Dogs are by far the most successful animal used in Mine Action and can be trained to sniff out buried mines and explosive remnants of war ( ERW ). They are an invaluable tool in Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) mine and explosives clearance efforts.
When a dog discovers a mine, for example, it stops immediately in front of it, sits down calmly and stares at the ground. In doing so, the dog communicates to its handler that it has found a mine. The mine will then be dug out and removed, carefully and safely, prior to a controlled detonation. The handler rewards the dog by letting it play with a rubber ‘kong’, and this is the dog’s motivation. Safety, of course, is given top priority in NPA. No NPA Mine Detection Dog (MDD) dog has ever been injured or killed by mines or other explosive ordnance.
When working, NPA mine-dogs first deploy in a long-line search, where the handler stands outside the search area. They then proceed to a short-line search, where the handler enters the area which the dog has cleared. NPA is the only organisation to make use of this method.
Dogs are particularly useful for finding mines and ERW where it is difficult to determine where objects may be found or where mines have not been deployed systematically. They are used to delimit suspect areas from areas which are actually mined and to quality-control areas which have been cleared by machines.
find a mine buried at 6 meters
find mines that have been lying buried for over 40 years
can on average find a mine 20 times faster than a deminer using a metal detector
can release 800 square meters of land in a single working day
NPA has its own Mine Detection Dog breeding and training center in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzgovina. For more information see: The Global Training Centre on Mine Detection Dogs