Dogs are known as intelligent, resourceful, loyal creatures. While they are most commonly used as pets, dogs serve far more focused purposes for some people. Seeing eye dogs, for example, help the blind or disabled navigate through public places. Other dogs are used for hunting, great sporting events. Still, other dogs are used in showcases, battling for awards and the prestige of being named best in show. Other canines are used as guard dogs by police and military organizations around the world. These dogs stand brave and fierce in the face of danger. And other dogs, still, are used to sniff out and detect cancer. Of course, dogs are also used to sniff out other things – namely, explosives and drugs.
Detection dogs, also known as sniffer dogs, are trained to utilize their keen sense of smell to detect illegal narcotics. Before delving into this particular subset of detection dogs, we're going to touch on some other uses of detector dogs.
Some dogs are trained to sniff out human remains, or crime evidence. Others are trained to seek out fire accelerants, generally during arson investigation. Other dogs are trained to sniff out endangered animal species, or even invasive species. A lot more purposes exist for detector dogs. Some sniff out weapons such as dangerous explosives or firearms. These patriotic pooches may very well prevent a terrorist attack! Some dogs are trained to sniff out mobile phones, usually in prisons, where it's considered contraband. There are dogs that sniff out bed bugs and termites. And others are trained to sniff out health anomalies, usually hypoglycemic emergencies in humans, and even cancerous tumors. Perhaps the strangest use for sniffing dogs is when they are trained to find polycarbonate optical disks (CDs and DVDS) to put a damper on bootleggers stolen merchandise. Obviously, there are many, varied applications for a dogs talented nose.
These dogs truly are talented. They are able to discern scents and aromas that may be masked and mixed with other scents.
Finding illegal things by taking the help of detective dogs
This is crucial in finding narcotics and other illicit substances, in that many people will try to hide drugs by surrounding the drug package in items with heavy odors or fragrances. Garlic, perfumes, anything with strong and pungent orders are used in an attempt to throw sniffing dogs off. But as stated above, the dogs are talented enough to discern scents and aromas that are being masked by other scents.
Dogs noses, on average, are 5,000 times stronger than humans when it comes to smelling. So it is safe to say the K-9 detector dogs trained to clean up airports are gifted animals with a remarkable sense of smell. K-9 training is provided to such dogs to help them unleash their full capability that are actually helpful for the law forces. While most sniffer dogs are stationed in police K-9 units and at airports, some are known to go to concert events such as jam band music festivals and other such events. This is more a statement than anything – if you act the fool, these dogs will sniff you out right quick and ruin what should have been an otherwise carefree and enlightening weekend.
Police dogs and other sniffer dogs undergo extensive training to be able to fulfill their tasks. A common training method is to train the dog to associate their favorite toy with the scent of a drug. They essentially associate the scent of an illegal substance with a play toy, and immediately become attracted to the aroma, thus leading the cops to the criminals with ease.
Generally, a police dogs favorite toy is a white towel, as they enjoy a hearty match of tug-o-war. Training will consist of getting the dog accustomed to this toy, solidifying it as the pooches go-to-activity. Once this behavioral trait is ingrained, a bag of potent, pungent marijuana is wrapped in the towel, and the games continue. After the dog begins to associate the smell of marijuana with the towel, his or her favorite play thing, they will then be tasked with finding the towel, after it has been hidden in a room. The dog will then seek out the marijuana scent, in search of the towel, and claw and dig at whatever enclosure it may have been placed in.
Later, as the dogs sniffing training progresses, other drugs are wrapped in the towel. The dog is essentially trained to sniff out a variety of scents and aromas, rewarded each time it finds it's play towel. Now that the dog associates finding it's play toy (a white towel with a variety of interesting smells) with being rewarded, it will automatically seek these scents out when brought to, say, a music festival or an airport setting.
There are a variety of 'signals' a sniffer dog will be trained to give upon finding the object in question. While drug sniffer dogs are trained to dig and claw, looking for their favorite toy, also known as an “aggressive signal,” if a dog was to undertake the same action when looking for, say, a bomb, the results could prove disastrous. It is for this reason that “passive signals” exist. Beagle sniffer dogs are trained to use passive signals in an effort to not alarm civilians. When they find, say, fruits or vegetables that are illegal to bring into the country, the Beagles (commonly referred to as the Beagle Brigade) sit down, hence the title “passive signal.”
Sniffer dogs are raised by their human partners. This develops a strong bond between the two, the dogs being such loyal and trustworthy animals, taking an immediate liking to their owners / partners and showcasing this loyalty by protecting them at all costs. It is essential for this bond to be established for the dogs to work at their maximum efficiency and capabilities. It also has the same effect on the owners – they will generally grow to care for and even love their K-9 partners. In the line of duty, this loyalty and relationship is essential to pulling off the right moves with the accuracy and precision necessitated to take the bad guys down and serve them the justice they so desperately deserve.
Hence, the k-9 training provided ensures that the investigations by the law forces will go down way more smoothly and quickly than they otherwise would.