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Military Dog Training Center of the Army

Posted August. 23, 2005 03:28,   


“We are not just ordinary dogs. We are always ready for real situations.”

In the third dog-training center in Yangju, Gyeonggi province in the afternoon on August 22, four shepherds that are going to be dispatched to the Zaytun unit in Iraq three days later are eagerly looking for something around trucks, instruments, and facilities. They are going through their final training for the on-the-job service.

Six-year old “Freezer,” a male dog, found C4 explosive hidden under a military truck in just two minutes. Freezer was rewarded with playing time with rubber balls.

The third dog-training center is one of two military dog-training centers of the army. The center was founded in 1976 and currently trains some 120 dogs. Every year about 70 trained dogs leave the center and around 2,000 military dogs have been produced to date.

Starting at 8:00 a.m. military dogs receive rigorous training such as clearing obstacles, detecting bombs and climbing down ropes from helicopters.

The selection process is strict and the training process is rigorous, but the treatment is special. Contrary to the public knowledge, grades are not given to dogs.

Fostering military dogs starts with raising breeding dogs. Breeds of dogs trained there include German shepherd and Belgium malinois, eight male dogs and 12 female dogs.

They share a four-pyeong room and work out on a treadmill. The training center refused to disclose the price value of the dogs, but they are presumed to be valued at more than 10 million won.

Puppies born by these dogs are registered as military dogs when they become 45 days old and receive “dog numbers” when they become 12 weeks old.

Not all of them are raised to become military dogs for on-the-job service. They go through a three-step rigorous procedure, including analysis of pedigree, evaluation of appearance and training ability, and comprehensive medical training. Usually only one out of four of them become military dogs.

As soldiers have their specialties, military dogs are categorized into four groups: search dogs, chase dogs, warning dogs and detection dogs. When they turn nine to 12 months old, after examination, they receive six-month long basic training and go through seven-month long training according to their specialties.

A medical team led by a veterinarian (a major) cares for dogs with hundreds of millions of won worth of medical instruments such as an ultrasonograph, a blood tester, and an electrocardiogram, to which soldiers do not have access.

Kim Noh-seon (43), a major in charge of training dogs, said, “ We maintain the optimal condition of the dogs through careful management since the military dogs take important tasks in times of emergency.”

Dong-Young Lee argus@donga.com