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Employing Military Working Dog Teams

Military working dog teams support a variety of MP operations. They are used in peacetime environments to extend MP resources. And on the battlefield MWD teams can support MP tactical units involved in all MP missions. The MWD teams can prove an additional asset for security measures. MWD teams can be used to help MP deter and detect the enemy. In peacetime MWD teams make a valuable contribution in the detection, investigation, or prevention of criminal activity. Installation PMs can enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement operations by employing MWD teams.






The functions of MWD teams focus on the skills of the dog. The patrol dog is the basic Army MWD. All of the MWD employment concepts that have been developed revolve around the basic skills of the Army patrol dog. Some patrol dogs may subsequently be trained in additional skills, such as tracking, narcotics detection, and explosives detection.

The decision to employ patrol dogs must be weighed carefully by the responsible commander to be sure that if patrol dog teams are committed, all lesser means of force have been reasonably attempted and have failed. PMs, security officers, or MP commanders will establish procedures governing the release of patrol dogs consistent with Army use of force policy (see AR 190-12 and AR 190-28).

Patrol dog teams are not generally used for traffic control or accident investigation duties. If exceptional circumstances require that they perform these duties, the dog is secured in the vehicle. The patrol dog is trained to detecting personnel secondary perform the primary function of the presence of unauthorized and warning its handler. The function of the patrol dog is to pursue, attack, and hold any intruder who attempts to avoid apprehension or escape from custody. Releasing the dog constitutes the conscious application of physical force. Patrol dogs may be released to apprehend an intruder who is suspected of committing a serious offense and tries to escape or use deadly force.

Patrol dogs must be used cautiously in confrontation situations, since their presence could aggravate a situation. Unlike people, a patrol dog does not fear an armed person and, if fired at, will pursue and attack. A patrol dog handler who is confronted (for example, in a club or housing area) avoids entering a building or a closed area alone with the patrol dog. The handler withdraws safely from a confrontational situation and then immediately reports the incident to his supervisor so that necessary actions can be taken.

Patrol dogs are not to be used for crowd control or direct confrontation with demonstrators unless determined to be necessary by the responsible commander. Use of patrol dog teams for direct confrontation with demonstrators is not recommended. The duty of the MP is to prevent escape or effect a lawful apprehension of a person engaged in a criminal act. In a crowd situation, there is no certainty that a patrol dog will attack, pursue, and hold the person against whom the dog has been released. Therefore, under no circumstances will dogs be released in a crowd.

Using patrol dogs in dependent housing or in the vicinity of troop billets helps deter criminal actions. The team has the ability to move quickly from one area to another, but actual patrolling of housing and billet areas is done mostly dismounted.


A patrol dog team may be used on gate duty or other entry control functions. The dog's primary function is deterrence and protection of the handler. Use of MWD teams for entry control, however, is not recommended because of the high volume of traffic, the large number of distractions, and the reduction of the handler's ability to maintain positive control over the dog.

If circumstances necessitate using MWD teams at entry control points, the dog is not confined inside a gate house where it cannot respond to its handler if needed. Further, the MWD team will need to be frequently moved to other duties to keep the dog alert and proficient.

The primary function of a patrol dog team on a fixed post is surveillance over an area or building. If used outside, the team is located downwind where the dog can detect an intruder by scent, sound, or sight. If this is not possible, the team is located so an intruder can be detected by sight and sound. When used inside, the dog depends mostly on his hearing. Other MP maybe used with dog teams on fixed posts.

The patrol dog's contribution to the law enforcement effort is most effective when the team is used on foot patrol. Some of the law enforcement duties that a patrol dog team can do as a walking patrol include checking or clearing buildings and patrolling parking lots, family housing areas, and troop billet areas. Patrol dog teams used to escort and safeguard funds may deter some people from attempting to rob the courier.

Giving patrol dog teams a mobile capability significantly increases their potential area of coverage and allows the teams to perform a greater range of functions during a duty shift. The team is normally unaccompanied, but other MP may go with the team when the need arises.

