Scent work is the most basic and important training for police dogs in the search. Scent bonds are the basis and premise of search training.
First of all, before training scent bonds, trainer and dog must build a good relationship. To train a dog to recognize a scent, we need a scent box before training. When training dogs, we shall put a scent box on the ground in the space or empty room and place the odor in the box. The odor can be the original odor or contaminated odor but must be strong. A strong odor is easier to builds and strengthens a bond between the odor and dog. It must be noted that the scent box should be kept clean and no peculiar smell. When taking the scent box, we should wear disposable gloves, lest the odor of the object will be admixed with dog’s saliva or the odor of our body.
1. Use the dog’s desire for exploration and curiosity to let the dog learn to proactively put his mouth into the sent box.
We bring the dog into the open space or room where the scent box is placed in advance. The scent box is “novel,” to the dog so that dog will sniff it when he finds the scent box.
At the moment his mouth goes into the scent box, we should press the clicker and reward him by bringing the food to make the dog remember this behavior.
To get rewards, dogs will put their mouths into the scent box again and the trainer should reward him by bringing the food again.
After a few reps, the dog will get the signal that he will be rewarded as long as his mouth into the scent box.
When the dog’s behavior is stabilized, the trainer can give him a command “sniff”.
2. Let the dog stick its mouth into the scent jar and keep it for 5-10 seconds.
After step one, at this time, we can control the dog put his mouth into the scent box through the “sniff” command.
When the dog put his mouth into the scent box, we did not press the clicker or reward the dog. Instead, we gave the “sniff” command to let the dog go and put his mouth into the scent box.
When the dog puts his mouth into the scent box again and waits for the connection signal for 1 to 2 seconds, we pressed the clicker and rewards the dog larger than all previous rewards.
For example, if you use food as a reward. Before feeding the dog 5 dog food pellets each time, the big reward should be 20 to 30 dog food grain. Big rewards will motivate the dog to repeat this behavior. After repeated training, the dog will learn that he will be able to get the greater reward as long as the mouth is stuck in the scent box.
Through such repeated training, the dog will prefer to put its mouth into the scent box for a longer time.
The key to this step is the timing of the reward. We confirmed and rewarded the dog’s behavior of sticking his mouth into the scent box and keeping it, not the behavior of the dog’s mouth leaving the scent box. When training, you must confirm the timing of the clicker.
3. Find the target odor from multiple scent box.
Prepare two scent boxes that have been cleaned and weren’t infected with any odor.
If the original product is used as the target odor, then the compound in the other scent box must be the same as the original package. If you use fumigant as the target odor, the fumigant should be put in one scent box and the same items that have not been contaminated should be put in another scent box.
When using more scent boxes, the trainer should repeat the above process.
It can prevent that the dog sniffed the scent box that has objects and didn’t sniff the scent box that didn’t have objects.
After repeated training, the trainer instructed the dog to sniff the two scent boxes one by one.
When the dog sticks its mouth into the scent box with the target odor and keeps it, we press the clicker to give the dog the biggest reward.
By repeating the above process, the dog handler can increase the number of scent boxes from 2 to 6.
If the dog can accurately put its mouth into the scent box with the target odor every time and keep it, then the dog has already had a strong bond with the odor of the object.