Friday, July 16, 2010

ACC hosts MWD training seminar at Langley

by Airman 1st Class Jason J. Brown
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

7/16/2010 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFNS) -- Military working dogs and their handlers from across Air Combat Command assembled here June 28 through July 2 for the first military working dog training seminar.

The handlers and dogs attended the five day course, hosted by the 633rd Security Forces Squadron, to receive intensive education and training, including dog psychology and behavior, decoy training, and ways to improve working dog performance.

The seminar provided the upgrade training for security forces MWD teams to be successful at home and while deployed, said Staff Sgt. Gary Cheney, a 633rd SFS MWD handler.

"These dogs are safeguards on the front lines, at the gates finding bombs and drugs, supporting our sister services outside the wire," he said. "This training ensures that dogs and handlers can perform in the real world."

Master Sgt. Antonio Rodriguez, the 902nd Security Forces Squadron law enforcement operations superintendent from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, and Chris Jakubin, a U.S. Air Force Academy kennel master, administered the course, which began with a classroom session before handlers and dogs began hands-on decoy and prey training.

The instructors designed the program to enhance the dogs' abilities and educate handlers who, in turn, return to their respective units and share the training with other handlers.

Training activities included catching and "reading dogs," avoiding being bitten and interpreting a dog's behaviors and mannerisms.

Much of the training focused around gauging a dog's willingness to engage a suspect, known as a dog's "drive," Sergeant Cheney said.

"Learning the dog's psychology and doing decoy training allows me and the dog to do better patrol work," he said.

In addition to testing the dogs' behavior during decoy training, handlers donned tactical bite suits for dogs to apply their training as realistically as possible.

"Getting bit by your dog allows you to understand what the suspect is going through, just like when we use tasers and pepper spray on one another in training," Sergeant Cheney said. "The tactical bite suit made it more realistic. The dog recognizes the suspect is in pain and knows what to do."

In addition to hands-on training, handlers took advantage of the wealth of knowledge the kennel masters and more experienced handlers brought to the seminar.

"It was humbling to be around veteran kennel handlers," said Senior Airman Jonathan Bourgeois, a 633rd SFS military working dog handler. "I asked a lot of questions, trying to pull as much information as possible, because it's so rare to be around that much experience."

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