Support: March 25, 2003

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Over the last decade, dogs have been found to be easily trained for mine hunting. This is particularly useful because dogs have an easier time finding non-metallic (wood or plastic) mines and work faster than humans with mine detecting equipment. Moreover, dogs are less likely to set off mines, and if they do, you don't lose a person. Shepard type dogs have, so far, been the best at this job. Professional trainers evaluate dogs to see if they have the mental (trainability) and physical (sense of smell) qualities for the work. It takes several months to fully train the dogs and their local handlers. So far, the dogs have only been used for demining non-war zones, but there's nothing to prevent military units from using the same technique. The only possible limitation with military use is that the dogs have to actually search for mines regularly, otherwise they lose their mine hunting skills. This could be taken care of by just repeating the training routines (searching for plastic and metal containers of explosive.) Demining teams use the dogs five or six days a week. The dogs work 6-8 hours a day, searching for 15-30 minutes, then resting for 30 minutes. Trainers test the dogs at least once a month to make sure they are still doing the job right. Some dogs just get tired of hunting for mines and stop performing, but most get used to the routine, and the steady stream of treats and affection they get when they find a mine. The dogs also get an excellent diet and good medical care. Under some conditions, the dogs are less effective. If it is too damp, or in high grass, for example. But overall, the dogs are more effective than any existing technology.

 


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