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Military working dog (MWD) Training and Certification – Tactical Dog

Military working dog certification

Military working dogs and their handlers, 31 kilo’s, are required to pass the annual certification course that lasts week-long. The course is conducted at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and is designed to simulate many of the functions that military working dog teams can serve. Under the watchful eye of senior NCOs and civilian instructors the handlers and their dogs perform actions like guarding entry control points, searching for explosives drugs and other contraband and subduing enemy combatants.

However, a large part of the training focuses on the handler’s abilities to control their dog. They also pay attention to the dog’s ability to obey commands. Handlers and their dogs conduct 4 hours of obedience training and 4 hours of searching and controlled aggression each week. Doing such rigorous training ensures that the dog is able to understand and perform actions. Even as simple as stay.

K9 certification training course military working dog

Private first class Bow Andrea recently graduated from advanced individual training for the newly created MOS 31 kilo. Also known as a military working dog handler. Both he and his partner, a two-year-old German Shephard named Leonidas, are running through the course for the first time. PFC Andrea says that training with Leo has been a challenge because despite his size, weighing close to 100 pounds Leo is still a puppy.

“It’s been very difficult at the beginning because puppies are stubborn. Leo was very stubborn at first but we both came around. I was learning how to train a green dog and he was learning how to be with the green handler. It’s been very hard, it’s been very difficult but it’s all going to pay off later”

Sections of the course will include scouting. Where the dogs must track and locate a fleeing subject in the woods. So it doesn’t matter if they walk on two legs or four the soldiers of 947 MP detachment are constantly honing their skills to make sure they can do their part to keep the military district of Washington safe.

117th Infantry Regiment

Military working dogs or MWD’s have a tough job. In the deployed area MWD’s are often responsible for safely clearing areas for troops and vehicles. There are different types of MWD’s like Pepe.

Military working dog training and certification tactical dog

“There are a couple different programs. The program I’m with right now is the specialized search dog program. When we get deployed our main mission is to search for explosive ordinances weapons cache days and IEDs.”

Specialist O’Neil also said dogs like Pepe are unique because they are trained to work off-leash with their partners. Soldiers of the 117th Infantry Regiment used dogs like Pepe during Operation Southern Strike two because her non aggressiveness made her more useful in the close confines of villages.

3rd US Infantry Regiment 947th

If dogs are considered man’s best friend then a soldier’s best friend is the military working dog. Military working dog teams from the 3rd US Infantry Regiment nine hundred forty seventh military police detachment re-certified this week at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The week-long certification process ensures that both explosives and narcotic detection teams are ready to ensure the safety and security of our soldiers and the public. During the certification, they search for narcotics and also do patrol work such as building searches and apprehensions.

Teams conduct search operations in a variety of environments from a large warehouse to small barracks rooms. The exercises evaluated many facets of a team’s performance including target substance detection, communication between dog and handler and proper search tactics and procedures.

military working dog certification tactical dog

“The best thing about being a working dog handler is that my soldier doesn’t talk back to me at all”.

Currently dog handlers are drawn from normal military police soldiers. Beginning in April of next year however they will have their own military occupational specialty.

7 Interesting facts about the military working dog

Military working dogs or MWDs are silent heroes and most of us know absolutely nothing about them. Here are seven fascinating facts about military working dogs.

So what do we know about military working dogs?

In boot camp they have problems with the rope swing?

They’re great at barking orders?

In 2008 General David Petraeus stated this.

“The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine. By all measures of performance, their yield outperforms any asset we have in our inventory. Our Army would be remiss if we failed to invest more in this incredibly valuable resource.”

This shows how valuable and amazing military working dogs are. Here are 7 things your probably didn’t know about them. 

#1. They are made by the military

The military doesn’t accept or use dogs from private citizens for their MWD program. These dogs are Belgian Malinois and they are bred on an Air Force Base in Texas for this very specific purpose. 

The puppy program breeds Belgian Malinois, aka malla Gators, but you may see some other breeds being used by the military. These are different flavors of Shepard like German, Dutch or different breeds entirely. These are all brought in from specially selected kennels. 

If some of these dogs don’t end up working for the military they may end up working for law enforcement or TSA. The military actually has puppy development specialists that work with these dogs from the time they’re born to get them ready for the jobs they’re going to have later in life. 

#2. They are fostered

From eight weeks to seven months of age these dogs are fostered in appropriate homes where they’re socialized. They become familiar with people, other dogs, objects, noises and how to be a dog. If you’re interested in socializing your dog check out our article about building your dog’s confidence. 

At 7 months of age these dogs head back to the base and attend puppy training followed by dog training school. This is similar to boot camp for most of these dogs.

#3. MWD'S are treated very well

When training is complete, military working dogs are valued by the Department of Defense at over 28,000 dollars each. They are considered high-value and sensitive assets. There are strict security protocols to make sure that these dogs are safeguarded at all times.

#4. they have long careers

The average working time for these dogs is eight to nine years before retirement.This may not seem like a long time in human terms but to dogs that’s roughly 60 years.

#5. they receive medical care

The care and maintenance of these dogs is set by the army veterinary Corps. Each military department has published their own additional care standards for their own dogs. Furthermore, each dog is assigned a handler who’s in charge of making sure these standards are met both at home and abroad.

#6. retirement

What happens when it’s time for these dogs to retire?

When a military working dog has completed is duty he goes up for adoption to law enforcement agencies, former handlers or other people that the military has deemed acceptable to give them good homes, given their training. Between 2012 and 2014 the Department of Defense adopted out 1,312 dogs to individuals and 252 to law enforcement agencies.

Over 90% of former military working dogs are adopted by their handlers the remaining 10% said that they and their handlers were just going in different directions and they wanted to move on and breaking up was the best thing for everybody.

#7. army veterinarians

Lots of people are surprised to know that the Army has its own veterinarians. Today the army veterinary Corps is made up of 780 veterinarians and Warrant officers who are in active duty and Army Reserves. These veterinarians are in charge of food, safety, security, animal care, veterinary public health and research and development.