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Elementary Instant Lesson™

Demining Dogs

Pre-Reading Activities
A:  Picture / Discussion

Today's article is about dogs. Answer the questions.

Picture 1

1. What do you know about dogs?
2. What sort of 'jobs' do dogs have?
3. Why are dogs used in these jobs?

Today's article is also about land mines. Here is a picture of landmine.

Picture 2

1. What do you know about land mines?
2. Why are there land mines?
3. Why are they dangerous?
4. Which countries still have land mines?
5. How can landmines be removed?


B: Vocabulary

1. Look at the words below. Do you know any of them? Match each word with one of the pictures from Activity A (Picture 1 or Picture 2). Do you think of Picture 1 or Picture 2 when you read this word?

training, battle, danger, explosives, sense of smell

2. Check your answers in your dictionary. Learn the meanings of any words you do not know.


Reading Activities
A: Paragraphs

Read today's article below. There are five paragraphs in today's article. Match the paragraphs with their correct summaries below.

__ a. What kinds of dogs are used to find land mines.
__ b. What a dog does when it finds a mine. What a good demining dog is like.
__ c. Why there are landmines in Thailand.
__ d. Eight dogs finished their demining training in Thailand.
__ e. How handlers encourage their dogs to look for mines.

Dogs Graduate from Demining School

1. PAK CHONG, Thailand Thursday August 2(Reuters) - Eight dogs have finished their difficult training. They are part of Thailand's battle to get rid of land-mines.

2. The eight dogs were trained to recognize the smells of the most common explosives and taught to search small plots of land to find mines. The dogs are Alsatians, Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois.

3. They are taught to sit beside a mine when they find one. This reduces the danger to themselves and their handlers. "A dog is one of the many tools in demining.... but they make it safer for everybody else," said instructor Jerry Alonzo, who has trained dogs to demine in the Balkans, Mozambique and Nicaragua. He said a keen sense of smell, good temperament and healthy love for balls are very important for a good demining dog.

4. The dogs are given a rubber ball every time they find a mine. Their handlers said it was the best way to motivate them.

5. Wars and unrest in neighboring Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have left about 1,000 sites in Thailand with anti- personnel and anti-tank mines in them, according to a 2001 survey.



demining -
taking mines away from an area
handler -
someone who works with a dog and tells it what to do
motivate -
make someone want to do something
- a person or animal's nature

Article © 2001 Reuters Limited. Lesson © 2001

B: Vocabulary

Look at the words from today's article and choose the correct meaning.

Paragraph one:

1. difficult means...
    a. easy
    b.  hard

Paragraph two:

2. recognize means...
a. to know what something is because you have seen it or heard about it before.
b. to see something for the first time.

3. search means...
    a. to look after something.
    b. to look for something

4. plots mean...
    a. small areas of land.
    b. small landmines.

Paragraph three:

5.  reduce means...
    a. to make smaller.
    b. to make bigger.

Paragraph five:

6. site means...
a. a place where something is.
b. something that looks interesting.


C: Questions

Read the article again and answer the questions below.

1. How many dogs have finished their training?
2. What did they learn to do?
3. Why are they taught to sit beside mines?
4. What is a good demining dog like?
5. What are the dogs given when they find a mine?
6. Why do the dogs get this?
7. How many sites in Thailand have anti-personnel and anti-tank mines in them?
8. Why does Thailand have land mines?

D: Language

In today's article there were these words:

"A dog is one of many tools in demining...but they make it safer for everybody else."

'for' can be used after certain adjectives and can be followed by an object.
In this sentence 'safe' is an adjective and 'everybody else' is the object.

Put the words below in the correct order to make sentences. Use the adjective + for + object pattern. The first one has been done as an example.

1. dangerous for Mines are children
Answer: Mines are dangerous for children.
2. for useful are dogs demining.
3. sugar bad your is for teeth
4. rubber balls helpful training for are dogs
5. bad for health smoking is for your
6. children Christmas is for fun

Post-Reading Activities
You may do one or more of these.

A: Gap Fill

Read the summary of today's article and fill in the gaps with the words below.

  smells       recognize       reduces     explosives      small plots of land      mines      mine      danger
    owners        sense of smell     mine     graduated

Eight dogs (1) _______ from their training  in Thailand. The dogs are trained  to  (2)_______ the  (3)_______ of common (4)_______ and are taught to search  (5)_______ for (6)_______. They are taught to sit beside a (7)_______ because it (8)_______ the (9)_______ to themselves and their (10)_______. A good demining dog has a keen (11)_______ and a good temperament and they love balls! When a dog finds  a (12)_______  they are given a ball.

B: Discussion

Work together in small groups and discuss the paragraph below.
 Someone in some country around the world will set off a mine every 20 minutes. About 2,000 people a month are injured by land mines, half of them will die.

1. What do you think about land mines?
2. What do you think can be done to help countries with land mines?

C:  Research Project

Find out about a working dog using  the Internet or your local library. Write a paragraph describing what the dog has to do, what breed  of dog is used and how long their training is.


D: Sorting Information

Here are some ideas on landmines. Some of the ideas show why people think countries need landmines, (ideas that support the use of landmines) other ideas show why landmines should not be used (ideas that oppose landmines).

