Dogs undergoing training at CRPF's Dog Breeding and Training School in Bengaluru. Photo/ANI
Dogs undergoing training at CRPF's Dog Breeding and Training School in Bengaluru. Photo/ANI

Here's how dogs get trained to accompany special forces for risky operations

ANI | Updated: Nov 01, 2019 06:27 IST

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], Nov 1 (ANI): It is indeed true that a dog is man's best friend! The canine is a saviour when its owner is in danger or when it accompanies a special force during a risky operation.
In the past several years, dogs have been inducted into several law enforcement and paramilitary personnel squads as they help to search for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, finding crime scene evidence, and attacking people who targetted by their adversaries.
In CRPF's Dog Breeding and Training School at Taralu village in Bengaluru, dogs of various breeds such as Belgian Shepherd, German Shepherd and Labradors undergo a rigorous training programme to be inducted into the force's canine squad respectively.
The Belgian Shepherd, as the name suggests, hails from Belgium and are known for their ruggedness, aggressiveness and super agility. The breed has now emerged as the hot favourite for police and enforcement agencies.
"The reason why the CRPF chose this breed as they have a sleek body and can walk up to miles in any operation. Jawans have to walk for miles to reach an operation point for any operation. So, this breed is the only breed who can walk for miles," P Manoj Kumar, Commandant, Vice Principal, Dog Breeding and Training Centre, told ANI.
Touching upon the training provided to the dogs, he explained, "We focus on identity detection, assault and tracking. This is one discipline that we have. The other is identity detection, infantry patrol and assault. These are two different types of training modules we have. We are using our dogs for multitasking. We can train any dog for sniffing substances like narcotics or mobile phones in jails."
"We are using positive reinforcement training which is one of the most preferred dog training methods we are having. In other dog schools, it's mostly on punishment and food refusal. Here, we harness the prey drive of the dog which is a natural instinct. The prey drive is channelised as a reward. For any good work done, it is rewarded. Every dog is a willing worker," he added.
The CRPF dog school was established in December 2011 in Bengaluru and till now 553 dogs have been trained and deployed in the field.
Asked whether the institute is training other dog breeds, Kumar said, "We are training German Shepherds and Labradors also which is a field requirement where these dogs don't have to walk for longer distances."
DIG ML Ravindra, principal of the CRPF Dog Breeding and Training School, echoing similar sentiments, explained why Belgian Shepherds are so sought after by special forces and enforcement agencies across the world.
"Till 2011, our main breeds were German Shepherds and Labradors. But the problem with the two breeds is they are not very rugged. They feel tired after going for four to five kilometres. We thought we should go for another breed which is rugged and can walk for 20 to 30 kilometres...Initially, we imported 15 Belgian Shepherd dogs from Belgium and started training and breeding them," he explained.
He said that the Belgian Shepherd is talented and can adapt to multitasking, be it sniffing, tracking or assault.
"We conduct jungle camps for dogs. This is done for four weeks. They have to know the geographical terrain and actual war terrain. Dogs will stay in tents with their handlers. They will eat the same food that their handlers will eat. They will cover the same distance where constables are going," Ravindra said.
Notably, the Belgian Shepherd is the same breed that was used by US Navy Seals in the 2011 operation that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan.
Recently, a dog of the same breed played a pivotal role in the operation by US special forces in Syria's Idlib province. The dog, named 'Conan', located and tracked ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at his compound, following which the terrorist killed himself by detonating his suicide vest.
The canine reportedly suffered injuries as a result of the explosion and is recovering.
Mohammad B Ali, a master trainer at the dog training institute in the city, underlined the importance of building a relationship between a canine and its handler.
"There is a need for creating synergy between the dog and the handler. We should not be forceful on the dog and the animal should be given love. We give directions to the handlers on how to train the dog. We train them on how to entice the dog with food in order to build the bond between them," he said.
"As a master trainer, puppies have a natural behaviour. So, we have to train them as per our directions. We train the handlers accordingly on how they can motivate the dog," Ali added. (ANI)

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