Thursday, May 23, 2024

Working dogs seminar a howling success

A seminar on training working dogs wrapped up at Trentham recently, with around 170 dog handlers from Government and non-Government organisations taking part in the 9-day training event.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and New Zealand Police hosted the seminar.

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

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

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

“Mr Staal is one of the few trainers around the world able to offer a complete training portfolio across all of our capabilities,” he said.

“For example, the first detection dog seminar was targeted towards our explosive detection dogs, but also other government agencies that use dogs for their own detection purposes.”

The second seminar focused on puppy development, which saw dogs put through their paces on a range of tasks, including how to imprint particular smells geared to that dog’s future role – whether that be to detect illegal narcotics, money or smuggled bananas on the border. 

Puppy development is an area where Mr Staal’s training methodology differs from some traditional techniques.

“[People would] often say that you have to train your dog after one year; that in my opinion is a big mistake. You can start training a puppy when it is eight weeks old in a positive way,” said Mr Staal.

The final seminar, which wrapped up this week, tested the dogs’ tracking abilities across multiple scenarios, including following a human scent through various grass and hard surface tracks.

National Coordinator for Police Dogs, Inspector Todd Southall said the seminars were an invaluable opportunity to network with other agencies.

“There’s pretty much every New Zealand working dog agency represented here as well as representation from Australian Police and the Australian Defence Force (ADF),” he said.

Latest Articles