A new device to help train explosives detection dogs

We depend upon bomb dogs to help protect us from terrorist attacks. Training them can be tricky. To help trainers and handlers, researchers have developed a real-time vapor analysis device called a Vapor Analysis Mass Spectrometer to help trainers and handlers understand what a dog detects when searching for explosive materials. When training a dog for any kind of scent work, it is important to hide items that are not scented as well as items with the target scent on them. Bomb dog trainers and handlers found that in some cases the dogs were indicating scent on the non-scented items. What the Vapor Analysis Mass Spectrometer showed in these cases that the dogs were correct because the non-scented items had picked up scent that drifted from the scented items.

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By using the Vapor Analysis Mass Spectrometer during training, handlers and trainers will better be able to determine how accurate the dogs are in detecting explosive material.

The lesson from this research applies to all types of scent work with dogs. It shows us that items handlers think are not contaminated may be contaminated. Ultimately, it means that whoever handles scented items and non-scented items for training must take extra precautions to ensure that non-scented items are not contaminated. This can be especially tricky when training dogs in search and rescue where the handler has no control over the elements (weather, etc.) that can cause scent to drift.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170628131349.htm

K9 Drug Detection: A Manual for Training and Operations

K9 Drug Detection: A Manual for Training and Operations by Resi Gerritsen and Ruud Haak, Brush Education, Inc., ISBN: 978-1-55059-681-6, $44.95, 296 pgs.

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This is another great book by Resi Gerritsen and Ruud Haak that consists of 8 chapters with four appendices, a bibliography, notes and an index. The Appendices list the laws concerning drugs in Canada and the USA.

Chapter:

  1. Selecting the Drug-Detector Dog and Handler
  2. Basics of Drug-Detection Training
  3. Accidental Drug Uptake: First Aide for Your Dog
  4. Reading Your Dog
  5. Influence of Air Currents in Search Work
  6. Planning a Search Action
  7. General Information on Drugs, Drug Laws and Penalties
  8. The Different Drugs
  9. Conclusion

There are a lot of training tips covered in the book that apply to other disciplines. For example, the authors point out that yelling at your dog sounds like punishment to the dog.

They cover handler requirements as well as dogs. For example, they explain that the handler must learn to trust their dog since they depend on the dog to find the scent. This is true for all working dog situations. They explain that the drug dog must be able to work independently yet also be obedient. Again, this is true for all working dog situations. It is called intelligent disobedience since the dog must alert or lead the handler to the scent source even if the handler does not think the source is located where the dog indicates.

The authors give an excellent description of how the wind and buildings affect scent by explaining outdoor wind currents and indoor air currents. They give extensive details about how to search a building and where to look. They also cover other types of searches such as vehicles, RV’s, packages, luggage, airplanes, boats, and the list goes on. All of this applies to SAR work as well.

They cover training methods and explain the pros and cons of controlled searches and blind searches. They also cover situations where there are multiple scents involved. Like any good scent book they explain how the dog’s nose detects scent.

The dog training part of the book is excellent as well as their description of innate, acquired and learned behaviors. They explain how the handler must recognize each and use them in training.

Over all this is an excellent book that can help anyone who wants to do any type of scent work with their dog. It is also a good refresher for those who already use drug dogs.

Digger: The Case of the Chimera Killer

Digger: The Case of the Chimera Killer by Robert D. Calkins, pgs. 337, ISBN: 978-0-9971911-2-7, self-published, $15.95.

Digger is a fast paced, fun read for all ages. The story is about a young man, his Golden Retriever and his girlfriend who are part of a canine search and rescue team. While the story is lighthearted in many ways, it is also dramatic and a page turner. The examples of how SAR dogs work and the technical aspects of searching are true to real life missions. The added mystery of solving who the killer is adds to the excitement of this book.

The quality of the book is good and there are no technical issues or grammatical mistakes.

Calkins has also written two children’s picture books.

Sierra Becomes a Search Dog, ISBN:978-0-9971911-0-3; and Sierra the Search Dog Finds Fred, ISBN: 9780997191141 both by Robert D. Calkins and illustrated by Taillefer Long. Both books are $10.95.

