How Military Dogs Are Trained | Boot Camp | Business Insider

 Military trainers don’t set specific timetables for the dogs to achieve certain benchmarks, and they don’t try to force the dogs to learn. Before they can take on the job, military dog trainers must demonstrate patience and understanding when working with dogs.[1]

  • Just like people, some dogs learn faster than others, and some dogs may never be able to learn everything you try to teach them. Your dog has the best chance to learn both quickly and effectively if you avoid arbitrary goals and a negative training environment.
  • Not everyone is cut out to be a dog trainer, either. If you know you don’t have the patience or positivity needed for the role, hire a professional dog trainer who utilizes military-style techniques.
    •  It’s important that you quickly show yourself as the “alpha”—that is, the leader in your pairing—but that you do so through camaraderie, not threats or force. If you don’t already have an established relationship with the dog, spend a few days or even weeks taking care of its needs before you start training it. Show it that you are the provider who can be relied on.[2]
    • If you already do have a relationship with the dog, spend a few days emphasizing your roles as provider and leader. Take care of feeding, walking, cleaning, and so on yourself, without treating them like unwanted chores.
    • Daily grooming is a good way to both build a positive bond and check the dog for potential medical issues. Military trainers typically groom their dogs every day.
    • Military trainers may not use rigid timetables for success, but they do use predictable training schedules. Choose 1 or 2 specific times each day for training, and hold training sessions in the same location each time. Look for a low-distraction training location, like an enclosed backyard or an isolated corner of the park.[3]
    • One of the reasons why dogs tend to make great “soldiers” is that they usually thrive on predictable schedules. Holding the training session at the same time each day helps your dog slip into “training mode” more easily.
    • Military dogs typically train for at least 4 hours per week and at least 30 minutes per day. Aim for 1 30-minute or 2 15-minute sessions per day, 6-7 days a week.
    • Positive reinforcement is the preferred method for all types of dog training, military-style or otherwise. At its core, it means immediately identifying, praising, and rewarding positive behaviors and identifying but not punishing negative behaviors.[4][5]
    • For instance, while house-training a dog, positive reinforcement means immediately responding anytime the dog “goes potty” properly with specific praise—”Good job, Scout, you went potty outside!”—and possibly a physical reward like a toy or treat.
    • However, when the dog has a potty accident inside, positive reinforcement means you simply and immediately identify the problem—“Scout, you went potty inside!”—and clean up the mess. It never involves hitting the dog or sticking its nose in the mess.
    •  Like military dog handlers (and most dog trainers of all types), start with 1 of the basic instructional commands—such as “sit,” “down,” “heel,” or “stay”—and master a single command at a time. Speak the command clearly and provide a distinct visual cue (such as a hand motion) at the same time. Provide subtle guidance as needed—such as nudging, but never forcefully pushing, the dog into a seated position.[6]
    • Don’t shout the commands or show anger or displeasure when the dog doesn’t comply properly. Remember to keep your cool and stay positive.
    • The instructional commands you teach beyond the basics like “sit,” “down,” “heel,” and “stay” depend upon your needs and the dog’s abilities. Military dogs may learn commands for things like detecting explosives or subduing enemies that you won’t need to teach, but the instructional methods remain largely the same.