Principles Of Dog Training M-3

Written By: Jim russell - Jul• 25•13

Now we get into the real secrets of creating your own military working dog.  The basic outline of the military obedience training course is similar to what most professional dog trainers use. You will find subtle differences in techniques and discipline, and as an added bonus that you would not get under normal training circumstances, you get me as your trainer giving my personal in the field insight, and little tricks, to supercharge your training sessions. Are you ready to train your dog?

Here is the biggest secret you can ever learn in quickly training any dog. It is considered a secret because very few trainers focus on it. This technique is so important to your success at perfectly training your dog , that most pro trainers that you pay good money to will only hint at it. What is this big secret?

It’s called Grooming and Inspection. Next to feeding, grooming and inspection are the most important events in a day in the life of MWDs. They are essential to the dog’s health and well-being and must be done daily. Because of the physical closeness between the dog and handler during this period, a psychological bond is developed. We would have handlers spend a week hanging out with the dog, without doing any training at all, just bonding with the animal so when training began, the dog accepted the handler was his new owner.

In grooming, give the dog a brisk rubdown with the fingertips moving against the grain. This loosens dead skin, hair, and dirt, bringing it to the surface and massages the skin. Next, just brush the dogs coat with the grain to return the hair to its natural position. Finally, hand rub the coat with the grain. This distributes the oil and gives the dogs coat a glossy appearance.

Daily inspection is part of the grooming period. During inspections you are simply looking over the dogs anatomy for signs of  illness or injury. After a short acquaintance, the handler knows how the dog should look and act when healthy, what is normal for the dog, how the coat looks, frequency of bowel movements, and eating habits. In daily inspection, this knowledge helps reveal anything abnormal, and if treatment begins early, the dog’s recovery is more rapid and less costly to you. Trust me when i tell you that the dog will love all this attention and it will quickly build up a strong connection between handler and k-9.

Basic Needs: Dogs respond to the environment to satisfy there bodily and social needs. Needs that can be controlled by the dog handler are used to teach dogs to do desired tasks. The needs that cannot be controlled by the dog handler interfere with training or task performance after training.

Breathing – Breathing is perhaps the strongest drive. An increased need for oxygen after physical exercise induces panting; this may hinder the dog in performing olfactory tasks. Breathing also comes into play during intense moments, like when the handler may need to choke out the dog. Although the reasons to actually have to choke out a dog are far and few between, I personally have had to do so and it was mainly due to human error and not because of any deliberate attempt on the dogs part. I will include an explanation of this technique below.

Water – Water must be given to the dog in adequate supply to prevent thirst from interfering with task performance. It would not be in the dogs best interest for you to use water as a reward or punishment. Some countries i have worked had trainers who used water as a training tool. They would only give water for a proper response, often waving it in front of a thirsty dog as a trainer would use a food reward. Please do not do this, actions like that are reserved for ignorant unskilled persons. You have access to the best of the best right here. There is no reason to resort to savage treatment when you have access to information that took millions of dollars and hundreds of hours to create and is used by the top military trainers in the world.

Food – Food must be given in adequate supply to prevent hunger from interfering with task performance. Food can also be used as a reward to train a dog to do a specialized task and maintain desired behavior. The military is of course always on the cutting edge when training its troops are concerned. We as MWD trainers were not limited to any rigid training system. If we wanted to try food reward with a dog that was fine. If we wanted to use a toy reward or have a play reward like chasing a ball that was fine. Many trainers and handlers found what their dog responded to best and used that as the reward. We even had one dog that use to get to bite a rag and have a tug of war with its handler whenever it completed a task, because that was what it wanted most.

Social Needs – A period of socialization between dog and handler is required so that vocal and petting praise will have reward value to it. This is very important to keep up your bond with the dog. We did not just have contact with our MWD,s when on duty. It was not as simple as say checking out a rifle, using it on the job, then returning it back at the end of your shift till next time. All handlers were expected to socialize with there dog even when not working them. We would take them for runs, or short walks, groom them almost daily and stop in to play around with them. Your dog should never go 48 hours without contact with you. If you were gone longer than that, you had another handler take care of it for you and who knows what kind of training it would receive. Nobody can do a better job of training your dog better than you, never forget that.

Pain – Minimizing pain is a basic need of the dog. That is why physical correction is effective.

Choke outs and Muzzle Tricks – I really love that title. Let me warn you right now, to choke out a dog is not a pretty sight and many, many people will be horrified that this technique even exists. That said, I personally believe that the choke out technique is a necessary evil of military dog training. You may not ever have to use it yourself, and i hope you have such control over your dog that you do not need to, but if you ever need it, i would like you to have it in your training toolkit.

Here is how it is done and why you may need it. If the dog is ever in a situation that you need it to stop immediately, say for example it will cause harm to you, another person, or the dog itself, and after trying to get the dogs attention it does not respond to you, then you may need to apply a choke out for every ones safety.

With both hands on the leash and holding the leash about a foot or so above where it connects to the collar, you are going to lift the dogs front feet off the ground and quickly position yourself so you are basically holding up the dog so it is standing upright like a person walking. In this position all the dogs weight is on its neck and the choke chain is cutting off the dogs air supply. The dog will be squirming and gasping for air and you will definitely have its attention.

You will also yell “NO” as loudly as you can, then when you believe the dog is submissive, you will slowly lower its front paws back to the ground. At this point the dog will be submissive and not be thinking of anything else but getting oxygen and listening to your commands.

This technique takes a lot of upper body strength as you hold up the dog. There have been times a handler had to lift the whole dog off the ground, back legs and all, but this takes a lot of strength. You must be on guard when bringing the dog back to the ground after the choke, as i have seen a dog turn on a handler because it does not like what was just done to it.

You may need to carry the dog in the choke out position to an area you can securely place it, like a kennel or indoors. In the worse case scenario you may be holding up your dog till it completely passes out, at which time you should lower it to the ground and wait for it to recover. I would ask everyone to leave the area if possible so only the handler is there when dog wakes up.

Again this is to be used under extreme circumstances only. You will not use it just because the dog refused to sit when told to do so. This technique also teeters on abuse of the animal if you use it to literally hang the dog till it is dead. As trainer it is your responsibility to gauge when the dog has had enough.

Remember what i said earlier about handler error being the reason a dog gets choked out. I have seen handlers get too close to another dog and a dog fight starts, a handler not paying attention and a child pulls the dogs tail getting an aggressive response of  biting the child, and i have even seen a dog get so enraged by a passing cat that the handler could not get dog to give up chase. All these instances required a choke out of the dog to regain control.

A Muzzle Trick – Here is a trick that goes with the above choke out technique. If you need to muzzle the dog and do not have your muzzle nearby then this will do the trick. It is called a leash muzzle. To apply a leash muzzle, tighten the choke chain on the dog’s neck by pulling the leash tightly with the right hand. Place the left hand, palm up, under the choke chain on the neck. Grasp the leash tightly as it passes through the palm of the left hand, wrap the leash once around the dog’s neck, and bring it up and across the left side of the dog’s head. Finally, wrap the leash twice around the muzzle of the dog and grasp it tightly with the left hand. The leash is now wrapped around dogs chin and snout preventing it from opening its mouth and only breathing through its nose.

This muzzle may be also used when a regular muzzle would not provide adequate safety. Do not use the leash muzzle when the dog is overheated, is having difficulty breathing, or if there is an indication the dog may vomit. Do not leave it on for long periods in hot weather.

Next module we will learn reward training the military way, see you there.






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