Archive for bond

Handler-Dog Bond

Posted in dogs, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2008 by wardogmarine

B – Believe in the dog
O -Observe the dog

N – Nurture (educate) the dog
D – Depend on one another

The bond that exists between a handler and his dog is so vital that it could mean life or death. Show me a great working dog team and I will show you a bond as strong as could be between a handler and dog. Handlers will spend hours training their dog, but they will spend even more time building rapport and developing trust. The trust that builds is something that cannot develop overnight, it takes time. That is why being a good handler is a big responsibility, some handlers may not be disciplined enough to stay extra hours just to build their relationship with the dog. They train, put their dogs in the kennels, and then head home at the end of the day.

Good handlers will take whatever time is necessary to learn as much as they can about their dog. In time, this relationship becomes so strong that the handler will be able to recognize the mood their dog is in, changes in behavior, and other unforeseen messages and signals the dog is sending that is not seen by anyone else. This is vital to their relationship because the handler will be able to know if there may be something wrong medically, if the dog has detected someone or something, and how the dog may react in any given circumstance. A handler being able to recognize these signals allows the dog to be healthier and want to work harder for their handler which makes them better and overall more efficient.

Overseas the bond becomes stronger than ever because the handler is with the dog everyday all day and night. Back in the states the handlers usually house their dogs at a kennel facility on base. Overseas they are responsible for every aspect of the dog’s life.  Feeding, bathing, health checks, grooming, training, exercise, and many more responsibilities are what the dogs depend on from their handlers. Providing everything they can for their dog is why the dog gives everything they can to keep their handlers lives safe. The dog will do whatever it takes, including giving their own life, to keep those that house and provide for him safe.

Once this bond is established there is a strong sense of comfort and confidence in both the handler and dog making them an efficient and highly dependable dog team.  

On a personal note:
Within one week of my war dog Rex and I being attached to an infantry unit in Iraq, we were out on patrols and on the frontlines. What I find amazing is that although I had never met any of those Marines before, never knew their backgrounds outside the Corps, didn’t know their religions, if they had families, or any of their interests, I knew that I could count on them with their lives and they could count on me as well. It is a brotherhood that goes deep and has been rooted throughout history. An unspoken bond that is unbreakable, and rarely found in society. It’s not just on the field of combat where this brotherhood exists, but also back home, Marines helping eachother in time of need.

Rex was just the same. He was able to recognize that even though he never met the Marines before he was out there protecting them everyday. He, as well as most dogs, had a sixth sense where he knew who was friendly and who wasn’t. I can’t count how many times he would stand in front of or next to Marines as Iraqis came by. The Marines would come to me saying how much safer they felt just by having him around. Being able to witness this is an amazing experience and one every handler treasures.