On June 01, 2012 renowned combat photographer Adam Ferguson visited Yuma Proving Ground, a site where different military tests are held, situated in Arizona U.S, to gather photos for National Geographic Magazine that is expected to come next spring. YPG trains hundreds of dogs, from birth, along with their coaches, for deploying abroad to other countries as well as training hundreds more for several law enforcement agencies. Chief of the Training and Exercise Management Luis Arroyo explains that YPG is the center for training military canine dogs for different law enforcement agencies, military operations and contingency operations. He also elaborated that nowhere in the world this kind of training is carried out for both dogs and their handlers and preparing them to go into combat situations. YPG trains canine dogs for detecting tactical explosives. In YPG’s kennels, they train dogs in mock villages and terrestrial looking of mock explosives. Adam Ferguson was surprised to see the training terrains that YPG has developed for the full training of canines, involving long patrols. He also added that the trainers know what amount of pressure must be given to both dogs and their handlers to train them and make them fully mission capable. Captain Emily Pieracci, one of the medicals trainers in YPG dog school, tells that there is no better mechanism, than a dog, to find explosives, and to ensure their full capacity of detecting, they must be medically ready to roll. Dogs can detect a smell 100 million times feebler than a human being.
During training in YPG, dogs along with their handlers are deployed to various missions to detect explosives, search mock buildings, villages etc. It is also important that the handler and his dog form a close bond for the best work and outcome. YPG trains its dogs with eight different training programs from different branches of military. These training programs include sniffing roads, making dogs able to detect odor from at least 50 feet, searching villages, vehicles and buildings for explosive devices and also make them to work off the leash. According to Mark Schauer, writer for YPG newspaper, American forces in Afghanistan had to deal with estimated 10 million mines as well as new devices laid down by insurgents. He explains that YPG has enough expertise to train canine for such unforeseen explosive detecting missions, by taking part in stringent training. The common dog breeds that YPG trains is German Shepard and Belgian Malinois.
Captain Emily Pieracci also conjured that not only we train these dogs for detecting explosives but also getting them in the habit of climate, so when they go to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they can successfully hit the explosive and detect it. It is also a crucial fact that the dog’s handler changes with time and it is, therefore, also a part of training to match an experienced dog with an inexperienced handler to build his confidence. Once a canine is returned from mission, they are brought back to YPG dog school for further practice with different handler.