Mobile patrols are most effective when the patrol dog team uses the ride-awhile, walk-awhile method. The team is able to help cover a large patrol area, and the periodic exercise helps to keep the dog alert.

The patrol dog team can check buildings visually while patrolling by vehicle. The patrol dog team can also stop and dismount so the handler can physically check doors and windows. To take maximum advantage of the dog's scenting ability, the handler approaches buildings from downwind.

To check identification or to apprehend, the handler always warns the person that if he or she displays any hostility to the patrol or to the handler, the dog will attack without command. Once the handler has been alerted by the dog, it becomes the responsibility of the handler to cope with the situation in the most appropriate manner. Frequently, the appropriate action is to keep the intruder or area under surveillance until other MP personnel can arrive. After an apprehension, a search is always done with the patrol dog in the guard position. A backup MP patrol is used to transport apprehended personnel.

Dog teams are useful to detect and apprehend thieves and vandals in vehicle parking lots. Also, the presence of the patrol dog team may deter potential acts of theft and vandalism. The team can be most effective by alternating between vehicle and foot patrol in a parking lot. During hours of darkness, when there is no activity in a parking lot, the team approaches the lot from the downwind side.

If a building is open or forced entry is evident, patrol dog teams may be used to track hidden intruders from point of penetration to their location. In responding to an alarm at facilities such as clubs, finance offices, or banks, the patrol dog team should be among the first MP on the scene.

When the need for tracking arises, personnel who are on the scene avoid the area and keep other personnel from entering the tracking area. This will reduce contamination of the area with extraneous or confusing scents.

The dog begins tracking as soon as possible because success often depends on the strength of the available scent. The passage of time, wind strength, and other environmental conditions will affect the strength of the scent. Human scent adheres well to grass and brush which can improve the chances of success. Paved or gravel areas and strong scents such as fertilizer, burned grass, or spilled oil or gasoline impede the tracking ability. Human scent remains longer on cool, moist ground. Direct sunlight, extremely dry ground, or heavy rain dissolves scent rapidly, making tracking more difficult.

The methods used to track lost personnel, especially children, are different from those used to track a fleeing suspect. Only dogs who have been trained to track successfully for lost personnel are used, to avoid any danger of harming innocent persons.

Not all patrol dogs have been trained to track. Among the dogs trained to track, not all have the same tracking ability. The kennel master must know which of his assigned patrol dogs are good trackers and use the best patrol dogs for tracking missions.


MWD teams provide support for crime prevention and law enforcement activities. MWD teams may be employed in routine patrol duties in heavily populated areas with safety and efficiency. They can be used to support police operations in searching crime scenes. They can track fleeing saboteurs. They can clear buildings of sympathizers or stay-behind pilferers. They can also apprehend criminal offenders. MWD teams can perform perimeter security duties at isolated activities. Patrol dogs may be employed on fixed security posts or in conjunction with security patrols. MWD teams can protect ammunition supply points and critical resupply areas. They can protect bridges, railway marshaling areas, and airfields. They can work with MP security units at remote communications sites and at isolated MP circulation control points. They are also highly useful in cordon and search operations. In fact, on the battlefield just as in a peacetime environment, MWD teams are useful wherever the dogs' highly developed senses of smell and hearing can be used to detect the presence and location of otherwise invisible intruders or enemy. (The use of dogs in the vicinity of petroleum, oil, and lubricant points must be infrequent and of short duration because of damaging effects on paws and to sense of smell.) In addition explosives detector dogs have been trained to discriminate the scent of explosives. They may be used in detecting, tracking, and searching buildings, aircraft, and vehicles to protect government property and personnel.


The abuse of drugs by military personnel, their dependents, and civilians, who may enter military areas for work, business, or recreation, presents a continuing problem for the Army. Every effort must be made to reduce the potential danger to society and particularly to the military community from those who sell or abuse drugs.

Narcotics detector dogs serve as effective investigative tools for trained personnel in detecting narcotics and other contraband and will be employed under the supervision of such personnel. The dog handler with his detector dog form a detector team.

