Secrets of the Snout by Frank Rosell

Secrets of the Snout by Frank Rosell, University of Chicago Press, ISBN: 13: 978-0-226-53636-1, 265 pgs., $23.40.

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Professor Rosell has done a wonderful job explaining how a dog’s nose works. He gives us accounts of different types of detection dogs which is a delight to read. The book is easy to read and understand because written for the average pet owner.

While other books have covered a dog’s scenting abilities, Professor Rosell has included the latest research along with keen insight to dog behavior. He explains what makes up scent and what a dog detects.

Each chapter features a specific dog’s scenting experience which helps the reader gain useful insight as to how dogs do their jobs. He explores topics such as, can a dog tell identical twins apart and other interesting experiments.

There are extensive notes for each chapter as well as a thorough index which makes it easy to locate specific material. I highly recommend this book for all working dog and pet owners who would like to understand their dog’s world of scent. This book was first published in Norway and was so popular that it was translated into English and published in the United States.

The Chapters include:

  1. Dogs at Work
  2. A Dog’s Sense of Smell
  3. A Good Judge of Character
  4. Pet Finder
  5. Search and Rescue
  6. On the Hunt
  7. Police Work
  8. Customs and Border Control
  9. Military
  10. Medical Detection
  11. Field Assistant
  12. Pest Detector and Building Inspector
  13. Other Work Tasks for Sniffer Dogs.
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How animals detect odor

Professor  Nowotny, Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange in the University of Sussex’s School of Engineering and Informatics had determined that animals may not single out a specific odor when they look for a substance. He has found that animals may find it easier to detect a collection of odors instead of a single substance. If this is true, then most of the detection dog training that focuses on teaching a dog to look for one odor rather than a scent picture, may not be the best way to train a dog.

Waiting patiently to search croped (Jib a Border Collie)

One single odor does not exist in a natural environment, rather there are a collection of odors. When you consider that it is impossible to isolate a single odor in a natural environment, this discovery makes sense. Of course it is possible and often likely that a single odor is stronger than the surrounding odors, but still it is not the only odor present.

Professor Nowotny suggests that animal and human olfactory systems may not be made to do analytic smelling of pure odors. He uses the example of how an animal will give off pheromones, a complex set of odors, as a form of communication and that it is important that an animal recognize the entire chemical message and not a single element in the chemical message.

For years I have maintained that when teaching a dog scent work that there is no such thing as an uncontaminated scent article. Professor Nowotny has confirmed this with his latest research. Although more studies need to be done, and we should still train our dogs as we have in the past, it does open the door for a less narrow view of what dogs detect and how they detect it and may lead to new training methods.

Hydrating Working Dogs

Dogs who work in hot weather such as border patrol dogs, search and rescue dogs as well as military dogs often become dehydrated when they work in hot environments.

Scout SAR training window

Handlers of these dogs do not agree about how to hydrate their dogs to prevent heat stroke and dehydration. There are three major ways that handlers hydrate their dogs.

  1. Free access to drinking water
  2. Subcutaneous hydration (a needle under the skin) of water and electrolytes
  3. Drinks containing electrolytes

Researchers studied all three methods and found that they all worked. However, they found that by using a chicken flavored electrolyte drink, even dogs who were reluctant to drink, would drink more liquid.

The researchers tested the dog’s urine and found that they passed the sodium and therefore did not have a buildup of sodium in their body which had been a concern about using electrolyte drinks. Thus, drinking a chicken flavored electrolyte drink did not have any negative effects on the dogs.

Ghosts of the Buffalo Wheel by Joe Jennings

Ghosts of the Buffalo Wheel by Joe Jennings, 273 pgs., ISBN: 9781980726098, $11.50, self-published

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This is the second book about Sam Webber and Gunny the SAR dog, The Ghosts of Iwo Jima was the first in the series. This adventure takes Sam, Gunny and the team to the Buffalo Wheel, also known as the Medicine Wheel which is a real life National Historical Landmark in Wyoming. Based on clues, the team was assigned to find the remains of Butch Cassidy.

Mr. Jennings did quite a bit of research about the Medicine Wheel and what really happened to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He mentions historical data about the pair and theories about their fate in his book.

The story weaves in native American traditions and lore as well as forensic research techniques that are used to determine if the remains that are found are those of Butch Cassidy. There is also the drama of the search and an attempt to steal the supposed gold that Butch hid from an old robbery.

This book is as entertaining as Mr. Jennings first book and it is especially fun for SAR people to read. I highly recommend it.

 

K9 Search and Rescue Troubleshooting

K9 Search and Rescue Troubleshooting: Practical Solutions to Common Search Dog Training Problems by Susan Bulanda, publisher, Brush Education, ISBN: 978-1-55059-736-3 Autographed copies available at www.sbulanda.com also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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My new book is now available! This book will help both the seasoned and inexperienced K9 handler. Many SAR units use a one-size-fits-all training method. When it does not work, they often do not know how to solve the training problem. This book explains how to fix those problems. Every dog is unique and what works for one dog may not work for another. Sometimes a small change in technique is all that is needed. Other times the handler is sending the wrong signal to the dog.

Getting the right dog or puppy is critical to the dog’s success. The book explains how to find the right breeder and puppy for SAR work. The way the puppy is handled during its stages of development can influence how the adult dog will react to training. If a handler is training an older dog, its early experiences can explain some of the training issues that a handler may have.

The book also explains the intelligence of dogs including the latest research about how they perceive life, their emotions and how they react to their owners. This knowledge will help a handler relate to their dog and recognize the message that they send to their dog. Although this book is written for SAR dogs, the information in it applies to all types of dog training, especially for working dogs.

The chapters include:

Finding a good SAR dog; Why dogs have training problems; What is scent; The uncontaminated scent article; Cross train a dog; SAR dog training methods; SAR dog training problems; and an appendix about the nature of scent.

Please Spread the Word!

 

 

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.

lar & jib

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.
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