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How to train dogs for K-9 narcotics and explosives detection
July 7, 2021 at 7:00 AM
How to train dogs for K-9 narcotics and explosives detection

It’s no mystery that dogs are super sniffers compared to humans. This makes them much better at tracking and identifying smells. It’s also why dogs have been used by police forces for more than 100 years to help identify perpetrators, drugs, and explosives. Did you know that bloodhounds were used in the search for Jack the Ripper in 1888? Unfortunately, it was likely a lack of knowledge in training at the time that kept them from finding success.

Nowadays, we can effectively train dogs for work as K-9 narcotic and explosive detection units at Black Creek K-9 Pipeline Leak Detection, LLC. If you’ve ever wondered how this training is done, keep reading as we’ve put together this short guide that explains the process.

What Dog breeds are best?

While most dogs are terrific sniffers, there are some breeds that do it better than others. For example, brachycephalic, or flat-faced dogs, like pugs and English bulldogs aren’t going to have as much success in detection because the shape of their head, throat, and muzzle impedes their ability to smell as well.

As it turns out, dogs that come from what are considered sport breeds are the best for detection. This is because they’ve been bred for thousands of years to aid in hunting so they can sniff out foxes, birds, and other game. Studies that have been completed over the years have found that German shepherds are the superior detection dog as they show a significantly higher motivation to perform than even Labrador retrievers and other shepherd breeds. That being said, bloodhounds are still the standard for detection dogs as they have the highest concentration of scent receptors. Other hounds breeds and pointers also make for excellent detection dogs.

Obedience training

Before any detection training can begin, a dog must first learn how to behave properly when not on a leash. This training involves following unique commands given directly from the handler themselves so others can't confuse the dog. They're also taught how to focus in environments that have a lot of distractions in them. Once obedience training has been completed, detection training can begin.

Detection training

Training a dog for narcotics and explosives detection involves putting specific smells on toys that the dog likes. For instance, a single toy might have methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin on it to help the dog learn the smells. They’re then trained to sit and look at their handler once they’ve identified a specific smell. The sit and look are done rather than barking and drawing attention to the smell, this allows the handler to identify the person holding narcotics or explosives without giving them a chance to leave the area. As the dog progresses in training, it will learn how to find each smell individually and independently from the others.

The process for training a dog to detect explosives is similar to that of narcotics. The main difference is that dogs are required to detect more than just a few odors when it comes to explosives. This requires the dog to be exposed to the new odors every day in order to ensure that familiarity grows over time.

Contact us for more information

If you’d like to learn more about training dogs for K-9 narcotics and explosives detection, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team at Black Creek K-9 Pipeline Leak Detection, LLC is always available to talk about our training and detection services. Get in touch by giving us a call at 817-771-0008 or 253-444-8089. You can also send us an email directly to or send a message through our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.

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