The use of well-trained narcotics detector dogs is one of the most efficient means of detecting the possession or transportation of dangerous drug contraband The narcotics detector dog is trained through a program of practice and reward to recognize the scent of drugs such as marihuana, hashish, heroin, cocaine, and other related substances. When the narcotics detector dog locates any of these substances, the dog will alert its handler.

The use of narcotics detector dogs during a health and welfare inspection must be authorized by the installation commander or a commander having control over the personnel and property to be inspected. There are several legal considerations in using the narcotics detector dog since the apprehension and possible criminal prosecution of offenders may be involved.

Commanders and supervisors should work closely with the command SJA to ensure that drug detection operations achieve objectives and comply with legal requirements. Whenever the operational situation may result in the apprehension and possible criminal prosecution of offenders, the procedural and record-keeping requirements defined in AR 190-12 apply to narcotics detector dog teams.

Court decisions and changes to existing laws and policy frequently alter the methods and procedures that must be followed for proper narcotics detection programs. Handlers must learn and apply the rules of evidence, search and seizure, and the procedures for collecting and preserving evidence.


Few other criminal acts create such concern and fear in the hearts of a nation's citizens as a series of bombings. It is no coincidence that organized crime and terrorist groups routinely use explosive materials as a means of achieving their violent goals. Whether the objective is murder, intimidation, extortion, or governmental disruption, the bomb is a favorite and effective weapon of the criminal element. One of the most effective countermeasures to the use of explosives is the deterrent value and the detection capabilities of the EDD team. EDD teams fill three distinct roles in MP operations in addition to their routine use as patrol dog teams.

The type of threat received and local policy determine the initial actions to be taken in response to a bomb threat. The procedures used during training rehearsals for bomb threats will be used during actual bomb threats.

Evacuation of the area may or may not be ordered by the responsible commander or his designated bomb scene officer. But the area must be evacuated if the EDD team is being used to perform the initial search. The area must be evacuated to minimize the distractions to the EDD team and to reduce the risk to area occupants in the event of an explosives detonation. The advantage of using the EDD team to conduct the search is that the EDD handler has specialized knowledge of explosives and explosive devices and search techniques.

Public knowledge that EDD teams are assigned to and are used at an installation acts as a deterrent to persons who may try to use explosives illegally on the installation. The knowledge that, explosives can be detected by EDDs at installation gates or in places where explosives have been hidden can prevent a person from attempting to bring explosives onto an installation.

The most common use of EDD teams, and probably the most important, is to search areas or buildings against which a bomb threat has been made. A well-trained EDD team can conduct a significantly more effective search of any area or facility than almost any number of people. However, when persons who work in the specific, threatened area are available to identify unfamiliar objects, planners should consider their contribution to an EDD search. If the dog alerts during an actual search, explosives ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel are immediately notified of the location of the alert. EOD will dispose of any suspect devices or objects. Using EDD teams also helps to reduce the potential risk to persons who would otherwise have to do the search without benefit of the dog's superior sense of smell. Neither the MP nor any other person attempts to move, open, or tamper with any object suspected of being an explosive device unless they have been specifically trained to do so.

EDD teams can be useful in many investigations involving almost any type of weapon, ammunition, or explosive. They are particularly useful if there is a need to locate one or more items which may have been hidden in an area.

The most frequent tasks performed by EDD teams are in response to bomb threats against military or civilian resources. The general requirements for providing EDD team support to civil authorities is stated in AR 190-12. However, many units are also using EDD teams in random searches at entry control points, for inspection of troop and family housing areas, and for checks of aircraft and aircraft areas; sensitive or high value equipment storage areas; and mail, baggage, freight shipments, and so forth. The expanded use of EDD teams for these functions presents many of the same legal problems for explosives searches that are characteristic of narcotics detector dog team searches for drugs. Whenever the operational situation may result in the apprehension and possible criminal prosecution of offenders, the procedural and record-keeping requirements defined in AR 190-12 apply to EDD teams. However, compliance with procedural requirements is not to be an obstacle to protecting life and property. The EDD handler is always prepared to establish the EDD team's credibility with training, utilization, and proficiency records.

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