Selecting the Right Demanet Bite Suit:
Protection vs Mobility
One of the most frequent questions I get, is, “which bite suit should I order?” The answer to this question varies from decoy to decoy and has more to do with what type of training you will do in the suit, your experience level, and tolerance for discomfort relating to heat and varying levels of padded protection in the suit.
Bite suits offer layers of protection for the decoy. As more layers of protection are added to the bite suit, we start to sacrifice mobility. Heavier suits with more padding are harder for the decoy to move in. My very first bite suit when I was a police K9 handler was a very large, poor fitting suit that had so much padding I couldn’t really feel dogs biting me. Not knowing any better, I didn’t realize how detrimental this suit was to actual bite training, but also severely hampered my ability to move. These issues were magnified when I attended my first decoy school instructed by Franco Angelini. Not long after the decoy school, I petitioned for grant money for a new bite suit, and since then, I’ve always worn custom fitted bite suits with low levels of protection.
Before we discuss which suit is right, we need to establish the differences between the types of protection in bite suits that Demanet offers. The “weight” of the suit refers to the layers of protection or padding in the suit. The competition weight suit offers the lowest level of protection, with the highest level of mobility. This is the suit of choice for many experienced decoys who value their ability to move, and have a suit that is as low profile as possible. The semi competition bite suit is the next level of protection, followed by the semi training, and lastly the training bite suit which offers the highest level of protection. Obviously, as the protective aspects of the suits increase, the mobility decreases. There are a few hybrid suits and special suits discussed later in the article.
Many decoys ask me for a suit that offers the best protection with the most mobility. My answer for that is usually the semi competition bite suit. In my opinion, the semi comp suit is comfortable to work numerous dogs in for several hours, and still maintain a high level of mobility. I am a trial decoy for the sport Protection Sports Association (PSA) which requires a lot of running and powerful drives from its decoys. I would feel comfortable decoying a PSA trial in a semi competition bite suit if I had to. Ideally, for trial purposes, or dynamic scenario work, I would prefer to be in the lightest, fastest suit, though.
The competition weight suit is my favorite suit. Demanet has mastered the construction of a bite suit that offers adequate protection while still being very light, mobile, and built to fit a human body without looking too “puffy” in any area. When working personal protection dogs and police dogs, we obviously want to present training pictures to them that are as close to what they will encounter in real life as possible. Bite suits help with this training, and a competition suit is a low profile, light, fast suit, that fits the bill. If protection is a major concern in the competition weight suit, decoys can always wear gauntlets, or added protection under the suit to increase the level of padding between their body and the mouth of the dog.
Sizing is a common discussion among Demanet bite suit owners. I always recommend following Demanet’s sizing guidelines and if you want your suit to fit a certain way, those adjustments can be altered during production. The number one complaint I hear from American decoys about Demanet sizing, is that there is too much room in the chest and stomach area. Excess room actually increases mobility underneath the suit; it’s also
important to understand the history of Demanet bite suits. Demanet is a ring cut suit, meaning it was originally developed for French Ring. By rule, a French ring decoy must have at least 7cm of suit material for the dog to grip, all over the suit. Therefore, Demanet allows for at least that much room when cutting a suit for a decoy. If you are a decoy (like myself) who prefers the bite suit to fit closer to the body and has no need for excess room in the suit, Demanet offers a “tailored cut” for an additional charge that removes much of the bulk in the stomach, chest, and back area. This is a popular cut for American decoys who want a more tapered bite suit.
The PSA cut suit brings the suit even closer to the body than the tailored cut. The sport of PSA considers bicep and tricep bites desirable, but the dogs may bite anywhere on the suit. In the upper levels of competition, the dog’s primary bite targets are taken away by blocking them with items, and the dog is challenged to take a secondary target such as a leg. While it’s important to PSA decoys to have a suit that is mobile and light, the great majority of bites occur in the bicep. In 2019, I had the privilege to help develop the PSA cut suit with Demanet. I reached out to over 100 PSA trial decoys to get feedback on the ideal bite suit for PSA trials. The consensus was that any padding in the chest, stomach, and back was generally unnecessary and added bulk. Trial decoys also wanted the lowest profile possible, so the size of the chest, stomach and back was reduced even further than the tailored cut. The last addition was moving the arm seam to the top side. The reason for this, is that suits that sustain a lot wear in the bicep and tricep, and often start to deteriorate on the arm seam. Canine saliva, bite pressure, and wear and tear on these areas shorten the life of the suit. By moving the seam to the top of the sleeve, the life of the suit is prolonged.
The “transformer” or two piece suit is an option for any type of bite suit. It is essentially a bite suit vest with independent arms that are not sewn into the vest. The advantages of having a bite suit jacket like this are that the decoy has even more mobility, particularly in the arms and shoulders. The arms can be replaced as the suit wears, instead of buying a new jacket. For bite development of young dogs, the decoy can use the arms like Belgian sleeves, and then add the vest for a full suit picture. The most common concern I hear with the the transformer jacket is that the dog could potentially bite in the area where the vest meets the ams in the armpits. Demanet uses a fairly large over-sew of the arms in that area and the decoy is perfectly safe. I personally own a PSA cut competition transformer suit and it is my favorite suit for working trials. The fit is perfect, and the suit will last me for years, as I’ll only need to replace the arms.
The Kevlar hidden suit is a tool that anyone who trains police or personal protection dogs should consider. It is constructed with a layer of kevlar to keep the decoy safe from punctures, but is a very thin suit so that it can be concealed with clothing over the top. It’s a great training picture for dogs to see. While the kevlar hidden suit is a tool I recommend, it is also a more expensive suit and not a suit you can use every day as it wears fairly quickly.
The Demanet Kimono suit is a good option for police departments or units that will share a bite suit amongst numerous decoys. I would not consider it a custom suit, because the only measurements required are height and weight. The suit is cut with enough room in the arms and legs so any decoy close to the height and weight specified will fit the suit. The Kimono suit is available in competition weight, semi competition, semi training, and training weights. The Kimono bite suit is still a quality bite suit because of the Demanet brand.
Demanet can customize a suit however you want by adding reinforced padding in certain areas, or sewing cuffs into the arms to prolong the life of the suit. Demanet can also mix and match suits to come up with the perfect combination for your needs. For example, my go-to bite suit when I know I’m working a lot of different dogs is a semi competition jacket with competition pants. I don’t take a lot of leg bites with the dogs I work, so I appreciate the mobility of competition pants, with the added protection of a semi competition jacket.
Demanet makes not only the best bite suit in my opinion, but is also highly customizable, with superior customer service. I’m very proud to have not only a business relationship with Demanet, but a personal relationship with them. As always, any questions about Demanet bite suits can be directed toward me and I’m happy to represent them.