Not Pets: Highly Trained Military Dogs at the Grand Force Air Force Base

KVRR's Jackie Kelly Travels to the Grand Forks Air Force Base to Learn How They Train Their K9's

GRAND FORKS, ND — People in the military know they sign on for rigorous training and strict discipline.

As KVRR reporter Jackie Kelly found out, even the four-legged soldiers are treated just as equally.

Jackie, along with Chief Photographer Patrick Conteh, traveled to the Grand Forks Air Force Base to learn about training military K9s.

Staff Sergeant Hamilton said his┬áday starts around 4:45 every morning and once he steps in the door, it’s time to feed the dogs.

Even though he is only assigned to one dog, he’s responsible for feeding all because he’s the first one in the door.

“Each dog gets a specified amount of food so we keep them on a very controlled diet for their weight to keep them into the ideal weight range,” said Staff Sergeant Hamilton. “We have this chart that tells us how much food each dog gets. We check the chart every day because sometimes it’ll change.”

After feeding the dogs and cleaning out each kennel, Staff Sergeant Hamilton gets dog Arco ready for the day.

“We’ve got a routine every day,” Staff Sergeant Hamilton said. “He likes to jump up and give me a hug. I used to not let him do this. It’s up to the handler if they do or not, but he’s usually a lot more anxious in the mornings with me if I don’t let him do this. When we go to guard mound, they give us all the briefing of everything going on for the day and any patrols they have to do. Anything that’s going on or anything that happened in the previous shift.”

After the briefing, Hamilton and Arco head out for dorm checks and obedience training.

Part of Arco’s training as an attack dog is to have someone dress up in a bite suit and act as a perpetrator.

“Personally, my favorite thing about it is that I get to be around dogs all day,” Staff Sergeant Hamilton said. “It’s super rewarding. Honestly, the bond you create with the dog, it makes me want to go to work every single day.”

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