SWDI´s clients are professional dog teams and instructors at agencies and organizations all over the world. That includes police k9 units, special operation forces, government dog teams for large carnivore management, search and rescue dog teams, customs and prison service. In 2011, together with his colleagues, they published the book ”Tracking Dogs – Scents and Skills” The book has now been sold to dog handlers in more than 30 countries.

Tobias is specialized in tracking and scent detection and have an extensive experience in developing skills in dog teams on all levels. Tobias is also a biologist and run a research project on working dogs together with his colleagues at the Swedish University of agricultural sciences.

Class: Hard Surface Tracking Dogs

This class will focus on hard surface tracking as well as other topics that can affect the tracking training.

We start by talking about the knowledge on tracking dogs in literature and science. What methods are commonly used in tracking training and how have they changed through the years? What can a dog accomplish with its sense of smell and what are their limits?

In addition, we will look at the different parts of the tracking training, both theoretically and with the use of film clips. We will go deeper into the basic exercises for creating expectations and intense nose work on hard surface, surface transitions, turns and indication on articles. Training models and progression plans for the different parts are presented as well as solutions to the most commonly faced issues in tracking training. This class will give you the tools to train a reliable and motivated hard surface tracking dog.

Mark Hines is internationally recognized as the KONG Company’s behavior and training specialist. In his role with the KONG Company over the past 15 years, Mark works with veterinarians, behaviorists, breeders, shelters, and a wide variety of trainers. He also provides training and consultation for law enforcement and military K-9 units.

Class: Reducing Handler & K-9 Stress and Conflict

His talk gives practical solutions for numerous canine behavior problems. He references his multiple experience in working with these canine influencer groups and shares valuable insight in understanding your animal.

As an expert in companion animal nutrition and having a strong passion for educating others, Nicci lectures many local and national pet organizations including federal, state and municipal K9 teams, guide and therapy dog teams on proper preventative nutrition and supplementation. She is the pet nutrition resource that many pet owners and professionals turn to when they have exhausted all other options.

Nicci has traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe for the latest information in animal nutrition and wellness. Most recently she visited the University of Helsinki Finland for presentations by the DogRisk Group and world renowned researchers and thought leaders from 8 different countries. She also recently attended the Raw Feeding veterinary Society Meeting in Manchester UK with Dr. Nicholas Thompson.

Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business and nutrition. Additionally, she has worked for large and small pharmaceutical companies on projects that include cancer research, diabetes, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and hepatitis. Since moving her focus from humans to small animals, she has traveled the world for learning experiences and professional certifications in pet nutrition, supplementation and complementary herbal and homeopathic therapies.

Nicci’s interests include metabolic disease and complementary diets for cancer treatment.

  • 2018 Pet Industry Woman of the Year – nominee
  • Raw Feeding Veterinary Society – member
  • Women in the Pet Industry Network – member
  • Holistic Actions! – member

For more information contact or visit

Class: K9 Nutrition: Extending the Career and Improving Quality of Life

Common health and behavioral problems many K9s have are considered “normal” or thought to have complicated or minimal solutions. In this session we’ll review reasons for common challenges and the decrease in life expectancy of dogs and what we can do as handlers to change the downward trend. Case studies presenting common challenges and solutions will provide insight on how to extend the career and quality of life of your K9.

Todd is a former special operations (tier 1) bomb technician and explosive materials expert.  He has identified/disposed of/decommissioned several thousand bombs (IED to nuclear).  He has done additional work with several USG agencies as a subject matter expert, project manager and operations.  Todd is an adjunct professor at New Mexico State University where he lectures and instructs on explosive identification, detonation and disposal. Mr. Wilber is the founder and President of Precision Explosives, LLC.

Class: Understanding Transnational Threats using Homemade Explosives (HME)

An introduction to the past, present and future transnational use of homemade explosives.  The 5w’s.  Exploring explosive compounds and their respective rational of use.  Participants will be exposed and challenged to identify explosive compositions and the rational of use by transnational threats.

Russ is a former special operation professional in the field of psychological warfare.  He has conducted operations in numerous zones of conflict to identify and prosecute individuals engaged in the use improvised explosive devices host countries and the United States..  He has done additional work in support of the U.S Department of State.  Russ is the founder and President of Odor Trace.

Class: Understanding transnational threats using homemade explosives (HME)

An introduction to the past, present and future transnational use of homemade explosives.  The 5w’s.  Exploring explosive compounds and their respective rational of use.  Participants will be exposed and challenged to identify explosive compositions and the rational of use by transnational threats.