Sierra Becomes a Search Dog and Sierra the Search Dog Finds Fred are nice children’s book with Fun Facts sidebars explaining technical aspects in a way that children will understand. Sierra the Search Dog Finds Fred is told as a rhyme/poem which is not bad. I personally liked the style used in Sierra Becomes a Search Dog which is written in simple language for young readers. Both are excellent books to introduce children to canine SAR.

K9 Investigation Errors: A Manual for Avoiding Mistakes

K9 Investigation Errors: A Manual for Avoiding Mistakes, by Resi Gerritsen and Ruud Haak, Brush Education, Inc.; 256 pgs.; ISBN: 978-1-55059-672-4, $44.95

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How can you make a good book better? Resi Gerritsen and Ruud Haak who wrote K9 Fraud, have accomplished that with their updated book, K9 Investigation Errors. They cover many important points in handling dogs that are common mistakes. For example, they explain how dogs can read human gestures, even the slightest ones (the Clever Hans Effect) which can cause a false response from a dog. They review some famous cases in the United States and show how the handler or poor training misled authorities, sometimes resulting in the arrest of the wrong person.

What I especially liked was their comments that dog handlers who claim fantastic results with their dogs (typically false) influence authorities who believe them and then think that properly trained dogs who cannot perform to that level are not as good, when in fact the properly trained and handled dogs are correct.

Another interesting point that they bring out in their book is what they call failure scents. This is when a dog associates a scent with failure and by association can lead to the dog’s poor performance. This is the same as people will often associate a benign event, song, scent or even food with a bad experience and react to the memory that it triggers.

There is so much information in this book that I strongly recommend handlers of all disciplines read this book and evaluate how they can improve their dogs and their handling skills.

The book is a high quality book, as is typical of Brush Education Publications, with quality binding, pages and soft cover. It is well edited with no typo’s or other common mistakes that authors tend to make when writing. It is always a pleasure to review a Brush Education book.

The chapters are:

Scent-Identification Lineups

The Dutch Training Method for Scent Identification

Dogs’ Responsiveness to Human Gestures

Tracking Dogs in Crime Investigations

Scent Research and Tracking Experiments

Errors in Mantrailing

Human Odor and Dogs’ Scent Perception

Scent Problems and Training Problems

Preventing Investigation Errors

Now you can clone your beloved pet

No matter if it is a dog, cat or other animal, or how many pets you have had in your life there is always that one special pet. Many people try to get another pet just like the one that they had. They go to the same breeder or try to pick one that has the same characteristics as the beloved pet. But it rarely ever works out because each animal is unique.

Cloning now lets a pet owner get the exact same animal. A company called ViaGen Pets has cloned the first puppy and kitten in the U.S. They are the only company that is in full compliance with all of the U.S. regulations and pet care practices.

Cloning is best done while the pet you wish to clone is alive because a small tissue sample is harvested, processed and stored. Then when you are ready, the DNA from your pet is implanted in a donor and will develop to full gestation.

The resulting pet will look and behave the same as the original pet. It will also have the same health issues which can be an advantage since in some cases,  the pet owner can take preventative measures.

If cloning had been available many years ago, I would have cloned my beloved SAR dog Scout.

For more information, contact: www.viagenpets.com or speak with a ViaGen counselor at 888-876-6104.
1 scout head

 

K9 Fraud! Fraudulent Handling of Police Search Dogs

K9 Fraud

K9 Fraud

K9 Fraud! Fraudulent Handling of Police Search Dogs, by Resi Gerritsen & Ruud Haak; Publisher, Detselig Enterprises LTD Alberta, Canada; ISBN: 978-55059-393-8, $27.95, 216 pgs.

This is a very interesting book and one of the most unusual books that I have reviewed. While book is primarily about police dogs and scent specific work, it is very applicable for SAR units. Each chapter has a number of real cases which are reviewed. The lessons in this book can be applied to all SAR disciplines.

The authors refer to studies and tests that have been conducted over the past hundred plus years to verify how and why dogs work. For example they address the studies done to determine if dogs follow human scent or the disturbance on the ground.

Each chapter reviews actual cases and why there was fraud or not. Although the book points out flaws in handling and training, it is not done in an accusatory manner. The authors explain the common mistakes that dog handlers make which lead to fraud.

The case studies covered in this book are from around the world including some better known USA cases and are lessons for the SAR dog handler. They are also interesting to read for everyone else.

