Breed all about it: Dogs can play a role in the military

Dogs in the military? We’ve learned that some of ESOHTN’s client bases are even participating in this program.

According to their handlers, these canines are heroes and serve far more than just a job.

Today’s military dogs undergo months of rigorous training and a lot of hard work. First, going through ‘basic training’ at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, which handles the job for all the services, and then to their final installations where they can refine their work. Bases such as Langley and Fort Eustis have military dog training programs with handlers. Obstacle courses designed to simulate a battlefield help prepare the dogs to jump through windows, crawl through tunnels, climb steps of a transporter plane, and even identify human targets.

According to the U.S. military, the Belgian Malinois, Germain shepherd and Dutch shepherd are considered the best breeds for patrol and detection work. Scent training is another critical aspect of the dog’s mission. “As enemy tactics and weapons change, dogs must learn what smells matter on the battlefield…Dog handlers say no one should underestimate such a sophisticated sniffer.”

“The relationship between man and dog in combat is as close as it gets, say dog handlers at Langley and Eustis, most of whom have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.” An Air Force staff sergeant, now working as a military dog handler at Langley, recalled a day during his deployment in Iraq when this was most apparent. A military working dog detected the scent of explosives up ahead, telling him to stay back. “That day, [the dogs] saved my squad from being blown up.”

Information cited from “Dogs in the military: A breed apart,” Orlando Sentinel, 10 April 2012, sec. B9.

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