SAN LUIS, Colo. (CBS4)- War dogs have been getting a lot of attention following the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, and their importance is crucial.

“They’re considered a member of the team,” said Close Quarter Battle K-9 School owner Alex Dunbar.

Dunbar trains German Shepards from Slovakian blood for the military, police forces, and for personal protection. His training site is in southern Colorado, just south of the small town of San Luis.

“It’s almost the same topography and elevation as Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Dunbar, who is also an ex-Marine.

When SEAL Team 6 raided Bin Laden’s compound, they had a dog with them.

These dogs are trained to wear breathable body armor to protect from attacks and shrapnel. They are also outfitted with a camera on their head to stream live video to soldiers in other positions.

Dunbar says the dogs are the first to go in to an unknown situation. The animals may be looking for bombs, booby traps, or their target. He thinks there’s a good chance Bin Laden first came eye-to-eye with a canine.

Dunbar said training is conducted day and night, including tracking, intelligence work, and drills to build strength and endurance. A dog trained for the military needs to be able to swim, parachute out of a plane with a soldier, keep calm, and be quiet.

One of Dunbar’s dogs had a titanium tooth, something he says gives the dog extra grip, and packs more of a punch.

“It’s like being crushed by a train. It’s just incredible how much pressure,” said Dunbar.

Titanium teeth are sometimes inserted into canines by military or police forces for medical reasons. One expert we spoke to said with all the bite work these dogs do, their teeth can wear down or break. Damage to teeth can affect their smell, which is just as important. Their ability to sniff out an explosive, or track a target can be invaluable.

Although the training is tough, Dunbar said his dogs probably eat better than most people. When they’re not doing missions or training, they’re also very docile. While the enemy might see them as machines of war, Dunbar sees them as man’s best friend.


Comments (10)
  1. Jo O'Rourke says:

    I’ve known and worked with Mr. Dunbar since 2000-, although we train different breeds of dogs from each the other person. I’ve always found him to be above reproach in his business dealings and how he cares for his dogs. Additionally, I’ve had his dogs on my property for training or just to come play with my kids. He is correct: a well-trained personal protection dog should be social but capable and willing to go to work instantly.

    Working K-9 perform a variety of tasks beyond the usual 3 the public thinks of: Tracking, EOD or narcotics detection. Some jobs are inherently more difficult or stressful so the poster is correct in that *some* K-9 do develop symptoms of PTSD following particularly difficult missions. However, these dogs are soldiers in every sense of the definition. They are provided medical care should that become a problem. Alex and other trainers work with K-9 that suffer from PTSD to help them adjust to a life of retirement, or rehabilitate them for working at other tasks which are less stressful.

    Thank you for writing about the unsung heros of war: The K-9 teams.

  2. finstabelized says:

    AWESOME! I think you are doing a great job by training in a similar environment that they would be likely to encounter if they are purchased by the military and/or civilian contractors.

    I’d like to take this opportunity to say, to you, “Thank you”, for your sacrifice and your service in the Corps. Because, like you, your hard work is another thankless job, as are many others. I appreciate your contribution to our troops and the nameless others that serve and protect out great nation.

    Keep up the good work Alex. While others may not give credit where credit is due, I say, don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. I;m embarrassed for some (K-9 Sheba #1955) that shoot down and make knee-jerk remarks from just a few quick seconds of a short video shoot.

    I spent 10 yrs in US ARMY EOD, and have worked extensively with these impressive animals. During that time I’ve heard CQB K-9 mentioned on more than one occasion, in a good light.

    Keep up the good work, Alex. Some of us do appreciate what you are doing.

  3. Joey D says:

    “Great Job” the assistance of a K-9 dogs allows for a partnership to create a higher level of success and apprehension of the bad guys. These dogs with their exceptional senses (bomb, drug, human tracking, defensive, offensive training) allow the handler to save lives, and take down the bad guys before they can take additional lives. Keep up the training so we can stop the unnecessary slaughter of our global citizens.

  4. Michael Fair says:

    Sacrificial pets! They die first, then soldiers go in. Why not?

  5. BlueLine says:

    Kudos to Mr. Dunbar and all other K9 trainers for everything they do for our military and police. These dogs are life-savers and often can get into places and do things that are either too dangerous or simply not possible for humans. K9s are more than just Man’s Best Friend. They are fearless and dedicated to both their job and their handlers.

    As for poster, “doublespeek”, apparently you are unaware that dogs that are trained privately for military and police receive secondary training once they reach their destinations. The military has just as strict -if not MORE strict – a policy on the dogs they recruit as the humans they recruit and if there were any obvious character flaws in the dog mentioned in your article, they would have been found during the screening process. Your comment was off-topic and tacky, and makes it look like you have a personal vendetta against Mr. Dunbar.

    1. hidden cost (formerly doublespeak) says:


      Im sorry if I gave off that impression. I do not know Mr. Dunbar personally and that was not my intention.

      I just wanted to point out that even dogs experience PTSD from war, and even with soldiers, this damage/trauma/non-physical wounds seemed like something that should be mentioned, amidst the congratulations and respect.

      Almost like a respect in acknowledging the unspoken ugly side of war. I’m not sure if any training can prevent PTSD though, maybe mitigate it to some level though, but i am saddened by people and dogs returning kind of broken, and do see there is a price to pay to some level.

      I do understand if this comment may be unrelated to this article, but it does for me.

      Thank you for your understanding and for calling out my response if it seemed hostile and needed more clarification, impeccability.

  6. doublespeek says:

    It seems these dogs, even when trained for war, experience PTSD as well.. I wonder if Gina, the German Shepard mentioned in the article cited, was trained at the San Luis Valley place mentioned in this article.

  7. whirled peas says:

    Yuk. War is bad for people & dogs. It only serves the ego of the powerful.

  8. K-9 Sheba #1955 says:

    Self serving article / Story for Mr. Dunbar??? There are many former K-9 Handlers / Trainers throughout the US. Don’t “glamorize” a Temporary Pen for a working kennels to “associate” them with SPECOPS. Kuddo’s for Seal Team 6 augmenting & utilizing the K-9 Team. From the story~pics looks like a startup kennels. This was the best you could come up with to “highlight” our War Dogs? Visit Fort Carson or the Air Force Academy Military Working Dogs Kennels, or visit Fort Robinson (Nebraska) online. They will provide better credible information… Sorry CBS 4 ~Disappointed. ~US Army MP K-9 (P-7/A-9/Z-6 Certified)

    1. Petr Spurny says:

      well,100% agreed. TV stations should do little bit of a research before they go live with such so called “K-9 handlers”!!!! How? Simply have this guy to show you how to train simply task before listening his idiotic stories about “special” training!!! This guy has no idea how to train a dog and all this this is about is advertisement..I’m am from former Czechoslovakia and know dogs and kennels back there, but they don’t have anything to do with this guys! Shame on you CBS, he’s a disgrace of Kynology!

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