While at the Living with Animals Conference a few weeks ago, I attended a talk concerning dog training techniques. One dog trainer discussed was a man named Konrad Most, a police commissioner for the Royal Prussian police. He headed efforts in the early 1900s to train dogs for police work. Ultimately, his techniques were applied to military dogs as well and he proved to be the true pioneer of World War I military working dog training. Indeed, Most influenced Lieutenant Colonel Richardson, albeit to a limited degree: Most used more inhumane techniques while Richardson focused on positive reinforcement. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that Most is credited with developing ideas similar to operant conditioning twenty-odd years prior to B.F. Skinner’s work in the same subject.
Where does Most fit into my research? Fortunately, Most published a training manual entitled, Training Dogs: A Manual. I recently requested it from the library’s ILL and I am hoping to receive an English version of it soon (it was originally published in German). Most’s manual will serve as context for Richardson’s work and the development of his techniques during World War I.
Another source I discovered recently is an article published in the journal, Anthrozoos, in 1991 by Elizabeth Lawrence entitled, “Animals in War: History and Implications for the Future.” Though published twenty-four years ago, this article still proves highly relevant to my research. Indeed, Lawrence adds interesting perspective to my preliminary thoughts on the ethical issues of dogs in warfare. I will be adding some of her ideas to a “meaty” footnote in my paper.