A Nose For Detection

We all know that dogs have an amazing sense of smell.  Their noses have been recruited to help humans find everything from contraband to cancer, not to mention the heroic search and rescue dogs that use their talents to save lives.  But dogs may be more reliable sniff detectors than previously thought.

A recent study in a specialized training facility in Alabama indicated an incredible 90% accuracy rate in trained detection dogs responding to specific smells – 20% more than previous studies have suggested.  What’s more, the group found that the dogs’ performance improved depending on certain conditions, such as diet.  Dogs digesting a protein-heavy meal had a higher body temperature, which caused more panting and made accurate smelling more difficult.  A lower body temperature could be achieved with a balanced but lower-protein diet, which increased the dogs’ accuracy even beyond the 90% mark!

These talented creatures have a positive effect on our lives every day, from the professional dogs to our family pets.  You can give your dog an interesting activity by creating fun exercises – like the YouTube muffin tin game – that stimulate his sense of smell.  And be sure to check out Mick, a professional avalanche search and rescue dog, in a training exercise with Glenn Close in the video below!


A Nose For Detection by Nicki Burns

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