The Army K9 Corps came into existence on
March 13, 1942.
Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson signed a letter that officially
allowed dogs to be inducted into the war effort.
These dogs were
trained for the Army's "K-9 Corps," for work both inside and
outside the military.
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor,
Kennel Association and Dogs for Defense encouraged dog owners to donate
animals for the war effort. Around 30 breeds were initially accepted
and later narrowed down to five:
Belgian Sheep Dogs
Initially intended for the Army, in the Fall
Corps program was expanded to include the Coast Guard, Marine Corps and
Navy. The programs began training donated dogs and later on acquired
The first War Dog Reception &
created in Front Royal, VA, Later, additional sites
Camp Rimini, Helena, MT
Cat Island, Gulfport, MS
Fort Robinson, NE
Smaller, temporary centers were established
in Beltsville, MD,
and Fort Belvoir, VA, to train mine detection dogs. Later on, they were
trained in San Carlos.
Basic Training for Military K9
In 1950, a canine basic training course was
set up in
Germany at they Darmstadt School for Dogs.
Dog handlers were also trained and a
developed in July 1943: TM 10-396, War Dogs.
Military dog training took between 8 and 12
included basic commands such as sit, stay and come. Later on they were
exposed to gas masks, gunfire, muzzles and riding in military vehicles.
Once basic training was complete, K9 Corps dogs were selected for one
of four specialized training tracks.
Sentry dogs were trained on short leashes
and taught to give warnings
by growling or barking. Especially helpful in the dark, they
accompanied a military or civilian guard. Sentry dogs
were taught to alert their handler to the approach or presence
of strangers within a protected area.
Patrol Dogs (Scout Dogs)
Scout dogs were trained to work in silence
to detect ambushes, snipers
and enemy forces within a specific perimeter or as point on combat
patrols. Dogs with superior intelligence and a quiet disposition were
selected for patrol dog training. Able to detect threats at up to 1,000
yards, a scout dog would stiffen its body, prick its ears and hold its
tail rigid. The use of these specially trained dogs greatly reduced the
chance of an ambush and also served to boost morale.
Loyalty was an important quality in
Messenger dogs. They had to have
the desire to work with two different handlers. Traveling silently,
they learned to take advantage of natural cover and found their way
using animal intuition and/or by following a trail of body scent. An
extremely effective line of communication, Messenger Dogs carried their
deliveries in a leather pouch around their collars.
Mine Detector Dogs (Mine Dogs)
Also known as M-Dogs, they were taught to
find booby traps, trip wires
as well as metallic and non-metallic mines.
These highly trained dogs served to take the
away from the
enemy. It has been reported in the Pacific theatre that no patrol led
by a war dog was ambushed or fired upon without warning. Contrast this
with dogless patrols which commonly suffered casualties as a result
of surprise attacks.
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