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Skydiving as a K-9 Training Tool

A few weeks ago, scrolling through our Instagram feed, we saw some incredible photos of K-9’s deploying out of a plane. Little did we know, these images would lead us to an organization called Mission Volant (MV), whose work with veterans immediately made us want to get to know them better. If you haven’t read our first article about the amazing work they’re doing, check it out.

Photo Credit: Mission Volant

At Rex Specs, one of our top priorities is making protective eye wear that stands up to the job of military and law enforcement dogs, so when we saw photos of MV skydiving with dogs and using Rex Specs as part of their protection, we had to find out why they were doing it. Turns out it was Third Eye K9, a widely recognized dog training and consulting team, who had decided to get their dogs certified in aerial deployment through MV. The dogs they took jumping are all personal protection dogs -- they aren’t actually dogs that will need to be deployed out of planes on a daily basis...which left us wondering….why do it?

“If a dog can work in a high level of stress, then everyday stuff is mundane,” explained Third Eye K9 owner, Mike Ramirez. “The more experience and knowledge that dog has, the better they are, just like humans.”

Ramirez breeds one or two litters a year and then trains all of the dogs to be working and personal protection K-9’s. His philosophy includes introducing a variety of stressors over time during training, allowing the dog to grow his/her ability to perform in even the most stressful of environments. Ramirez has seen first hand the negative and sometimes dangerous consequences that come when dogs aren't properly trained to handle higher stress situations, which is why he does everything he can to ensure his dogs can handle anything.


Photo Credit: Mission Volant

Ramirez went up in the plane to comfort the dogs and did a tandem dive himself (“I can’t ask my dogs to do something I’m not gonna do,” he told us), but he handed over the dogs to Robbie Hill, MV’s executive director, for the actual jumps. Hill has jumped K-9’s for the military and has extensive experience working with dogs on aerial deployments. Being able to utilize as many handlers as possible increases the training and is part of the process, according to Ramirez. “The more I hand the dogs off, the better,” he said. “It’s communication -- I can hand the lead over and the dog will listen even when put in these high stress situations.”

With the four dogs who did aerial deployments with Mission Volant, Ramirez says the first jump was definitely stressful and confusing, as should be expected. “But by the second jump, it was no big deal,” he said. “They all came down better animals.”


Photo Credit: Mission Volant

Mission Volant has well over 15,000 jumps between their instructor staff, and their diverse skill set, including extensive work jumping military K-9’s, allows them to offer K-9 aerial deployment certifications to companies like Third Eye K9. “We offer the aerial deployment capability to show what the dog is capable of doing and to diversify the skill set of the dog,” said Hill.

The K-9 aerial deployment is available for dog trainers and companies specific to military, working and protection dogs. For more information, visit http://missionvolant.org/contact/.



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