Before the course opened July 14, handlers were taking the dogs to different locations on base to try and simulate movements the K-9s might need to make in a real-world situation. That method wasn’t always a success, however.
“We love having the course because it allows us to train the dogs to do the movements they might need to do, all while staying close to them and making sure they understand that the handler is in charge,” Watkins said. “Going other places might not allow us that ability.”
The military working dogs spend most of their time getting the training they need to be at the top of their games. In order to do that, trainers must be able to teach them how to follow a command.
“A major part of having the control is being able to get the dog to understand that when an input is given by the handler, they need to obey it,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Adams, 88 SFS military working dog handler and trainer. “A handler who lets their dog go through the course alone isn’t a good handler; completing the course while being side by side with your dog lets them know you are in command.”
When the dogs have to go to other environments, they can become distracted and may not learn to obey orders the same way, Adams said. The new obstacle course allows them to get back to training in a controlled, quiet environment.