News>Airmen partner with TSA for working-dog training
Transportation Security Administration working dog Ben searches for scent during a working dog training exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, April 11, 2012. The working dog training exercises are conducted once every week and consist of various dog handling organizations being taught the various handling procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ty-Rico Lea)
by Airman 1st Class Ty-Rico Lea
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs
4/24/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Loud barks could be heard yards away as military and Transportation Security Administration dog handlers prepared their assigned K-9 for the weekly joint working dog training. Staff Sgt. Matthew Byrnes, 673d Security Forces Squadron military dog handler led the training for TSA personnel to demonstrate various dog handling techniques.
"Currently we're doing a joint training with TSA dog handlers most of whom have come from different parts of the lower 48 as well as Alaska's airports," Byrnes said . "We train with TSA and other civilian dog handlers once every week."
Byrnes began his training with an initial brief explaining the principles of the dog handling technique known as play-at-source, and how it's used by military security forces members.
The play-at-source method is used to exploit a dog's play and prey (hunt) drives, while also clearly teaching the dog the desire to be obedient to odor through "game." TSA members went through the process of placing an odor, unknown to the dog, and then having the dog search for the hidden scent.
When the dog catches the scent, it will immediately show the handler by moving sporadically. The handler will then prompt the dog to heel. If the dog reacts correctly, it will be rewarded with a treat. If done poorly, it will go through the process until done properly.
"It's actually pretty fun coming out here and exchanging training techniques with TSA," Byrnes said. "You get to see what they're capable of and it's certainly something new every day."
There are currently 11 security forces dog teams on JB Elmendorf.
Staff Sgt. Beaun Clegg is the 673d SFS handler for military working dog Khan. Clegg and Khan both demonstrated firsthand what is to be done when identifying a possible explosive threat with the play-at-source method. Clegg would place a scent in a certain location a great distance away from Khan, Clegg would then prompt Khan to find the hidden scent and properly heel at Clegg's command.
At the end of the training session, Byrnes brought training participants together and discussed techniques that needed improvement and what methods worked in critical situations.
"This training is going to save lives," Byrnes said. "it will give both us and fellow TSA members here today the opportunity to contemplate ways which will further advance dog training standards."
4/25/2012 4:38:45 PM ET SSgt Clegg's MWD is spelled Kahn.... means little boat. Just wanted to clarify LoL