In order to successfully train a dog for detection, the dog must possess certain essential qualities. There are breeds of dogs with characteristics that make them excellent for this type of work. These include, among others, Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Beagles; breeds known for their predisposition to this type of training.
As a reminder, detection training is basically a game! A dog is taught to detect a scent in exchange for a reward.
The following are the qualities we look for in the dogs we train.
Qualities in terms of temperament
Some dogs will have a temperament more suitable to excel at the job. Detector dogs have, among other things, an attitude that allows them to perform well in detection of all kinds!
They are playful dogs
Working dogs are, first and foremost, playful dogs.
Before starting training, it is important to determine whether the dog likes to play! This is an essential characteristic for success as a detector dog. If the dog is not interested in learning, playing and receiving only rewards, it will be impossible, or at least much more difficult, to train him.
They are smart
Detector dogs are very smart! They are able to learn many things quickly! They can memorize an impressive number of smells and commands and happily respond to requests!
They are motivated and dedicated
Dogs that excel in their work are dogs that never give up. They are highly motivated to find the target scent to earn their reward. They are also loyal to their master and therefore work well in a team.
They are sociable
Although a dog should not be disturbed at work, dogs are socialized so that they are comfortable working near people and in crowds.
Even if your dog is intelligent, playful, loyal and motivated, he will never make a good working dog if he does not have the necessary physical qualities.
They have a good nose
This is somewhat self-evident. To detect a scent, a dog must have an exceptional sense of smell. In general, dogs have a sense of smell that is up to one million times more acute than that of humans1. However, some have an even better sense of smell than others.
The German Shepherd, the Labrador Retriever and the Belgian Malinois are among the top ten dogs with the best sense of smell2.
They have stamina
Some breeds of dog have good natural abilities, but will not have the physical stamina for the job. The dog chosen must, in effect, be able to do the job in all conditions.
They are also tested to ensure that they are in excellent health. At a minimum, a blood test and X-rays for the joints are done.