How Police Dog Training Programs Teaches The Detection Of Narcotics And Explosives

Detecting narcotics and explosives are a difficult task, but dogs are up for the challenge.

Teaching dogs how to detect narcotics is no easy task.
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Detecting narcotics and explosives are a difficult task, but dogs are up for the challenge.

Detection is the main component to being a police dog. These furry officers of the law use their keen sense of smell to weed out evidence, drugs, people, and more. When it comes to detecting, the USPCA has several tests lined up for police dogs in training.

Police dogs in training can get several certifications for detection from the USPCA. They can be certified in detecting narcotics, explosives, evidence, cadavers, and accelerants.

For the narcotics detection test, the USPCA uses 5 grams of real substances and does not permit the use of pseudo substances. During the test, handlers are not allowed to use whistles, ultrasonic devices or anything of the sort. Rewards like dry dog food or toys are also prohibited. There’s a total of 200 possible points in the test. Teams consisting of the police dog in training and the handler must get at least 140 points to pass. The dogs will have to search through a building and vehicle for Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, or any derivatives of those drugs.

Meanwhile, the explosive detection test is split into two parts. First, the police dogs in training are tested on recognition. The trainees will be shown 18 containers and must identify the six that contain explosive compounds. To make the test a bit more difficult, 6 of the containers hold distractors.

In the second part, the police dog trainees must find explosives in rooms, parcels, and vehicles. A total of six items must be found, two in each hiding spot. There’s a time limit for each test, and the dogs can only circle the room or vehicle a couple of times before making a final decision. To get certified, the team must receive an average score of no lower than 17.5 points out of 35 points. In addition, the team must locate five out of six of the hidden items and passed the recognition test, as well.

For both tests, the police dogs in training and their handlers are being judged on three things: Find, Response, and Alert. Handlers can win points by finding or correctly identifying the location his/her furry companion has detected the narcotic or substance. The dogs themselves earn points for how they respond to the scent or trail of the substance and how they alert their handlers to the substances’ location.

In a previous Inquisitr article about popular police dog breeds, it was discussed that Belgian Malinois often work with TSA personnel to sniff out explosives and maybe even narcotics being transported through airports. German Shepherds have also been known to come in handy when sniffing for evidence or suspects. Before they can do their job, however, they must pass the USPCA’s test and become certified.