Military working dog handlers were trained to better understand their dogs’ behavior during a MWD Conflict Management Training July 7 in Wiesbaden to prevent dog bites.
Bites occur mainly due to two reasons, said Duane Stinson, U.S. Army Europe MWD program manager. New handlers are sometimes overly confident and have trouble interpreting dog behavior correctly, while also a handler’s lack of confidence with the dogs and an inability to react properly can lead to dog bites.
Stinson and his team provide personnel at seven different kennels throughout Europe with a one-day MWD Conflict Management Training, which comprises working dog psychology, understanding instinctive drives and behaviors, communication and canine body language, bite incident analysis, canine stress management and socialization, and a socialization exercise, the so-called pack walk.
“The more we understand them, the more we can cater our training and our treatment of them so that they are more resilient,” said Maj. Desiree Broach, Public Health Command Europe.
All of the U.S. Army dogs are patrol dogs, Stinson said, and they are either bomb or drug dogs. They are never trained on both.
The Army expects a very high level of performance of the dogs, said Broach. They are put in stressful situations, and they have to learn things that are not natural to them.
During the pack walk, the four working dogs at the Wiesbaden kennel were able to have a good time being taken for a walk in a controlled environment with the trainers and the handlers present and ready to de-escalate any kind of conflict among the dogs. Muzzles and leashes were additional precautions.
“We hope to sustain these kinds of events,” Stinson said. “Socializing is a need.”