Sniffing For Bombs: Meet America's most elite dogs

Lara Logan gets a rare look into the secretive world of working dogs -- some of whose capabilities are military secrets -- and their handlers

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Mike Ritland: Hard enough to break bones. I had a dog bite me, right here like this. He only had his mouth on me for probably four or five seconds and broke my wrist.

Lara Logan: He broke your wrist in four or five seconds?

Mike Ritland: Yeah, I mean just like that. Just broke it.

Mike Ritland says they have to teach these dogs how to deal with someone who wants to harm them. The trainer is putting pressure on him without hurting him. The aim is to make the dog comfortable, then teach him to ignore it, and by the end, Ritland says, the dog won't let it affect him at all.

Mike Ritland: The number one thing that I look for in a dog is that that dog, when pushed, and when he's put into an uncomfortable spot - where physically and mentally he's got pressure on him and I give him the choice, and it's absolutely a choice, to either stay and fight me or to quit and run, that dog decides I'm gonna stay and fight you. And I'm gonna beat you. When you do find that, it is a unicorn in that they almost don't exist.

Arko is one of those rare dogs. He's retired after repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and he now lives on Mike Ritland's ranch. Most of what he's done is classified, so Ritland could only tell us a little about the operation that almost killed him, when he took down an enemy fighter who shot him in the chest.

Mike Ritland: And, he maintained control of the guy, you know, after being shot, so--

Lara Logan: At point-blank range?

Mike Ritland: Uh-huh (affirm). Yep. So, you know, it's funny, because a lot of people, you know, I think scoff at the idea that, you know, what kind of things, what kind of obstacles can these dogs really go through? You know, and it's more than most humans.

For a dog to make it in the world of Special Operations, Mike Ritland says there are certain qualities that have to be there from the beginning.

Mike Ritland: He's already, you know, displaying the prey drive and possessiveness that we like to see in that he'll put uncomfortable objects in his mouth.

Most of the dogs that do this work well are from one breed: Belgian Malinois.

And there are only three places in the U.S. that breed them for top tier military units, like this one in West Virginia where Mike Ritland gets some of his dogs.

[Lara Logan: Oh they're so cute.]

Here, they specialize in the early stages of training, which starts almost from birth, with loud noises that are meant to get them used to the sounds they may one day face in combat.

Their noses are up to a 1,000 times more sensitive than a humans, and at just a few months old, they start learning to ignore other smells and distractions, while zeroing in on the scent of a bomb.

[Mike Ritland: So here she's trying to get her to be disobedient to that odor, and he won't do it.]

They'll repeat this training over and over for two years, so that by the time this dog goes to war or is needed on America's streets, nothing will take it off the track of a bomb.