by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar
460th Space Wing Public Affairs
3/27/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The
460th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Section hosted a
training exercise with regional civilian law enforcement agencies March
20 at a training facility here.
Working dog teams from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Denver
Sheriff Department and Transportation Security Administration
participated in the exercise, which provided an opportunity to share
techniques and build camaraderie between the organizations.
"It's very important to get together and train together so we can learn
from each other. Each one of us has our own little tricks to doing
things," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly, 460th SFS military working dog
trainer. "We all have the same goals in mind, and that's just to make
the dogs better."
Combining training also means combining resources, a valuable opportunity for both the dogs and handlers.
"We try to mix it up. We do different training sites, different venues.
We use different training aides. That way we're always mixing it up for
the dogs," said Deputy J.J. Smith, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department
explosive detection K9 handler. "We're always trying to provide
environments where the dogs may end up. We use a movie theater. We use a
warehouse. We use a school, cars, packages -- you name it.
"If there's a situation we may encounter, we try to train on it," said
the handler who works with Flash, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois.
Just as the various physical training resources offer enhanced training
for the dogs and handlers, so too does the relationship-building
opportunity. As the handlers get to know one another better, they share
stories and lessons learned.
"Our relationships work out really well. ... I really enjoy working with
all the other agencies. It gives me a chance to pick up new things for
my tool box," Kelly said. "If we're having a problem with a certain
aspect of our canine training, they might have an input as far as how to
fix that problem or make our dogs advance to another level."
The civilian law enforcement agencies also benefit, as they gather knowledge of the 460th SFS handlers' deployment experiences.
Local handlers learn a lot from recollections of the dog and handler
relationship in "actual conditions," Smith said, referring to military
missions in the deployed environment. "A lot of times they can bring
back ideas of what they've actually seen over there.
"The bottom line is, for every organization, everybody has a different
way of training canines, and everybody's idea is just as valid as
another's," he added. "The ultimate goal is to get their canine
team better. We're not machines, but we're training so we have a high