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How Do Drug Sniffing Dogs Get Trained?

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Have you ever wondered how drug sniffing dogs get trained?

For centuries, dogs were helpful to domesticated humans as shepherds and protectors. Canines also contribute to more modern fields like law enforcement and health care. Thanks to their senses, particularly their sense of smell, they’re valued by such institutions to help with things like fire safety, tracking disaster victims, and drug discovery.

Keep reading to learn more about how drug detection dogs work, the different types of training, and the kinds of substances they can detect!

The Training Process

Drug sniffing dogs are specially trained to use their keen sense of smell to detect illegal drugs. And so they go through a rigorous training process of six to eight weeks before they are sent out into the field.

Identifying Drug Scents

This is usually done by using a piece of drug-scented cloth or another object soaked in the scent of the drug. Once the dog can identify the drug’s scent, it is then taught how to signal to its handler that it has found the scent.

Obedience Training

This usually consists of positive reinforcement-based training. The dog is taught to associate the scent with a specific command, such as sit or stay.

When the dog correctly identifies the scent, they are rewarded with a treat or a toy. In this process, they are also taught to ignore other smells that aren’t associated with drugs.

Searching for a Scent

This often occurs in open fields, where the dog must locate hidden drugs buried or hidden in objects. With enough practice, the animal will learn to be confidently alert to the presence of narcotics, even in the most challenging environments.

What Substances Can They Detect?

Drug sniffing dogs can be trained to detect a variety of substances, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. The dogs are also able to alert their handlers to the presence of prescription drugs that are being abused. 

Selecting the Right Dog for the Job

The dog must have a strong sense of smell to detect even trace amounts of drugs. They should be able to identify and follow a scent. The dog must also be intelligent and easily trainable to comprehend and obey commands.

And the dog must have a calm and even temperament. Excitable dogs are not well suited for the job, as they may alert to false positives. Drug sniffing dogs must remain calm and focused even in high-stress situations.

Breeds that are commonly used include Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Beagles. These breeds are large enough to be taken into public places but not so large that they are intimidating. If you want to know more about drug canines and their duties, refer to this article.

Drug Sniffing Dogs Help in the Fight Against Drugs

Drug sniffing dogs are a valuable asset in the fight against drugs, and their training is essential to their success. They are first introduced to the scent of drugs. And then that is incorporated into their obedience training.

After that, it’s only a matter of training the dog to focus on that scent so it can alert its handlers. If you are considering training your dog to become a drug dog, be prepared for a challenging but rewarding process. You’ll not only have a companion but a canine that will help combat drug abuse.

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