New welfare enhancements for military working dogs

March 04 2019

New welfare enhancements, scientifically proven to improve the living and working conditions of Military Working Dogs (MWDs), are being included in new NZDF kennel facility design standards being drafted by DEI.

High scent flowers, a calming blue hue and classical music are on the cards for our Military Working Dogs (MWDs) when they inhabit their new kennels currently under construction, and being delivered through DEI, at Linton Military Camp. They are also being added to the new kennels at Whenuapai Air Base.

Other welfare enhancements include an irrigation system to provide environmental stimulus and for cooling down in hot weather, greater access to loose exercise runs and additional equipment to mentally stimulate the dogs, such as puzzle food bowls.  CCTV cameras to enable remote monitoring of any new MWDs and those that return from operations are also being installed.

Alan Inkpen, Military Working Dogs Capability Manager – Land, says a lot of work has been carried out by our coalition partners to understand how to reduce kennel stress which has helped inform NZDF’s development of best practices for its canines.

 “Over the last few years there has been a lot more research into animal behaviour and how to identify and manage their stress.  For instance, we now know that dogs suffer from some forms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after returning from an operation.  That was heavily evidenced by the American and British militaries after Iraq and Afghanistan.  When a dog comes back from an operation, they will go into quarantine and then transition through the Unit’s isolation kennels where the CCTV cameras will allow them to be monitored for any signs of PTSD.”   

The new facility at Linton, will be named “Ceaser Lines” after A Company, 4th Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade bulldog mascot Ceaser (external link) . His handler, Rifleman Thomas Samuel Tooman, was assigned to be an Ambulance Driver in World War I and trained Ceaser as a Red Cross Dog to find wounded soldiers on the battlefield.  Ceaser helped save countless lives before being killed in action in the Battle of the Somme. His collar is in the Auckland War Museum and a book, Caesar the Anzac Dog, has been written about him.  

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