Training the future canine force
6 May 2015
Canines have proven to be expert bomb detectors for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. With combat operations winding down, however, the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Expeditionary Canine Sciences program says it is taking a fresh look at how dogs are trained to identify different explosive devices — and their roles in future conflicts.
“We don’t know what challenges the battlefield of the future will present,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Mat Winter. “Our canine warfighters must be as well trained as their human counterparts. It’s critical that we learn as much as we can about how canines process scents and how long they retain scent memory.”
Researchers hope to streamline and enhance canines’ training so they can work with any Navy or Marine Corps dog handler, not just one. Another goal is to get the dogs to the point where they can even work without a handler’s leash.
In previous years, research and training focused primarily on developing physically strong dogs that could withstand the harsh climate, terrain and stress of combat. ONR’s new research focuses on cracking the code of olfactory and cognitive optimization — essentially, how dogs recognize and remember odors, and for how long and to what degree.
For example, different combustible elements are used to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Researchers want to find out if bomb-detecting dogs can expand their recognition of odors within these diverse elements and in what ratios.
“Before, dogs were trained on one dominant odor to identify explosive devices,” said Dr. Joong Kim, who oversees the canine program. “In this research, we want to expose them to a variety of elements and odors. Also, it’s not known whether dogs forget odors over time, so our tests will see how long dogs can remember smells before requiring retraining.”...
Read the rest here, although the BratCrew could already answer some of those vexxing questions without need for any further research. (*wooooof*!)