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Sri 04-08-2014 06:40 AM

Question about military dogs
Yesterday while I was walking my dog in the park, I met a man who seemed very familiar with GSDs and working dogs. While chatting with him, he said he used to train dogs for the Army. I didnt linger too long to ask more questions,
but remembered again this person last night which got me thinking. (partly because I've seen him a few times and he offered to give me a few tips next time).

I thought the Army trained their own dogs? Just curious if its the handlers that train their dogs or if they get a trained dog and train with it/learn how to handle it?

And as an aside how difficult is it if someone else trains your dog and you then learn to work with it? IS it possible to get the same respect and relationship with your dog as the person who trained it must have?

David Winners 04-08-2014 06:56 AM

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The Army trains most of their own dogs. Some programs, like the SF and TEDD programs are civilian trained for the most part.

Green dogs are trained the basics of detection and bite work by experienced trainers and then placed with a handler where they continue to train and learn as a team. As a handler, you may get a green dog, or a dog that has had previous handlers. In theory, all the dogs are trained the same and can easily switch between handlers. The handlers are far harder to train than the dogs. Less than 40% of my class actually certified with a dog.

It is important for personalities to match up between handler and dog, especially with new handlers. When pairing dogs and handlers, trainers try and make as good a match as they can, depending on how many dogs they have available.

It is possible for a dog to form a great bond with a new handler. Fama was 4 when I got her, and I was her 5th handler. I am the first one she spent more then a few months with, as she very much enjoyed punking out new handlers and sending them to the emergency room for stitches. We formed as tight a bond as I can imagine over the course of several months.

I hope this helps clear some things up.

Sri 04-08-2014 07:19 AM

Yes it clears things up, thank you.

How does one get the relationship with a dog that has been trained by someone else? For example, a board and train. It is not just doing obedience, right? I am guessing it involves also doing a lot of fun activities that the dog enjoys.

martemchik 04-08-2014 08:12 AM

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Like David just have to make sure that the handlers train/handle in the same way.

If you've ever seen a very experienced trainer grab hold of a leash and make a dog do whatever he wants, its because they know what they're doing and understand how to handle dogs. So if all the handlers are trained in the same way, the dog can go from handler to handler.

The difference with a board and train is that very rarely do they teach the owner of the dog how to handle the dog. There might be a class or two at the end or something to teach them some of the things, but at the end of the day the handler is usually inept. If the owner/handler was good, they probably wouldn't be going to a board and train (theoretically). So you can teach a dog a lot of things, but if the handler doesn't know how to get those out of the dog, or properly correct when the dog doesn't do them, the training is worthless.

David Winners 04-08-2014 08:44 AM

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A new MP handler goes through 14 weeks, 560 hours minimum, of training before they get a dog of their own. They work experienced dogs with experienced trainers. After they get a dog of their own, their training is continued under close supervision of their Kennel Master and Training NCO.

Books could be written on how to bond with a dog. It's certainly not all about fun and games, but that is part of it. It is about establishing effective communication and mutual respect through interaction that is rewarding in an appropriate way.

Some dogs will do anything for a toy or treat. Other dogs will do anything for their handler. It all depends on the dog you are trying to bond with. Some dogs will perform any trained task for any person that knows the language and has their reward. Other dogs take time to get to know their handler but work for different reasons after they have bonded.

huntergreen 04-08-2014 10:00 AM

the man could have been a veteran from the army and trained while enlisted.

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