Page 21 - Chiron Spring 2018
P. 21

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Training
On having spent 9 years at 1st Military Working Dog Regiment (1MWD) I was told about going to the Defence Animal Training Regiment (DATR). I didn’t really believe it at first, the saying is “don’t believe it until JPA states”.
On arrival at DATR in October 2017 I was assigned to the Courses Support Section. This section maintains 50 Military Working Dogs (MWDs) to the correct level for all courses delivered at DATR as well as a small section of dogs as part of the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL) project. I was lucky enough to be assigned to the DSTL project, working with the military’s scientists and training their dogs that are at the DATR.
On meeting the DSTL team for the first time I met one of the scientists, who has been on the project for a few years with the 6 dogs; Fonz; Nemo; Bolt; Jess; Snipe and Tessa. The dogs are different breeds and have very different personalities when worked. working with the DSTL team was great and I learned about the subtle and complex evaluation methods they use to study our MWDs’ olfactory capability. The dogs already know how to indicate i.e. perform a behaviour which lets the handler know it has found the scent for example, lying down next to the pot. The delivery of the toy would be held off until the dog
By LCpl Lee Carless, Courses Support Section
indicates. This whole process is known as scent imprinting and is the basis behind the DSTL Project here at the DATR. Once the dog is finding the target scent, we would then put distracting scents into the other 7 pots on the line. This can be latex gloves, cotton wool, toothbrush, and food, anything that the dog is more likely to want, or associate a target scent with in an operational environment. The practice behind this is to make sure the dog is only finding the target scent and not indicating on associated or distracting scents.
As the project progressed, certain dogs had more target scents than others. 2 out of the 6 dogs had to learn 8 scents, where the others only needed to learn 4. Dog names were drawn out of a hat and poor Jess, our Cocker Spaniel, drew one of the short straws and had to learn all 8. She can struggle sometimes, but surprised the whole team with how quickly she learnt her scents. When she went through the testing stage she was the best performing dog. This made me very proud as she worked hard all the way through. This all culminated in a big testing period for every dog in February. They were tested on over 40 scents each! The dogs performed admirably and did the handlers proud, showing the power of a dog’s nose.
Another part of the Project is to teach
the dogs to perform searches of a given area supported by a drone. Stuart, the DSTL team’s Drone Pilot, would be flying the drone as part of his experiments to find out ways where the drone can be utilised alongside Operations with a Military Working Dog. Using the drone has proved to be particularly useful when utilising the dogs out of sight for a period of time. In a normal circumstance without a drone, this can be dangerous as the handler can’t see what the dog is doing, or be able to react to any developing threat to the dog. The drone is fitted with a camera and the pilot has a screen that has a live feed, literally giving handlers an eye in the sky. This could really benefit the Dog Team, as it minimises danger to the handler and the dog can be monitored at all times.
We all went on a demonstration to the RSME Symposium Chatham Barracks to show the dogs working and going out of sight, whilst the drone was in operation. This Capability Demonstration was delivered to many VIP’s and gave a small taste as just how good this would be if this was pushed out the wider Military Working Dog environment. However it is all practice and we are constantly learning new ways to advance the Military Working Dog capability.
 Within a dog’s horizontal ear canal there are numerous glands producing wax that lubricates and protects the inner ear. In normal circumstances, the ear is self- cleaning using a process called epithelial migration, where skin cells move along the horizontal then vertical ear canals. This natural cleansing mechanism keeps the amount of wax at a level which is unlikely to cause problems.
However, in some dogs the process of self-cleaning is insufficient and can cause excessive wax to accumulate in the horizontal ear canal. This build-up of wax can increase the chances of a dog getting an ear infection.
There are three categories of ear disease in dogs: Otitis Externa, Media and Interna relating to inflammation of the external ear canal (including the vertical and horizontal sections), the middle ear and inner ear respectively. In order to prevent the occurrence of ear disease in dogs prone to the accumulation of wax, it becomes necessary to clean the dog’s ears on a regular basis.
Active dogs, Labradors and Spaniels at more risk
Otitis Externa affects all breeds of dog and at any time. The four main causes are atopy (skin hypersensitivity to allergens), food allergy, parasites and foreign bodies, such as grass seeds. Clearly, active
dogs that are exposed to more stressful environments are at greater risk from parasites and foreign bodies.
In addition, Labradors and Spaniels have more wax producing glands so produce excessive wax and are more predisposed to ear infections. Excessive moisture is another key factor, so dogs that enjoy frequent swims are also at greater risk.
What should you do?
If your dog is scratching their ear more frequently than normal, then there is a
good chance of an ear infection or a foreign body. Dermatology specialist, Vetruus, recommends a three-stage approach to ear cleaning from an initial ear flush, a stand-alone measure for early stage problems and maintenance to help prevent relapse.
Our article on ear cleaning will be published in the Autumn issue of Chiron Calling, or if you would like further details now, you can email us for a leaflet at or call us on 01494 629979
Why should I clean my dog’s ear?

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