Can Dogs Smell Ecstacy Pills?

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Introduction

If you’ve ever been through an airport, then you may recall seeing sniffer dogs at work. Such dogs are trained to a high level to be able to sniff out many different kinds of smells from contraband to drugs such as ecstasy pills. Therefore, we now know that the answer to whether dogs can smell drugs is yes. 

A dog can even smell drugs that have been swallowed. We’ll take a look at what kinds of drugs dogs can sniff out and how they are able to do this.

Signs that Dogs Can Smell Ecstasy

As we are all too aware, dogs have an outstanding sense of smell. As an owner, you will know when your dog has picked up on a scent that they have tracked down. Usually, a dog will ignore what you are saying to them and whatever is happening around them and wander off in their own direction. Their nose will be in the air or on the ground, and they will breathe in and out quickly. 

A professional dog who is trained to sniff out drugs such as Ecstasy will start to display a certain behavior if they smell whatever they are trained to smell. Usually, this means they will sit next whatever they can smell the drug on.

Dogs are also able to understand human body language such as head and eye movements, and when combined with their smelling abilities, this all helps when it comes to smelling drugs such as Ecstasy that may have been ingested. Dogs display many different signs to alert that they have discovered a scent such as sniffing, barking, staring, being alert, or tilting their heads.

Body Language

Some obvious cues that your dog may give if they've detected a scent include:
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Head tilting
  • Sniffing

Other Signs

More signs that your dog smells ecstasy or some other trained scent are:
  • Sitting where the drugs are
  • Excited behavior
  • Unbreakable focus

The History of Dogs and Smelling Ecstasy

Dogs had started to be used by law enforcement agencies in the US by the 1970s. They were trained to be able to smell out various illegal substances such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and crack cocaine. At a later date, they were trained to sniff out methamphetamine and Ecstasy.

Although not all dogs are trained to sniff out Ecstasy pills, the ones that are trained are those that are usually focused on shipping ports rather than casual users. Dogs don’t give much attention to drugs in general, and in fact, it’s only when they have been instructed to sniff something out by their handler that they go into search mode.

The Science of Dogs Smelling Ecstasy

The fact that dogs have such an amazing sense of smell has meant that this has always been a hot topic when it comes to scientific research. Therefore, we are quite aware of why dogs are so good at smelling drugs such as Ecstasy using their noses, compared to humans.

A dog uses its wet nose to take on smells and some breeds of dogs are known for their smelling abilities more than others, take, for example, Bloodhounds. These dogs also have long ears that act like a broom, and these dogs can, therefore, sweep any smells up towards their noses.

When a smell hits a dog’s nose, it hits a tissue that then sends this smell along two different paths. One of these paths is used to analyze the smell, while the other path is used for breathing. Humans have 6 million olfactory receptors in their noses where dogs have 300 million, so it’s easy to understand why dogs have the advantage over us when it comes to smelling things out. Even when we consider the part of a dog’s brain that is for smelling, it is 40 times bigger than ours, and again, it’s clear why a dog’s sense of smell is so many better than ours.

Training Dogs to Smell Ecstacy

Dogs have been trained to locate drugs to help the police, border patrol, and airport authorities. As a dog’s sense of smell is so astute, they are able to smell drugs such as Ecstasy pills even when they are wrapped in plastic or foil. Usually, dogs that are suitable to be trained as sniffer dogs like to play games, and this is where training a dog becomes easier. A dog that likes to play usually enjoys rewards.

  • To begin with, play with your dog with a ball and don’t focus on anything else that is around. If you don’t have a ball, then you can use a toy or a rolled-up towel, so long as it’s something that the dog enjoys playing with.

  • You need to teach the dog how to play fetch and allow them the chance to grab the object that you are playing with and bring it back to you. You may need to start with the dog being on a leash so that they bring the object back to you.

  • It won’t be long until your dog realizes that by bringing the object back to you, the game will continue.

  • Next, you will need to place the object in a box or a bag along with the Ecstasy pills.

  • Allow the dog time to smell the scented object. Once you can see that the dog has interest in the object, ask the dog to ‘sit’ as this will then become the sign to show that they have found the Ecstasy pills. 

  • As soon as the dog sits, give the dog a reward - and this is to play with the object.

  • Sitting is the usual sign that is used, but it may be that you can teach the dog to bark, lie down, or scratch if this suits the dog better.

  • With time you will need to remove the object and replace it with only the Ecstasy pills.

  • Each time that you want the dog to locate the Ecstasy tablets, you will need to begin by using the command ‘search.’

  • Like before, as soon as the dog is able to locate the Ecstasy pills and shows you the sign that they have done so, you will need to reward the dog with their treat.

  • Until now, the Ecstasy pills should have been hidden in easy-to-find places. Now you will need to make finding the Ecstasy pills harder.

  • Finally, remember to always reward the dog once they have found the Ecstasy pills.

Safety Tips for Having Your Dog Smell for Ecstasy:

  • Make sure there is no chance your dog will consume the tablets.
  • Get a special leash or harness to let others know your dog is working and not to be distracted.
  • Enroll in professional training if it seems like your dog has a real knack for detecting contraband.