Why the dogs of the Navy SEALs are a force to be reckoned with

Animals have been used in warfare since humans first domesticated them. And dogs are no exception to the rule.

Since September 11, canines have taken on larger and more prominent roles throughout the US military, including within the Navy SEALs.

What’s special about canine units used in the Navy SEALs is the particularity of their training.

All Navy SEAL dogs undergo an intensity of training that matches the difficulties of their human counterparts.

It’s no wonder that these dogs have become vital components of SEAL team units.

Special Operations Forces canines are overwhelmingly chosen from one breed, the Belgian Malinois. Only 1% of candidate dogs make the cut for training.

Flickr/US Navy. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Training is arduous, and it requires dogs to overcome their instincts and develop complete faith in their handlers.

Sound conditioning is another major hurdle the dogs must overcome. They must become fully comfortable working around the sound of gunfire. Here, a handler shoots off blanks to familiarise his dog to the sounds of war.

Flickr/US Navy. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

All dog candidates must also pass through a series of gruelling physical exams, just like their handlers, to ensure their overall health and well being.

Flickr/US Navy. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Hurdles and obstacle courses, built to emulate a combat environment, are the corner stones of training.

Flickr/US Navy. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

'Dogs have been domesticated and bred for so long that the type of dog that is willing to stand up to and fight a human -- a human that is not frightened by that dog and physically capable of disabling that dog -- is a very, very rare animal,' former Navy SEAL Mike Ritland told the New York Post.

Flickr/US Navy. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

A series of exercises are used during training that, aside from further readying the dogs for their combat roles, also build a strong relationship between the handler and his dog. Handlers often refer to themselves as the dogs' 'dads.'

Flickr/US Navy. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

In the field, combat dogs are an invaluable asset. Here, a dog scouts ahead checking for explosives.

Flickr/US Navy. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

The harness has been specially designed by the company K9 Storm, Inc. Aside from allowing parachuting, the harness provides Kevlar body armour for the dog, along with a host of other benefits.

Flickr/US Navy. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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