NZ working dog seminar a resounding success

A working dog training seminar recently concluded in Trentham after inviting around 170 dog handlers from government and non-government organizations.

PHOTOS PROVIDED

The New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) and New Zealand Police hosted the nine-day seminar.

For the NZDF, Military Working Dogs (MWD) are one of the frontline capabilities and include tasks in explosive detection, tracking, security patrols and more.

Training dogs for these tasks requires an enormous effort from the dog and its handler.

Dutch dog trainer Dick Staal has been training working dogs since 1977 and was invited to lead the working dog seminars.

NZDF’s Working Military Dog Capability Manager Alan Inkpen organized the event and said it was a rare opportunity to bring together a number of New Zealand working dog handlers for a collective benefit.

“Mr. Staal is one of the few trainers in the world who can offer a complete training portfolio for all our capabilities,” said Mr. Inkpen.

“For example, the first sniffer dog seminar was aimed at our explosives detection dogs, but also at other government agencies that use dogs for their own detection purposes.”

The second seminar focused on puppy development, with dogs doing their best in a range of tasks, including imprinting certain scents tailored to the dog’s future role – whether that be detecting illegal narcotics, money or smuggled bananas at the border.

Puppy development is an area where Mr. Steel is different from some traditional techniques.

“(People would) often say that you should train your dog after a year – that’s a big mistake in my opinion,” Mr Staal said.

“You can start training a puppy in a positive way when it is eight weeks old.”

The final seminar, which concluded this week, tested the dogs’ tracking abilities in multiple scenarios, including following a human scent through various grass and hard surface trails.

Internationally recognized police dog trainer Dick Staal demonstrates detection training as part of a working dog seminar with the NZDF, foreign militaries and other NZ government agencies that use working dogs.
Internationally recognized police dog trainer Dick Staal demonstrates detection training as part of a working dog seminar with the NZDF, foreign militaries and other NZ government agencies that use working dogs.

Todd Southall, national coordinator for police dogs, said the seminars were a valuable opportunity to network with other agencies.

“There is virtually every New Zealand working dog organization represented here, as well as representation from the Australian Police and Australian Defense Force,” he said.

It was especially important that members of the ADF were present as it created an excellent opportunity to work with personnel from New Zealand’s closest ally.

“The likelihood that we will be deployed on a mission that will create a coalition between the ADF and ourselves is very high,” Mr Inkpen said.

“That’s where seminars like this help break down those barriers before they’re used in the future – because that interoperability is really important.”

Mr. Staal was impressed by what he saw.

“I see very good working dogs here, so it’s not that they (the keepers) aren’t doing things right, but they might be able to pick up a few extra things here and there to make their dogs even better,” he said.

According to Inspector Southall, that was certainly the case for the police.

“There are little things we’ve picked up here that we’ll introduce – especially around puppy development.

“But overall I think the positive is that we are doing a good job across the board in our training.”

Mr Inkpen agreed, saying it was nice to have their hard work recognized by a leading expert in the field.

“It’s always good to think that we know we’re doing well, but it’s also nice when someone with his knowledge and stature gives us that little bit extra.

“I think sometimes we have to fly the flag and say we are good at what we do.”

.

.






.

.





.

72 Total views 72 views today