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Cute RAAF pups transformed into top military dogs

ELITE CANINES: Corporal Samantha Luck with one of the puppies bred as part of the RAAF dog breeding program.
ELITE CANINES: Corporal Samantha Luck with one of the puppies bred as part of the RAAF dog breeding program. Rob Williams

TURNING a cute puppy into a tough military working dog doesn't happen overnight. It's a long process that involves care and hard work.

The Air Force breeding program is based at RAAF Base Amberley and is responsible for breeding and training puppies destined to become military working dogs.

These dogs play a vital role in security and ground defence support in the Australian Defence Force.

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Corporal Samantha Luck is a military working dog handler in the canine breeding section at RAAF Base Amberley.

"We basically look after the mums as well as organising pedigrees and bloodlines and what dog we should put over what mum to produce what we perceive as good genetics for military working dogs," Corporal Luck said.

"We've got certain bloodlines here that we try to go for.

"We source dogs and semen from overseas for an introduction of new bloodlines into Australia as well as our own MWDs because they obviously have the bloodlines that we've been previously using. They've got the temperament, the genetics, the hip and elbows and the health that we want to be in a military working dog.

"We've got the dogs all through Australia at the air force bases - the security force squadrons - and we use those dogs, we'll fly them back up here and they'll have health assessments done and hip and elbow scores done.

"Once they're identified as a good sire, we'll then choose a mum that we have here that we believe their genetics and temperament will go good together."

About 80 pups a year are born at Amberley and again it's a team effort to help make sure the whelping goes well.

"It's through experience and training that everyone has had collectively that we deal with that," Corporal Luck said.

"Obviously any issues we go straight to a vet but the majority of whelpings we handle here.

" As the mum goes into labour we're here monitoring them and seeing if they need a hand, give the pups bottle feeding if they need that little bit of extra help.

"Then from about six weeks of age, once they've had their injections, we take them out and start exposing them to different things to start their training."

That includes environmental exposures such as noises and socialisation with humans as well as other dogs and animals.

Then there's introducing dogs' instinctive inclinations such as the prey drive of a carnivore to find, pursue and capture prey and to bite.

"We'll expose them to tennis balls, rags, and just make them bold and confident so they can then go out into foster care so they can develop further as they get older," Corporal Luck said.

"Every dog is given the exceptional work and every opportunity to make it to the next level."

Topics:  on the radar puppies raaf



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