Read the ideas. If you think an idea shows why landmines are needed, write the word 'Support'. If you think an idea shows why landmines should not be used, write 'Against'.



Pre-Reading Activities

A: Picture / Discussion - Notes

The pictures are to lead into today's article. Do this activity as a class discussion.

A: Picture / Discussion - Sample Answers

1. Answers will vary.
2. Dogs work as guide dogs and rescue dogs. They are used for crowd control by the police and for tracking criminals. Some dogs are used by rest homes and hospitals to give residents / patients an interest. Customs officials use them to sniff out drugs and other illegal items at airports.
3. They may be used because they are loyal, friendly and obedient and can learn a number of commands. Their sense of smell and ability to move quickly makes them ideal for search and rescue work. Powerful dogs who can bark (or bite) when ordered by their handlers are useful for police / security forces work.

1. A landmine is similar to a bomb. It is a container filled with explosive material that is hidden in the ground. When someone steps on it or a vehicle like a tank goes over it, it explodes killing or injuring anyone near it.
2. They are usually planted by countries to defend themselves. Armies use it as one way of hurting their enemies.
3. They are dangerous because they hurt or kill people. But they go on being dangerous after a war is over as often an army does not remove them once fighting has finished. Innocent people, often children, stand on one by mistake. They die or receive terrible injuries.
4. Answers will vary. Sources say more than 70 countries.
5. By people with mine-detecting equipment, people with dogs (the dogs are trained to find the mines), robots or special large machines.

B: Vocabulary - Notes

This activity gets students to look at any words they know and say which of the two pictures from Pre-Reading Activity A they associate with a particular word. Students can then look up the meanings of any of the words in a dictionary and then repeat the activity with those words.

B: Vocabulary - Answers

training - Picture 1, battle - Picture 2, danger - Picture 2, explosives - Picture 2, sense of smell - Picture 1.

Reading Activities

A: Paragraphs - Notes

In this activity the students are to read quickly - without using their dictionary. The vocabulary will be covered in the next activity.

A: Paragraphs - Answers

a. - 2, b. - 3, c. - 5, d. - 1, e. 4.

B: Vocabulary - Answers

1. b; 2.a; 3. b; 4. a; 5. a; 6.b.

C: Questions - Notes

3. For question 3 you may wish to probe deeper and ask students why it would be less dangerous for dogs to sit by the mines. The answer should be fairly easy for students to work out with a little encouragement. (i.e. the handlers do not want the dog trying to unearth the mines. They could accidentally explode the mine. The unearthing and removal of each mine has to be done by humans with the right training and equipment.)

C: Questions - Answers

1. 8
2. To recognize the smells of the most common explosives.

3. Because it reduces the danger to themselves and to their owners.
4. A keen sense of smell, good temperament and a healthy love of balls.

5. A rubber ball.

6. To motivate them (i.e. make them want to look for the mines) (Presumably playing with the ball is a reward.)
7. 1,000

8. Because of wars and unrest in neighboring Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

D: Language - Answers

2. Dogs are useful for demining.
3. Sugar is bad for your teeth.

4. Rubber balls are helpful for training dogs.

5. Smoking is bad for your health.

6. Christmas is fun for children.

Post-Reading Activities
A: Gap Fill - Notes

Students can try to complete the gap fill without looking back at the article. Pair work might help to make the task more enjoyable. If they have difficulty, however, they may refer to it.

A: Gap Fill - Answers

Eight dogs (1) graduated from their training  in Thailand. The dogs are trained  to (2) recognize the  (3) smells of common (4) explosives and are taught to search  (5) small plots of land  for (6) mines. They are taught to sit beside a (7) mine because it (8) reduces the (9) danger to themselves and their (10) owners. A good demining dog has a keen (11) sense of smell, and a good temperament and they love balls! When a dog finds a (12) mine they are given a ball.

D: Sorting Information - Notes

This is a reasonably challenging activity so you may like to assign only to those students keen to do extra work. If however, you wish to extend the discussion initiated by Post-Reading Activity B, these points will provide more material for students to work with.

D: Sorting Information - Answers

Landmines kill and injure people, who are often civilians (not soldiers), and animals. People lose arms and legs and need long periods of medical treatment. (Against)
They are used to slow down attack from the enemy. (Support)
They ruin good farming land and make it useless for growing things for a very long time afterwards. (Against)
People making landmines make lots of money. It is a business. (Support)
Usually no records are kept of where landmines are hidden so it is very hard to remove them after a war. (Against)
Landmines stay in the ground after a war is over. They continue to kill and injure people in peace time. (Support)
Landmines remain in the ground after a war is finished. They continue to kill and injure people in peace time. (Against)

Please Note: The website addresses below may be of interest to students who want to know more about this issue. They were also recommended in another lesson, the 'A Global Issue' found in the Intermediate section of the Instant Lessons library, which also looks at landmines.

Here are some website addresses:

--The International Campaign to Ban Landmines site:
--To find a list of countries who have not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty:
--This site may also be useful It has a map and country positions on the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.
--This United Nations site - may be useful as it contains personal accounts from people who have experienced landmines firsthand and talks about what can be done.
--Another useful site is the Adopt-A-Minefield campaign and this is the official site:
--To find out about animals and landmines students can go to the site: and use the advanced search, select dates, under "Development Issues" select "wildlife and livestock" then select search.


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