Dogs have an incredibly keen sense of smell. Combine this with their inquisitive nature and desire to please, and you have one powerful smell detector.
Dogs aren’t naturally attracted to smells like marijuana. Police dogs are trained from a young age to alert to whatever substances the trainer has selected for their work. This begins by training the dog to associate the desired smell with fun. Usually, the trainer uses a desirable toy or towel that is free of any scents. They develop a bond with the dog and work to make that toy the dog’s favorite. Then the desired scent is added to the toy to make the link in the dog’s brain between the smell and the joy they get from playing with their favorite toy. At this point, the trainer will start to hide or conceal the toy, and reward the dog with playtime once the toy is discovered.
There are many ways to train a dog for scent work. Hunting dogs are trained to detect specific smells and follow a scent trail. Dogs can also be trained to detect human ailments like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Clostridium difficile, malaria, blood sugar changes and more.
Certain breeds of dogs are usually preferred for scent work. Bloodhounds, basset hounds, German Shepherds, Labradors, Malinois, Pointers and Coonhounds are some of the most popular choices. They have the most acute sense of smell that has been further refined through years of selective breeding.
Repetition and reward is key for any type of dog training. With the right canine partner, the possibilities are endless. While it’s not likely that your pup will naturally be drawn to the scent of cannabis, these animals are highly sensitive and they use smell to understand the world around them. Regardless of whether cannabis is out in the open, inside a vape cartridge, or concealed in a smell-proof container a dog trained for scent work will be able to detect it.