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Dog training

By Sgt. Michael Maddox
First published in
SFOR Informer #92, July 19, 2000

Sarajevo - Many tasks are alike throughout the nations that make up SFOR and the training of military dogs is no exception. During a two-week train-up prior to a demonstration, German, Swiss, French, Italian and U.S. dog handlers learned that while their four-legged friends may understand different languages, they all know how to perform their jobs.

Command Sgt. Maj. Christian Cigolini, kennel master for the French Detair who sponsored the event, said the training serves several purposes
"We are doing a demonstration for all of the people who are a necessity in Bosnia. We have contacted all of the nationalities that work with us for the demonstration," he said. "This type of training keeps the dogs at top performance. The demonstration is just what we can do everyday with a dog. The training is good because no matter what nation we train with it, we work for the same thing, for protection."

"It is to bring all of the nationalities together and to show that even though we have a language barrier, we still speak the same language - the language of the dogs," he added.

Cigolini said the dogs are essential to the mission of the Detair.

"The French use dogs in patrols every night," he said. "Every night we have people that go on patrol everywhere in the airport. The patrol is always three or four men and there is always one dog."

He said the first step to working well with the animals is to build a good relationship.

"To have a dog, you just need to love animals. For the training it's a relationship between me and my dog. We are friends. Everywhere I go I try to have it with me. For the training I always say, 'Yes, it's very good' and afterwards it will do what I want," said Cigolini.

During the training, the soldiers practised many tasks like care and maintenance of the animals, obedience, muzzle attacks to build the dog's aggression, costume exercises with the dogs, vehicle entries, apprehensions and obstacles.
US Staff Sgt. James Samuels said he has enjoyed working with the other country's dog handlers.

"It's been a real eye-opener," he said. "You learn from everyone, from what other people do with their dogs to what happens with your dog and get feedback from four different nations." Other soldiers agreed with Samuels.
"It's very interesting because we can see what the other nationalities do, how they work with dogs. We can compare what we do and what they do," said French Sgt. Eric Abregal. "There is a little bit of difference, but the work is the same."

"The training is very good here. This is no problem. The standard is the same. The only problem is talking, but the rest is very good,” said Swiss Lance Cpl. Bernhard Rolli.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Germany, Italy
SFOR at Work