Service Member with his Military Dog

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Military Dog Handlers

Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security

Service Branches

  • Army logo
  • Marines logo
  • navy logo
  • Air Force logo
  • Space Force logo

Work Environment

Military dog handlers in the military work both indoors and outdoors depending on their assignment. They may work outdoors while conducting investigations or patrolling facilities.

  • Military Status


  • Average Military Salary



Military dog handlers are in charge of the basic care and training of military working dogs, which are generally used for drug interdiction, locating lost or wanted persons, or bomb-sniffing missions. They perform specialized duties in law enforcement, physical security, anti-terrorism operations, and detection of explosives and/or illicit drugs in the military community, utilizing an assigned military working dog.

Military Training

All enlisted service members complete basic military training which includes time spent in a classroom and in the field and covers tactical and survival skills physical training military life and customs and weapons training.  Military dog handlers will gain skills through classroom study and on-the-job experience. Job-specific training content may include:

  • Military/civil laws and jurisdiction
  • Investigation and evidence collection procedures and techniques
  • Arrest and physical restraint techniques
  • Self-defense and use of firearms
  • Crime scene processing
  • Interpersonal communications skills
  • Search/restraint and custody/control procedures
  • Crime prevention
  • Specialized dog handling techniques

Helpful Attributes

  • Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Interest in law enforcement and crime prevention
  • Willingness to perform potentially dangerous work
  • Ability to judge a situation accurately and react instantly
  • Respect for dogs

Related Civilian Careers

  • Animal Control Workers
  • Animal Trainers
  • Supervisors of Police and Detectives
  • Security Guards

Military working dog handler

Pfc. Brittany Gavit from the 2nd Military Working Dog Detachment at Fort Meade, Maryland, showcases the experience of a military working dog handler. Military working dogs, combined with their handlers, provide the Army with capabilities ordinary Soldiers cannot. Video by Sgt. Ross Mowery & Sgt. Angel Vasquez, Defense Media Activity-Army Media. #SoldierStory

Length 1:31 View Transcript


Pfc. Gavit: Military working dogs are not pets. My name is Pfc. Gavit. I'm a Military Working Dog Handler and my partner's name is Cody. When I arrived at Fort Meade, I got told I was going to get MW Cody. We started building rapport by spending mainly time with him in the first two weeks so he understands that I'm part of his family now - I'm his mom. 

Then, as soon as I gained his trust and his respect that's when we started focusing on obedience and I told him what to do and we started working on issues that we had, but also on making our strengths better.

Cody's ability to smell is like most other dogs because he can intake different odors at the same time. He's able to directly go to the source or tell me where it is and respond to it and then we can find it together.

Military working dogs benefit the Army by being a psychological deterrent. They are able to detect odors that we as humans cannot and they have proven to be better than most machines and have had less failure rates.

Being a Military Working Dog Handler, it can be stressful at times and very physically demanding, but the camaraderie you'll have with the other handlers and the relationship to your dog beats all of it.