Air Force One K-9 detail and Luciano Aguilar -

Building an unbreakable bond with your dog

Luciano Aguilar began his dog training career guarding the President of the United States as a member of the Air Force's Elite K-9 Squad. Before becoming America Now's pet pro, Luciano served as a staff sergeant on the 89th Security Forces Squadron … the unit charged with protecting Air Force One. Today, Luciano travels to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.; where the plane that transported seven U.S. Presidents around the world is now on permanent display.

"Believe it or not, I was terrified of dogs when I was a kid," says Luciano. "I never imagined I'd grow up and serve five years on the Air Force One K-9 detail. And I loved every minute of it. I worked with a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd named Chuck, and what we learned together can be applied to anyone who wants to train their dog. Now that I'm a civilian, I didn't think I'd ever be so close to this beautiful 707 again. Seeing it again brings back some very fond memories of when I was taught to train and handle dogs."

Luciano's dog-training career began back in the spring of 2000 when he spent three months at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. That's where the Department of Defense Military Working Dog School is located. He was taught how to train dogs to attack on command and detect explosives and narcotics -- but first, Luciano says he had to learn how a dog thinks, feels and responds to humans.

"No matter what you want to teach a dog to do, there are three fundamental training principles that are important to understand to be successful," Luciano explains. "The first thing you must do is bond with your dog. Your dog will not want to do anything for you if there is no bond. So, establishing and maintaining a good rapport with your dog is critical for effective training."

A good way to bond with your dog is going on long walks together. A dog likes and thrives on exercise. He also likes seeing and smelling new things. It's exciting for him. And if you're the one who's taking him on these great adventures, he'll associate you with something positive. Grooming is another good bonding technique. Brushing your dog puts you in direct physical contact with his body.

The second training principle has to do with how you use your voice. Your dog will pick up on the tone of your voice, so you want to use it to your advantage. Whenever you give your dog a command, you want to use a neutral tone. It should sound routine and matter-of-fact. You're calmly communicating what's expected of him.

When your dog performs the way you've commanded him to, you want to use a high-pitch tone. It lets your dog know he did a good job and that he pleased you. And pleasing you pleases him.

You want to save your deep and harsh tone for when your dog does something bad. Saying something like "BAD!" let's your dog know he has dissatisfied you. And if you and your dog have a strong bond, he's not going to want to disappoint you in any way.

The third training principle is about reading your dog's body language. By keeping an eye on your dog's movements and expressions, you'll be able to correct missteps before they become learned behavior. Dogs don't lie or keep secrets. If you're tuned in to what your dog is saying with his body language, the more control you'll have in your training sessions.

"I use everything I learned in the Air Force about training and handling dogs each and every day. Working with military dogs gave me an amazing foundation for the canine work I now do as a civilian. And I'm thrilled to share what I know with you here on America Now," concludes Luciano.

Watch more of Luciano's training techniques here.

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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