Hahn Air Base, West Germany: The 50th AP K-9 Section, 1961

...going by the manual


Glad You Made It! Enjoy The Exercise!

USAF Sentry Dog Attack Training

Starting for the training area on a choke chain, our dogs soon learnt, that when we attached their leather collar it meant that they were 'on duty'. (ie - their choke chain was used only for obedience training ...their leather collar for attack training and while working post).

In the early sixties all of our Sentry Dogs at Hahn were Attack Dogs, and were taught not merely to warn us of the presence of a stranger by growling or barking but also be able to work both on and off their leash, and attack on command or if there was any provocation.

He Looks Big Enough, Doesn't He?

It was necessary that they all possess certain characteristics, such as high intelligence, willingness, energy, and above all else, aggressiveness. Moreover, they had to be courageous, strong and large and heavy enough to throw a grown man to the ground.

Not all our dogs at Hahn filled that description, both Edo and Arras did, but others like Lux were lightweights, even wet he only weight about 55 pounds,  but what Lux lacked in weight, he made up with spunk...a lot of them did!

Also our dogs weren't taught to bite they did that instinctively. What we did was to control their aggressive behavior and taught them when it was okay to bite and when to stop biting.

I'm Real Social...Go Ahead, Pet Me!
I Double, No...I Triple Dare You To!

Sentry Dogs back then, unlike today's Military Working Dogs, weren't very social, generally they were used only in isolated areas, away from all friendly troops.

Were Sentry "Attack" Dogs effective? I thought so! The ever present human fear of a vicious dog plus the dog's altertness in detecting intruders made him a invaluable asset in security work.

Alert & Attack Training!

In addition to advancing the dog's general obedience, the K9 Handler must  instill the idea, that every other human, except himself, is the dog's natural enemy.

This is done, by encouraging the dog to alert at the presence of any stranger. It must be emphasized, that the K9 Handler never permits anyone to pet or make friends with his dog. For the same reason he must never pet or make friends with any dog except his own.

The command "WATCH" is used to put the dog on Alert. It is given in a low voice, with a ring of urgency.

The Sentry Dog was taught to stand Guard while his Handler approached and searched the suspect.

An Agitator (anyone who teases and taunts the dog) is used to assist the Handler in this exercise. As the Handler commands "WATCH," the Agitator makes threatening moves towards the dog or handler.

The dogs were trained to attack at any aggressive move made by a suspect towards the handler as well.

The K9 Handler then encourages his dog with either command "CATCH" or "GET HIM," the Handler then moves towards the Agitator in a manner, that encourages and interests the dog in attacking the teaser.

At the first indication of an attack by the dog, the Agitator runs away. The dog must always win! Any aggressive move by the dog must chase the teaser away. Note: This procedure MUST be enforced to the greatest extent.

Sentry Dogs were also taught to cease an attack on command before actually biting. This was a difficult one for the dogs to learn, as they did love to bite and it didn't make any difference to them, who! To call off a attack, the command was OUT.

Of all the commands, this is perhaps the hardest to teach and required the most patiences!

Your Sentry Dog should be on the 20-foot training lead for the exercise; and while running towards the Agitator (attacking), the command OUT is given just before the dog reaches the end of the long lead, at which time, the dog should stop short of the Agitator by his own accord or by keeping the lead taunt, and resume the WATCH position.

Success in teaching a dog to stop an attack...is REPETITION!

It's important, to use different individuals as Agitators in order to make the sentry dog generally antagonistic towards all strangers. The Agitator's function is as important in SENTRY DOG TRAINING as the function of the K-9 Handler, his work should be carefully supervised by the instructor.

Advance Alert & Attack Training!

A more advance form of alert, attack training is accomplished by concealing the Agitator behind a fence, or in a ditch and then allowing the dog to locate him, at which time the Agitator reacts in the manner described above. This type of training must never be attempted in or near the squadron area, as normal daytime activity will distract the dog and may result in injury to by standers. This exercise should never exceed ten (10) minutes.

After a rest period of ten minutes, the alert 'n attack exercises may be repeated. It is important, that the dog must always win, and that any one exercise not exceed ten (10) minutes. A dog, like a child, becomes bored with any activity in a comparatively short time. Normally attack training is not conducted more than once a week, except in special instances.

Acclimation To Gun Fire!

When an dog evidences gun shyness, he should not be forced into accepting the noise or punished for being shy. Neither of the above methods will accomplish anything. They will only increase the dog's fear. The K-9 Handler must spend as much time with the sentry dog as possible comforting and reassuring him whenever an unusual noise is heard.

To correct shyness, firing a small caliber gun from a distance, only when the K-9 Handler is with his dog, and slowly (on consecutive days) decreasing the distance will, in most cases, result in improvement.

Gun shyness results from a fear of the unknown and requires a lot of patiences and time to correct. Blank cartridges should be used for this training in an effort to prevent accidental injury to Handlers and dogs.

Importance of Distrust of Strangers!

The Sentry Dog is taught not to make friends with strangers, but if you're having a problem, the following method may be employed.

The Handler walks his dog on leash at the loose heel position. A stranger approaches uttering ingratiating words and coaxes the dog to come to him. As soon as the dog makes an attempt to respond, the stranger SLAPS him smartly on the nose and jumps away.

The Handler then encourages his dog to attack the stranger. This is repeated until the sentry dog growls and barks on the approach  of the stranger, no matter how friendly his attitude, or how much he attempts to appease the dog.

The stranger then tries to coax the Handler's dog away with some choice tidbits, meat, or anything else of which the dog may be particularly fond of. If the sentry dog attempts to take the food offered, the stranger again SLAPS him on the nose and runs away without giving him the food.

Thus, the dog learns that HIS HANDLER IS THE ONLY ONE TO BE TRUSTED.

SiteBuilder Note: While the sentry dog training methods presented here are correct; anyone attempting to use them, does so, at their own risk, not ours.

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