No, actually MWD stands for military working dog. The US Air Force has recently shed a bit of light on the training program it uses to train dogs for everything from guard duty to explosives detection.
First, the dog must be the right breed. The Air Force most commonly uses German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois, with a slight preference for the Malinois due to its longer average lifespan. Next, the dog is evaluated for its drive or “ability to remain focused and determined to obtain a goal”, according to Staff Sgt. Manuel Garcia of the 35th Security Forces Squadron.
The dog must undergo basic training, just as airmen do, at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. The program lasts from four to six months, depending on whether or not the dog gets held back for remedial training.
After being sent to its permanent base, the dog spends a few weeks with its new handler, learning to follow his commands. When the dog is ready, they review the basic obedience learned at Lackland, staying close to the handler and obeying his basic commands.
A few weeks later, the dog moves on to advanced obedience, where he learns to follow the same commands, even though he is off leash and at a distance from his handler. The dog also learns to crawl and roll, tactical moves he may need later.
Soon, the lessons begin to include actual work skills such as detection, attack, search, and working under the gun (literally!)
Once trained, the dog will work between 10 and 12 years, then be retired. He could be adopted, returned to Lackland to train new dogs, or be given to local police departments for further work.
A round of applause for our military working dogs! (As well as those they work with!)
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!