RAF Feltwell dogs train to take on real life danger and keep base safe
16:50 23 April 2014
Dog handlers at RAF Feltwell have been showing how they help train recruits to sniff out trouble and keep the base safe.
The men and women of the 48th Security Forces Squadron military working dogs (MWD) unit carry out constant on-the-job training to stay ready for base patrols, real-world scenarios and combat situations.
Staff Sgt Chris Maziarka, 48th SFS MWD trainer, said: “The dogs’ sense of smell gives us the upper hand of detecting something; as a human, our eyes don’t allow us to see, whether that be an item wedged in the seats of a vehicle or a perpetrator in a low visibility scenario.”
According to Staff Sgt Christian Cykman, knowing what agitates the dog and what spots are OK to touch helps the handlers recognize changes in behavior and better communicate commands.
“Every day is different with the dogs,” said Staff Sgt. Christian Cykman, 48th SFS MWD handler. “Having a strong and trusting bond helps us as handlers adjust to the dogs’ moods and attitudes.”
Some of the dogs are trained at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, through the Department of Defense working dog course, while others may be purchased from U.S. or overseas private K-9 contractors.
Once the dogs are acquired by the different MWD units throughout the Air Force, on-the-job training begins immediately. For the K-9s at RAF Feltwell, weekly training is conducted for combat obedience, as well as working on the tactical obedience training course.
“The relationship between a handler and dog is the most important aspect of the team,” Staff Sgt Cykman said. “Without a strong rapport and bond, the consequence is a weak working team when involved in real-world scenarios.”
Once established, the bond between handler and dog is unbreakable, Senior Airman Anthony Peters, 48th SFS MWD handler, said.
“Working with [MWD] Gina, I feel that when I leave at the end of the day that I have completed something. Whether it is through training or building positive camaraderie, every day feels like an accomplishment that benefits our team,” he said.