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Canine Training and Evaluation Section FAQs

Canine Training and Evaluation Section (CTES)

  1. How is the canine trained to find explosives?
    The canines are initially trained by OLE/FAMS Canine Training and Evaluation Section located at Lackland Air Force Base Texas through a conditioning model called "operant conditioning." This model is reward based where the canine is trained to "indicate or respond" to the location of an explosive odor. When the canine responds correctly, it is given a reward that is of great value to the canine, such as a ball, Kong, or toy. This association of explosive odor and reward (for correct responses) is done on a continual basis for hundreds of repetitions until the canine learns "the game."
  2. What is the canine looking for?
    Our canines are looking for a variety of explosive odors that they have been trained to detect. Once the canine identifies the explosive odor, it responds accordingly. Recent scientific studies have indicated that the canine actually uses a "bouquet" of several different components of the explosive to make this determination.
  3. What does the canine do when he finds something?
    Our canines respond in a "passive" manner. Handlers are trained to recognize a distinct change of behavior the canine displays while sniffing the explosives odors.
  4. What is a reward that is given to the canines for their efforts?
    Our canines receive a ball/Kong/toy for identifying the correct location of an explosive and/or training device. The canine actually determines what reward it likes best. In addition, the canines receive physical and verbal praise for its successful find. To the canine, detection work is merely a game of hide and seek. When the canine successfully finds the object (explosive odor) it is looking for, it receives a reward for its efforts.
Latest revision: 12 February 2013