Four-legged Airmen acclimate to airpower

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By Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Gonterman, 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs / Published July 09, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AFNS) --

The 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog section teamed up with the U.S. Coast Guard to familiarize four MWD's with being in the presence of and flying in a helicopter, June 30, at Air Station Clearwater, Florida.

The experience allowed the handlers to evaluate their four-legged partners' reactions when riding in, as well as, jumping in and out of a helicopter.

Conditioning a dog prior to a deployment is crucial. This reassures handlers they can depend on their partner to perform under hectic circumstances.

"The sound of the chopper is extremely loud, and when this is added to the sensitive hearing of a dog along with the high altitudes, a dog could respond negatively," said Senior Airman Tyler Sexton, a 6th SFS MWD handler. "By exposing a dog to this, we are using successive approximation to get the dog acclimated to the noise and high altitudes. Having a calm dog in combat makes the mission easier and safer."

Of the four working dog teams in the training session, two had never been around helicopters.

Sexton, who coordinated the training with the Coast Guard, stated that this was the first time the 6th SFS MWD section conducted training with Coast Guardsmen -- but will not be the last. Due to the positive feedback, future training has already been scheduled to expose the remaining seven dogs to the loud noise and high altitude training.

The MWD section at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, is known for conducting training with various agencies, from local police departments to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Looking outside of the box when it comes to training is not only fun but also a good learning experience for both agencies," Sexton said. "The more we share tactics and training, the better we will all be."

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