By
Su Yim
Social Media Specialist
Professional Performance Development Group

Military Working Dogs have been used by the U.S. Military since WW I. Dogs were first enlisted by the Army Quartermaster Corps (to guard storage houses), and a diversity of breeds were accepted initially (even French Poodles served). However, once dogs gained experiences with various militaries of the world, the German Shepherd and the Doberman merged as the standard dog breed for military service worldwide. Today, friendlier and familiar breeds like Labrador Retrievers have joined the proud line of military dogs that served honorably. Regardless of their classification and breed, these four-legged heroes have saved countless lives and casualties since the beginning of their Military Service and they continue to do so today.

PPDG is proud to have been part of challenging military dog training tradition. Seven Professional Performance Development Group team members trained several groups of puppies for both military and government duties. Costing up to $25,000 per each puppy, PPDG first purchased all these puppies from the overseas. Then, three PPDG team members started to train Labrador Retrievers at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX for TSA. Labradors were best suited to explosives detection as they are smart and widely accepted by the public. Each breeding dogs went through extensive physical training while numerous behavioral testing was performed. Once puppies reach 9 weeks of age, they are “fostered out” to volunteer “puppy walkers”. These lucky volunteers bring the puppies into their homes to their families for the next ten months. Then each month, the puppies are brought in for evaluation, with formal testing at 3, 6, and 9 months. Puppy walkers are encouraged to expose the puppies to various environments and lots of activities since successful puppies will be exposed to crowds, noises, and tight spaces (like in airports). PPDG has successfully trained litters of puppies for TSA in 2004.

The other group of four PPDG employees at Lackland Air Force base trained Belgian Malinois puppies for the Department of Defense. These puppies were also being raised for explosives/chemical/biological detection like the Labrador Retrievers, but they also served as patrol dogs. Belgian Malinois are a perfect fit for these duties as their adaptability as herding dogs gave them a tenacious nature. While a lot more “feisty” than the Labs, once you get to know them, they are still a friendly breed that easily fit into a family with kids. Interestingly, this trait also makes the Belgian Malinois a patrol dog as well. This program also ran differently as DoD only fosters these puppies out for seven months old and they undergo more intensive obedience and basic patrol training while at the base. Perhaps “Doggie boot camp” is more appropriate in their training.

This contract was one of the most challenging yet rewarding assignments for PPDG. Initially started in 1998, PPDG dog trainers and these valiant dogs have provided invaluable services to our country, protecting our country from harm’s way. These four-legged heroes were way more than our companions. In many cases, they stood alongside our servicemen and women in combat zones, where they displayed the same loyalty and responsibility we value in them at home.

We salute you, Private Pooch-for everything that you’ve done for our nation.