If you have ever watched any TV show or movie that has something to do with crime investigation or drug detection, then you have probably already seen how a scent dog does its job. These are specific dog training breeds that have a great talent!
The sniffing talent of these dogs is already quite impressive in itself, but the way they use it to track down criminals, find drug stashes and locate explosive devices is nothing short of astounding. Anyone who sees these scent dogs in action will certainly be amazed at their skills. What we don’t see, however, is the intensive training that these dogs have to go through in order to hone their sniffing skills.
Finding the Best Scent Dogs
Compared to humans, dogs have a very remarkable sense of smell. But not all dogs are equally qualified to become working scent dogs. These special canines are selected from many different breeds but most of the best candidates are Labrador retrievers and German shepherds.
Training scent dogs is no easy feat. The first stage is to scout for dogs with great potential and adopt them in preparation for the training process.
What most of the candidates have in common is that they are highly energetic, usually too much so for their previous owners who willingly give them up for adoption. Quite interestingly, many of these dogs who have been given up by their owners end up doing great service for human society.
Many dog training agencies also get their scent dogs from private breeders and dog shelters. However, not all initially chosen dogs have what it takes to become a full-fledged professional sniffer.
A new method of training scent dogs is called green training. In this method, instructors teach dogs to identify certain scents but without the rigorous procedures used in traditional dog training centers. In other words, they still lack a significant amount of training before they can be regarded as “finished” dogs.
What many training agencies today do is to get green-trained dogs and simply finish the training process. This is certainly a much more efficient method than training an uneducated dog right from the beginning.
Breeding Scent Dogs
To make the process of finding scent dogs much easier, many dog training agencies today work closely with dog breeders in order to increase the likelihood of getting dogs that already have the right temperament, soundness and work ethic.
An excellent example is the Australian Custom Service Detector Dog Program, which has developed its own Labrador retriver breeding program. The dogs bred in this program all have high energy levels, as well as strong drives for hunting, which are necessary qualities to make a top scent dog.