Dog training

Military training of working dogs strengthens the bond between soldier and dog | Local News


The 549th Military Working Dog Detachment is hosting a certification session for new dogs and handlers this week at Fort Wainwright. The four-day training covers a variety of skills including obedience, bite work, patrolling, and drug and explosives detection.

Kennelmaster Detachment Sgt. Elisabeth Wienke explained that the handler and dog teams are certified every year, and once certified, the teams are validated every month. Five pairs of dogs and handlers passed the certification this week, almost all for the first time. The Wainwright Kennel has 11 dogs, which are used for force protection and law enforcement, including support to operations overseas.

On the first day, Monday, the dogs practiced obedience and controlled aggression, or biting work. The dogs walk through a course that includes hedges and underground tunnels. Controlled aggression is supposed to mimic a real-life scenario of an encounter where dogs are invited to attack after the target flees.

According to Wienke, Soldiers are assessed on patrol and scouting tasks to see “the maturity and reliability of the teams” and how dogs and humans work together. To be successful in certification, the soldier must be patient and work well with the dog, and the dog must be focused, following orders and “finding whatever is asked of it,” Weinke said.

A good working dog should have both drive and a desire to please, according to Wienke.

“A lot of these dogs, you would be surprised how much and how much they are ready to work for the soldier,” she added. It is a combination of nature and education; dogs should have this inherent willingness to obey, but it can also be refined through training.

Communication and bonding between dog and handler are also important, as the two must be willing to work for each other. “It’s a team effort,” Weinke explained.

Jonathan Sharkey is a manager of K9. He and his dog are already certified, but he was attending training on Monday.

Sharkey explained that her dog, although new to the program, “is really very motivated” which has helped them pass the certification. “Her dog’s obedience to me is above anything else in the world,” Sharkey said, adding that this is what makes them effective in work scenarios.

On the handler side, to be successful, “you have to maintain a motivation and a love for the job,” said Sharkey. But the handler must also remain focused.

“It’s obviously great fun to play with dogs,” he said, but the handler should also remember that the dog is not a pet. “It’s a tool, so you have to maintain that limit. “

This is because the dog is always working, and since the dog is constantly paying attention, the handler needs to be careful of the dog.


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