The Life of a Military Working Dog on NAF Atsugi
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan – For Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi’s Naval Security Force, man’s best friend is more than just a four-legged furry lovable pet. The canines with the base’s Military Working Dog (MWD) Division are a force to be reckoned with in the protection of the base and are essential to the command mission.
MWDs usually attend training at Lackland Air Force Base (LAFB) in Texas, where they are taught their expectations in the field. Military dog handlers who come through the base are trained to work with the dogs and effectively give them orders.
“The part of the training that interested me the most was the obedience and obstacle course aspect,” said MWD Handler Master-At-Arms Seaman Nicholas Sellers. “The different things that you can train a dog to do blew my mind. The different levels of procedures that you can eventually work the dogs up to is really interesting.”
Although the career of a military working dog begins with basic training, the real training begins at their first command.
A typical day for an MWD and their handler begins early in the morning, ends well into the evening and usually contains plenty of patrols and extensive training. “Lots and lots of training,” said MWD Handler Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Ian Stephenson. “We are constantly training for the next problem, the next threat or just to improve ourselves.”
For the MWDs on NAF Atsugi, tasks can include patrolling the base perimeter internally and externally, doing random inspections in bachelor and family housing, and sometimes just doing a demonstration at an event or for a group of school children. “The dogs are extremely important to NAF Atsugi’s security force,” said Stephenson. “Not a lot of people see what we do on and off base, but they feel the benefits. Anyone who is potentially a threat to the base will see us and they will think twice before they try to take action against us.”