It was 1941, Hitler’s army in Germany entered Soviet territory and despair seized the Stalin regime, as they did not find an effective way to stop the powerful Nazi tanks, the ‘Panzer Kommandant’, which until then They had overwhelmed all over Europe.
It was then that the training schools of the USSR assume as a priority the use of anti-tank dogs, under the slogan “Our allies…The Soviet Union and the use of war dogs.”
The plan was for the dogs to carry powerful explosives to the bottom of the tanks, where the armor was smaller and more vulnerable. But how to achieve it?
The Soviets resorted to studies conducted by Iván Páblov, creator of classical conditioning, which proposes that, through training, a stimulus can lead to a particular reaction.
Under this premise, ” dogs were starved and, after several days they were fed under a battle car with the engine running,” explains historian and journalist Jesus Hernandez, according to ABC newspaper.
In this way, they got the dogs to associate the noise of the engine and the tanks at mealtime. Every time they heard it, they began to salivate, but they needed them to run to the tanks.
To this end, they resorted to the investigation of Edward Thorndike’s instrumental conditioning, which seeks to reinforce the behavior through a prize. So it was that the dogs began to react as they wanted: they listened to the noise and went straight to the bottom of the tanks because they knew that when they returned they could eat.
The Soviets loaded the dogs with a backpack full of TNT and an ingenious mechanism that allowed the explosives to detach from the animal when it arrives under the armored car. All the dog had to do was bite a rope that would release the load, leave and let his master detonate it with a remote control.
However, many times the animal did not bite the rope. So the strategy was not working out. Then, the Soviet high command decided that it was easier to train them just to go under the tanks. Once there, his master would detonate the charge, destroying the vehicle at the expense of the dog’s life.
So it was that the dogs began to explode under the tanks. Although some refused to approach the enemy and others became disoriented, some 30 tanks destroyed by the ‘bomb dogs’ were counted.
One of the Nazis who experienced this nightmare was Colonel Hans von Luck, who wrote: “Once, when we were going to leave a town, a dog started running towards us. He wagged his tail and groaned. When we tried to capture him, he crawled under an armored vehicle. After a few seconds we heard a “bang” and then a severe explosion. “
“The vehicle was damaged, but luckily the bomb did not cause a fire. We ran to the dead animal and discovered that it had an explosive hook attached that was activated with a detonator with a pin. When the dog crawled under the vehicle, the detonator it hit the bottom and activated triggering an explosion. The dog had been trained to take food under armored vehicles, “he added.
Over time they ceased to be effective, as the Germans began to regard dogs as a serious threat and every time one approached it was riddled.
However, this was one of the methods used by Stalin to gain time and organize his army, which they achieved.
Finally, the Germans were defeated in decisive battles like those of Stalingrad and Kursk in 1942, which meant their failure on the eastern front and the beginning of their definitive fall.
Using these animals as during a conflict is not something of the Second World War. In fact, in the first, hundreds of thousands of dogs were also used as rescue instruments and even as bombs.
In universal history, many times a dog has been the protagonist of incredible stories. Some of them have even been decorated for their work.