New NPA Dog Training Centre opens in Cambodia
NPA is delighted to announce that a new Dog Training Centre in Siem Reap, Cambodia was officially opened on 6 May 2016. The Dog Training Centre, will breed and train dogs to search for mines, cluster munition remnants and other explosive remnants of war (ERW), to aid survey and clearance efforts. Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) and Explosive Detection Dogs (EDDs) are an important component of an operational toolbox for efficient land release, and it is expected that the Dog Training Centre will become a leading provider of dogs to mine action operators.
Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and are able to distinguish between explosives and scrap metal, making them more efficient than manual metal detectors. This is very important in former battlefields. As mine action operators and national authorities become increasingly aware of the benefits of using dogs for mine and explosives detection, the demand for MDDs and EDDs is growing.
NPA’s centre in Siem Reap primarily specializes in training EDDs and Technical Survey Dogs, which NPA has helped develop and customize to address the cluster munition contamination issue in the South-East Asia region. Technical Survey Dogs are capable of efficiently searching large areas of land for explosives. Fitted with a camera, global positioning system (GPS) and headset, Technical Survey Dogs search for explosives without a lead and through thick vegetation.
This speeds up the process of clearance by targeting costly clearance resources to areas that are truly contaminated, quickly releasing areas that are safe back to communities. Technical Survey is the most challenging search technique for dogs and only a small percentage of dogs will have the right set of characteristics to be trained effectively in this technique.
The dogs are trained using standard operational procedures, and search patterns are tailored to fit the mission. The dogs trained at the centre will be capable of a variety of different search techniques for mine detection operators, enabling deployment globally for different tasks.
The Dog Training Centre currently has 10 dogs in training, five puppies, and four dogs deployed in NPA operations in Ratanakiri province, Cambodia. NPA uses Belgian Malinois dogs as they are strong, shorthaired, and have a robust hunting instinct. Each dog is subject to strict selection criteria based on their characteristics and to a high intensity physical training program to maintain the strength required to work in the field.
In 2016, the Dog Training Centre plans to deploy 10 dogs, and breed and train three litters. NPA dog specialists begin training the dogs as puppies, and the dogs are taught to detect their toy ‘Kong’, which is their life-long reward. By 18 months of age the dogs are fully trained and can detect microscopic pieces of explosives in an open field environments, with identical conditions to a real hazardous area.
NPA places high importance on maintaining the health and wellbeing of the dogs, and international standard veterinary care and specialized dietary plans are provided. NPA is a global expert in detection dog training drawing on its many years experience in deploying dogs around the world from the NPA Global Training Centre in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Aksel Steen-Nilsen, country director of NPA Cambodia says “NPA is now able to provide fully trained dogs to NPA programmes as well as other mine action operators around the world inclusive of a support package of transfer, follow-up, and monitoring.”