At the 2011 Patrick Air Force Base Grinding Gears Car Show today they had a military canine demonstration. The MP’s brought out a dog, and some bait (technically called an agitator) dressed in padding to demonstrate on. They explained that these dogs are not trained solely as attack dogs anymore. They are cross trained as detector dogs and provide a few other services such as escort, intimidator, and tackler. This particular dog wasn’t a large dog like I would expect to see. She was lean, medium sized, and I think a Belgium Malinois. She was ready to bite too.
We watched as they showed the techniques they use to apprehend and intimidate suspects and suspicious people. The agitator showed his skills at acting as he gave attitude to the MP so that we could see the dogs response. At one point, during the chase demo, the dog actually got up under the bite suit and was on skin. Ouch. You can see it in the photos, that the handler wasn’t worried and apparently was having a great time. One thing that I found really noteworthy was that this dog was able to be recalled with no hesitation. She ran up after the suspect in bite mode and was called off on a dime. It was a great demonstration!
I know a lot of people unfamiliar with working dogs don’t know that this type of training is available to anyone as a civilian. It’s a sport called Shutzhund, and it’s a demanding, highly precise thing. Owners of working dogs don’t realize their potential abilities. They are highly intelligent and need the challenges of more advanced work. It’s a great thing for people with large dogs that they can have the ability to call off “bad” behaviors, and I think it should be routine in a training class.