In another article, we talked about the different paths a detector dog can take. Some specialize in drug detection, others in explosives and yet others in insect detection. But did you know that explosive or drug detection dogs also have their own areas of specialization?
In fact, you could say that there are general detector dogs and then there are specialized detector dogs.
The various specializations for detection dogs
When a detection dog is said to be certified, it is ready for general work. However, depending on the job it will have to do, it will be trained further so that it can specialize in that particular area.
Examples? A customs dog at the airport will specialize largely in baggage inspection and it is likely that this will make up the majority of its work during its career. It will probably never have to detect anything inside a car. On the other hand, a colleague who works almost exclusively at a land crossing customs office, sees hundreds of vehicles a day. The latter will not inspect luggage conveyors… There is a subtle difference.
So, to ensure that your dog performs well in the job he will be given, we take the time to adapt our training program to the work environment in which he will be working.
Here are some of the possible specializations in detection dog training.
Detection in school lockers
Detection in school lockers was our first specialization at K9 Intervention. Now, our drug dogs are all trained to sniff the lockers efficiently and quickly. This means that we have a very high success rate in finding drugs in a very short period of time! We have a ratio of over 800 lockers per hour.
Why do we insist on speed? Because by being fast, we avoid the possibility that drugs are moved during the break after we arrive! But we don’t neglect the success rate. This is an important factor to consider when training drug detector dogs.
Specialized crowd search dogs
An explosive detection dog may specialize in finding explosive substances on moving people.
This is a specialty that has gained momentum after the Boston bombings. During the marathon, individuals placed bombs that unfortunately caused several deaths. So we realized that we could use dog teams in crowds to prevent as many injuries and deaths as possible.
We often work together with law enforcement agencies to identify people who will be checked before arriving at critical locations and places where the concentration of people is greater. Firearms and explosives are a major threat, even in Québec!
Cargo detector dogs
The level of training and safety is very important when it comes to air and sea transport, as in these areas the impact would be enormous in the event of an explosion. Our explosive dogs are therefore involved in specific training for detection on shipping pallets, air and sea transport containers and luggage or parcels. They are also desensitized to work in a warehouse and even on conveyors. They even have specialized certification for canine cargo units.
There are now high-end camera systems, such as the K9 Vision System that allow a dog to be directed remotely with the help of a microphone and directly transmitted images. This is very useful for military and police intervention teams, but also for the detection of explosives.
In this specialization, a dog which is already doing detection must learn to wear the system and to recognize the instructions directed at a distance, while carrying out its work autonomously. It is taught to turn to one side or the other, to stop, to open doors and much more.
Specialization of the detector dog is a matter of training
The specialization of the detector dog will take place during its training program. He will obviously start by learning the scents to be recognized and then, once he is familiar with the detection, he will be taught to do so in a specific environment. A dog and its handler are in constant training to perform better and better in more specific environments or situations.