From detecting narcotics and explosives to tracking enemy and launching an attack on the command of their handlers, the canines are getting specialised training here at Punjab Home Guard Canine Training and Breeding Centre (PHGCTBC). Located at Sundraan village near Derabassi in Mohali district, the centre is currently training 28 dogs of Punjab Police. A US-based trainer, Micheal G Morgan, is training these dogs, including German Shepherds and Laboradors, with specific skills. The minimum tenure of a training course is 80 days.
The trained canines from this centre have served the security forces as and when required. In November 2016, when a team of Narcotics Control Bureau, Chandigarh, received secret inputs about smuggling of opium in a Volvo bus, senior officers decided to take assistance of two sniffer dogs from this centre. They were quick enough to detect the contraband hidden in the soles of shoes of one of the peddlers.
The canines were also deployed at various places across Punjab during 2017 Assembly polls. The canines trained here have also proven quite effective in the border areas in joint exercises conducted by the Punjab Police and Border Security Force to detect narcotics.
Besides sniffing narcotics, three more courses are being taught to these canines here these days. These include how to guard a specific area/ object assigned to it, or track and attack the enemy.
Talking to Chandigarh Newsline, Morgan said, “We focus on the ability of dogs to detect. A dog/bitch can perform well in detection of narcotics and explosives. At the same time another dog can perform well while tracking a terrorist, murderer and robber from the smell of his clothes. It depends on the instincts of canine and the training imparted to it. We have designed our training module in such a way that a canine must be expert in all these four aspects: detection, attack, guard and tracking.”
Morgan is a US-based certified dog trainer and has trained dogs for the US Army, and in various other countries, including Philippines and Brazil.
An interpreter is attached with Morgan so that he can communicate his lessons to the dogs’ handlers in a proper manner.
Morgan adds, “The success of a canine is not only his. A lot depends on it’s handler too, who plays a crucial role in the final results. Species like German Shepherd, Labradors and Doberman follow the command of their specific handlers only. If you change their handlers, it shall not be easy to get the desired results.”
In his training curriculum, Morgan has also replaced concept of “play reward” with “food reward” as it is used in the western countries for training tracker dogs. “In play reward, a dog is given his favourite object to play once it completes its task. Contrary to it, in food reward, the dog is given its favourite food on successful completion of the task.”
The centre that was started in April 2016 is a semi-government initiative in Punjab and 47 acres of land was earmarked for it at Sundraan village. “Since its inception, the centre has also trained personal dogs of a few top businessmen of the country besides training the canines for state police authorities and paramilitary forces. For instance, Mukesh Ambani’s Belgian Malinois called Angaar was also trained here,” said Simratpal Singh, also known as Newton Sidhu who is managing the centre currently.