What is most important about this book are the lessons that the SAR dog handler can learn about how to properly handle cases that will hold up in court as well as how to properly train and handle their dogs. I highly recommend this book. An added benefit of this book is as a guide for lawyers and other people who are involved in legal cases that use canine evidence.

The chapters are:
Chapter 1: Fraud with Scent Identification Line-ups
Chapter 2: Dog’s Responsiveness to Human Gestures
Chapter 3: Fraud with Tracking Dogs
Chapter 4: Scent Research and Tracking Experiments
Chapter 5: Fraud with Mantrailing
Chapter 6: Human Odor and Dog’s Scent Perception
Chapter 7: Scent Problems and Training Problems
Chapter 8: Avoiding and Preventing Fraud
Section 1: Scent Identification Line-ups
Section 2: Management Attention: Intentional Fraud
Section 3: Civilians in Criminal Investigations
Section 4: Contamination of Scents
Section 5: Improper Training
Section 6: Insurance Fraud

K-9 SAR Novel – ‘The Canine Handler Payback’ by M.C. Hillegas

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By M.C. Hillegas, ISBN: 9781942430360; 273 pgs. $14.99; Publisher: Year of the Book.

This was an interesting and a surprising novel about Sarah, a volunteer canine SAR handler. The book is written from the three main character’s points of view which provided an interesting perspective for the story.

While this story is fiction, it did give the reader an inside look at what K9 SAR is like, the stresses and the problems that we all face. Ms. Hillegas is a real-life K9 handler which gave the story it’s realism. I found the story interesting because I am familiar with Codorus State Park, the setting for the searches.

The story weaves the life of Sarah, a woman who lived most of her youth being abused in the foster child care program, her efforts to leave her past behind and make a new life for herself. The searches are connected to each other and turn out to involve Sarah’s past. They are both homicides which require police investigation and surprisingly are also connected to a cold case.

The ending was a real twist and leaves the reader waiting for the continuation of the story which will be Ms. Hillegas’s next book.

Although this is a self-published book, the quality of the soft cover and pages are good. The font is clear and easy to read and for a first novel, Ms. Hillegas did very well.

Welcome!

Thank you for visiting my new blog site!

ID-100373827Check back often (or subscribe via the button on the right) for posts to help pet owners with health, safety and training information; and to share information on dog training, behavior, and search and rescue. Additionally, I look forward to sharing:

  • Behind-the-scenes stories and excerpts from my published books
  • Safety and health tips focused on cats, dogs and parrots
  • Photos and stories about dogs I have trained through the years

Some of the questions I am asked most often revolve around dog training. Some basic tips include:

ID-10041702Remember, dogs do not speak English, therefore you must SHOW your dog what you want. Your actions speak louder than your words. All of your body language speaks to your dog. Therefore, your ATTITUDE, FACIAL EXPRESSION AND TONE OF VOICE communicate to your dog. You cannot try and tell your dog that he is not doing the right thing while you are hiding a laugh because you really think your dog’s behavior is cute or funny. Your dog will laugh right along with you. You cannot ask your dog to obey you if you hesitate in your movements. Your dog will not believe that you are the leader. On the other hand, you cannot bully your dog or physically punish him and expect your dog to respect and trust you. A good working relationship with your dog is built on trust and leadership. This is communicated to your dog by giving commands in a tone of voice that says, “I expect you to do this, no discussion.” Then move in a steady, yet gentle way to convey leadership.

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Never re-command your dog. If your dog knows what the word means, re-commanding him just teaches your dog that a) he does not have to listen to you; b)he can do it when he wants and c)you are not the leader. For every command there should be an action. Either you coax the dog into doing what you want or the dog does it. If your dog does not know the “sit” command, and you tell your dog, “Sit . . . Sit . . . SIT!”, then make the dog sit on the third sit, your dog will learn not to sit until the third command. He will think that the command is “sitsitsit.”

Most people repeat commands to their dog’s because they are being polite (according to human standards) and assume that the dog did not hear the first or second time. I can assure you that if your dog does not respond the fist time, and does not acknowledge you, he DOES HEAR you. He is just IGNORING you. Therefore, politeness to a dog translates into “My owner is wimpy, wimpy, wimpy! Why should I listen?”

So, speak clearly and in a direct manner to your dog. For every command expect or initiate an action. Do not repeat commands. Do not hesitate when you move. Show your dog that you are a leader, not a follower.