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Ask me about: Sniffer dogs


Hello everyone!
So after 18 months of intense training, my dog Noah just passed his final test to officially be a first-priority search and rescue dog. (C.1 SAR dog)
Puppy pic for easy likes:
Noah Pictures, Noah Images, Noah Photos, Noah Videos - Image - TinyPic - Free Image Hosting, Photo Sharing & Video Hosting
I am so proud of him and wanted to share the news with you guys as well. Therefore, I have to make it educational.
Throughout the passed 18 months I have learned so much about dogs that I am now: An expert :D
I have trained along police, military and customs with the finest trainers to get to this point, and several times on this journey I thought about putting some of this knowledge into writing. I haven't found a good story for it yet, but I thought I would share some knowledge and maybe some of you have a good use for it.
I'm going to start with the nose/sniffing business and if people show interest I might add some more actionpacked content. Oh boy, where do I start?

My dog Noah is a SAR dog, which doesn't really classify under neither detection dog or a sniffer dog. But training is almost the same. Training a dog starts at puppy stage with teaching the dog to behave around other people and dogs, the goal for this training exercise is to completely ignore everyone but the owner. It is also very important to teach the dog how to calm down. Dogs get very easily excited and this both ruins the dogs attention and concentration on the mission, and it might ruin forensic evidence or trigger bombs if touched/licked at the end of the trail. If these two things are in place, the dog calm and focused. This is everything it needs. Instinct and abilities will do the rest.
Dogs will not need to train their nose. Once they are one year old, it is fully funtional and it would be able to track whatever it wants to. But how do you make it track whatever you want it to track?
There are four different kinds of trails you can make. After each trail is completed the dog is praised and get a food reward.
Motivation trail: Mostly for puppies, you throw out a handful of treats in short grass and say your search command. (Mine are "Søge" and "Rundér" which means "search" and "Stroll around" in Danish)
Operation trail: Lay down treats in a straight line 30-100 cm apart. The trail should not be longer than 20m. This will teach the dog what this game is all about. Especially with the reward in the end.
Educational trail: Just like the operation trail, but much further between the treats. Here you can add turns, crossing rivers and such to make it harder. At the start of the educational trail you make the dog sniff to whatever lies at the end. Bombs, people, weed etc. You also teach it not the touch it. Sniffer dogs are pointers.
Fitness trail: Just like the educational trail, but atleast one kilometer long. The final test was 4km and the longest I have made Noah walk for a trail is 32km. It took 14 hours. (Do not worry, labradors can run/walk 70 km everyday if they had to.)

How does a SAR dog sniff out the missing girl? or the bad guy?
There are two types of scent. I cannot find anything on the interwebs to support the Danish words for this, so if anyone knows them, feel free to correct me here. This part is really cool (I think).
Quilt scent: A scent given off by the tracked person. Here the dog can smell a mix of sweat, adrenaline, perfume, target-ID specific odor, feromones and the particles released from shoes. If a known person is missing, the police will ask for dirty underwear for the dog to sniff. Best place to find all of these scents. Here the scent is stronger, the fresher it is. Wind and rain will also be a huge factor on how long this trail will be there.
Source scent: A scent rarely seen in urban environment. Here the dog follows the trail footprints leave behind. When you step on grass, your foot crush the grass. This releases chemical like alcohol, acetone and something called GLPO (Green Leaf Protein Odor). Also, the earth beneath will have many microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, worms and insects which will eventually start to decay and give off a rotten scent. The source scent is not present until atleast an hour have passed, but it is strongest after two. After 6 hours It starts to decrease in strength and the trail will be harder to track.

Detection dogs are trained slightly different. My dog Noah can search for drugs, bombs, money, electronics, people and so on. He can search for anything I put in front of his nose. So why are there dogs that can only search for drugs? Are custom dogs just failed dogs that only knows how to do one thing? NO!
For detection dogs you add one little detail to the puppy stage. Before I talked about focus and calmness. Here you also teach the dog that drugs/bombs/money smell like home. A comfortable smell of home.
You do this be embedding for example drugs into a thick, impenetrable blanket for the dog to have in it's basket.
I have seen one of these, owned by a custom employee and it had 256 squares with sewn in drugs and chemicals used in the production of drugs and money. I imagine a blanket like this is worth quite the deal on the black market. They do the same thing for bomb squad dogs, only with explosives and chemicals connected to that field of work. It can also be done with mold, termites, bed bugs and other allergy provocing insects, electronics and even truffels.

A dog can smell glass!?
Yes it can. A couple of months back I came across a dog trainer, whose dog could smell glass. With latex gloves, he could make a stranger place a lumb of 100% pure glass anywhere and make his dog find it 14 days later. He could also find medical grade drugs stored in glass ambules on people with this clever strategy. Other cool example of how incredible the dog's nose is something taken from my own experience. My dog did once track down a stranger on a bike 9 kilometers through a city called Aalborg with 40.000 residents, into an Ikea store, where we found him eating his lunch. He dropped his cap, which he later told me, that he had only owned for one day! Therefore he was very happy to get it back.

One last subject on the sniffing dog will be a bloody one. Hunting dogs, scatter dogs and cadaver dogs would be in the category, but this where my expertise ends. I have never met someone to tell me about how to train a hunter's dog, so I will sit this one out.
I hope this rant can inspire someone to bring our best friends into their story, maybe with this interesting twist.
Questions are welcome of course. I'm fairly certain that I can answer them, or I can get the correct answer in a day or two. Otherwise, I am just extremely happy and proud right now, so I hoped some cheer for me and Noah outthere as well. :)


Big congrats TH that is quite an accomplishment.

My fantasy WIP has dogs playing a big role and I have been reading and consulting with a lot of people to understand their capacities better. I am truly amazed the more I learn about them.

I will keep you in mind if I hit any specific problems I need help with.