2015 APDT Annual Educational Conference & Trade Show

FR08 - The Complex Science, History, and Training of Detection Dogs (and Their Handlers)

Oct 16, 2015 1:30pm ‐ Oct 16, 2015 4:45pm

Standard: $20.00


This class is designed for handlers and trainers who want to understand both the history and science, as well as some of the difficult training and handling issues, behind the working scent dog. It covers four general areas: 1) some of the history of detection dog work, and how it informs current practices; 2) the basics of scent theory, including the scientific background on what we know and don’t know about dogs’ ability, and how difficult and complex volatile compounds are; 3) an introduction to some of the foundational training methods used for scent recognition; 4) what advanced and ongoing training of an experienced detection dog and her handler looks like; and 5) what some of the pitfalls are in training and deploying scent dogs, from questions of reliability to legal quagmires.

Learning Objectives:

  • Review some of the fascinating history of detection dogs and how they are deployed today.
  • Discuss the science of scent, and what we know and don’t yet know about dogs’ abilities to reliably detect particular odors.
  • Review the complex trap of our co-evolution with dogs (how it can get in the way of a scent dog’s reliability), and what kind of training and handling can help create a confident and independent detection dog.


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