Changes introduced in the Regional Mine Detection Dog Center

{gallery}newsletters/8/3/1{/gallery}Due to lack of finances in the state budget, the respectable Regional Mine Detection Dog Center – MDDC) in Borci near Konjic is soon to become a non-governmental organization.

Founded with help from the international community, the MDDC has been active since early 2003 as a response to the increasing needs for enhancement in demining methods in the region. However, its activities have recently spread to other parts of the world as well.

Iraq, Azerbaijan, Angola…

The MDCC is authorized to conduct training of dogs in detection of drugs, explosives, provision of border police, ministry of internal affairs and civil protection services, aiding the physically challenged, and detection and rescuing of people. The Center PR manager Marija Trlin has presented to us their activities and informed us that the MDCC will not for much longer be under the auspices of the BiH Council of Ministers.

Along with the training of dogs and people, the MDDC has also been providing services of support to demining operations in the region and wider through engagement of its dogs, which have acquired experience in demining operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Iraq. The Center has trained dogs and trainers for work in Azerbaijan, and at the moment, they are being trained for deployment in Angola.

Beside its basic training activities, the MDDC rents its dogs to other organizations, participates actively in the work of the South-East Europe Mine Action Coordination Council, participates in a program aimed at warning children of the danger mines present, provides support to a project offering help to mine victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, proposes technical and security standards for the use of dogs and organizes thematic workshops and seminars.

Trainers/instructors at the MDDC have been educated in the USA. They are today among the best dog trainers in the region and wider. In its 6-year-long existence, the MDDS has trained over 150 dogs for various purposes and a number of supporting staff. The MDDC owns high quality accommodation capacities for people attending training and the dogs being trained (indoor and outdoor kennels, veterinary dispensary, big training grounds, etc).

{gallery}newsletters/8/3/2{/gallery}Prior to the commencement of training, the MDDC trainers carefully select dogs. There are numerous requirements a dog has to meet in order to be selected for the training. The wish to catch a ball is one of the prerequisites for successful training of all sorts of service-providing dogs.

Interest and focus, strong physique, ability to sniff and search for prey, sociability and behavior when around people are some of the requirements that need to be met by the selected dogs. The MDDC usually opts for German, Belgian or Dutch Shepherds and Labradors (for detection of drugs and explosives). A dog’s age is also one of the selection criteria. Optimal age limit is between 13 and 18 months. Depending on the purpose, the training of dogs is the same in early phases, but later separates completely according to goals and duration.

Training in phases

Training of dogs is, generally, conducted in the following phases:

– development of dog’s wish to look for objects through sniffing,
– obedience and focus development
– establishing connection between the scent of a ball and that of an explosive (drugs)
– locating scent outdoors and indoors
– teaching the dog to respond to indication correctly – by sitting down
– teaching the dog search methods
– integration with the guide

The training of dogs varies according to its purpose and duration. Due to their harsh working environment, the training of mine detection dogs lasts between 6 and 8 months, while other trainings take a little shorter. A mine detection dog searches the ground in a box in straight lines in both directions, and upon any indication the dog sits down and waits calmly for its guide to take it out of the box and reward it.

Police dogs are more energetic, they search vehicles, buildings, people and anything else that might hold an explosive or drugs. Reaction to indication is again sitting down calmly, without scratching. Training dogs in attacking (for purpose of maintaining public peace and order) also requires a high level of obedience, reaction to shots, attack directed towards a group of people in closed space and with various distractions.

Upon completion of training and integration with a guide, which is also very important in creating a good and synchronized team, the MDDC tests the dogs and issues training certificates.



Photo: MDDC