How to train K9 dogs?

How To Train Your Dog To Military Standards

Did you know the CIA has its own dedicated staff of dog trainers? K-9 officers are an important part of our Security Protective Service (SPS), which ensures the CIA and its employees are kept safe. The trainers, all SPS officers themselves, work with a select group of dogs and handlers to teach them the ins-and-outs of explosives detection. Dogs have a remarkable ability to sniff out over 19, 000 explosive scents, making them ideal for this job.

Dogs chosen for the Agency training course are hand selected by CIA trainers primarily from “Puppies Behind Bars, ” a program that pairs inmates with puppies to teach the dogs basic commands. Most of the Agency K-9s are Labradors, known for their intelligence and—most importantly—their unwavering good temperament. The dogs go through a six-week “imprinting” class, where they learn to identify thousands of explosive scents, and are then carefully matched with a CIA SPS K-9 handler. The dog and handler undergo an additional 10 weeks of intense one-on-one training, learning to work together as a team to find explosives in things such as cars, trucks and luggage. Once they pass the final test, the teams are deployed to sites throughout the world, working as the first line of defense against explosive threats to Agency personnel and buildings.

Although our Agency dogs are trained for very specific jobs, many of the methodologies and principles our trainers use can be applied to training any dog, including your own. Below are 10 tips from our CIA K-9 trainers that we hope you’ll find useful, as well as some examples highlighting how these methods are used to teach some of the best explosives detection dogs in the world.


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