Authorized Equipment M-2

Written By: Jim russell - Jul• 20•13

The following items are used by each MWD handler and are issued on entering initial patrol dog training. These are the tools of the military working dog handler.Replacement of these items is the responsibility of the MWD section.

  Choke Chain – The choke chain is the basic collar used for all MWDs. Usually, the choke chain is left on the dog at all times. To arrange the choke chain, hold one of the rings horizontally and with the other hand holding the second ring, allow the chain to fall through the first ring, forming a loop. Place the loop over the dog’s head so that it releases when the leash is slack. If it does not hang  loose on the dog’s neck when you hold the leash slack, then you have it backwards and need to simply remove it and turn it around. The  chain should only tighten on the dog when you pull the leash taunt. The choke chain is your training collar and your working collar. Choke chains are available in a number of sizes and the handler is responsible to make sure the correct size is used. You must remain mindful of  the chain collar when dog is off leash as the collar can be thrown from the dog’s neck during rough activity. I have never lost a choke chain, but i have had to search the high grass for it several times. Losing it won’t be an issue as you should have your eyes on the dog when training and when working with it anyway.

 Leather Collar – A leather collar was used when a dog needed to be secured to a stationary object. This thick leather collar was used in stakeout training, which was when the dogs leash was tied to a fence and then the dog was highly agitated by a person acting as a training decoy. Having  the dog on this type of collar gave piece of mind that the dog would not accidentally slip off the choke chain during agitation training and not allow the training decoy a chance to escape to a safe area. The leather collar is usually used with a stakeout chain.

Stakeout Chain – Also known as a Kennel Chain, this 6-foot chain is used with the leather collar when securing the dog to a stationary object. The stakeout chain was never tied around the dog’s neck or snapped to the choke chain. This piece of equipment was basically a thick heavy chain that on one end had a clip that could securely snap onto the leather collar, and on the other end of the chain was a similar clip, that allowed the chain to be attached to a fence or wrapped around a pole and attached to itself. The clips used on this type of chain were of  heavy steel so as not to compromise the secure ability of this piece of equipment.

Muzzle – The muzzle is a safety device used to prevent the dog from biting. It is usually worn during veterinary treatment or field first aid treatment. The  Air Force manual 125-5 where this training originates from stated that the muzzle should not be used during training as it is distracting to the dog. I on the other hand beg to differ on that fact. We have successfully used it in so called muzzle attacks ( see training tactics on this site ).

Leashes used – Two types of leashes were available for use : a leather 60-inch leash and the cotton web 360-inch training leash. Only the 60-inch leather leash is initial issue. The 360-inch cotton web leash is used during advanced obedience training, some phases of attack training, and when the dog is used for tracking.

  Leather Harness - The only time the patrol dog wears the harness is while tracking. It enables the handler to control the dog’s ranging distance but still allows the dog to breath normally. In today’s military there are better options made available to a handler ( see ” K9 storm ” website ). The leather harness was all we had to work with at the time i trained with the Air Force.

Arm Protector - The arm protector is used by the agitator when training patrol dogs in controlled aggressiveness. This sleeve is used instead of the attack suit sleeve because patrol dogs trained on the larger, more bulky attack suit sleeve tend to have a weaker, more inconsistent bite. The smaller sleeve is easier to bite and dogs more readily bite the sleeve than attack some other portion of the body. The arm protectors are made of leather or heavy-gauge canvas, and are designed to fit closely, yet flexible enough to permit arm movement. The protector should always be wrapped with heavy cloth or burlap to serve as added padding against bites or bruises. Also, the cloth allows a greater degree of protection against injury to the dog’s teeth and gums. As the bite sleeve got more worn with use and it became difficult to acquire a new one through normal channels, trainers would wrap the chewed up arm protector with any rags and strips of cloth they could get. This practice required trainers to adjust and retie the cloth back into place after each bite session. You had to learn to improvise when needed. The padded arm protector is also referred to as a wrap.

Attack Suit – Although expensive, even more so today, each kennel usually had a bite suit available if the base had a big enough MWD  section there. The suit was worn only with dogs that refused to bite just on the arm, and would go for agitators legs or back. Patrol dogs usually because of how they trained were what we called ” Wrap Reliable “, meaning that they always ran up and bit the arm protector and nowhere else. For peacetime security details this was acceptable, but today the dog’s are trained to attack any available body part and not focus on just the arm.

 

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