If you're wondering what fentanyl is and why dogs are sniffing it out, allow us to explain.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is super similar to morphine - but it's about 50 to 100 times more potent. This is a prescription drug that is used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically intolerant to other types of opioids. Why is this bad?
Unfortunately, people use these drugs illegally and not for medical purposes and the drugs are wildly unpredictable and can cause overdose and death after just one use. But dogs who are specially trained are being used to sniff out the bad drugs and report them to the police. How do dogs sniff out fentanyl and how are they trained to do it? We've got all the info you need here!
Signs Your Dog is Smelling Fentanyl
Dogs who aren't trained to detect drugs but pick up on a weird scent might try to alert you to the substance by sniffing their noses high in the air, or following a scent with their noses pressed to the ground. Additionally, your dog might ignore you, other people, and dogs around them in order to hunt down the source of the scent. They might naturally paw, claw, bite, or scratch at where the scent is coming from to bring your attention to it, too.
- Tail tucking
- Pupils dilated
- Whale eye
- Slow breathing
- Stopped breathing
- Lethargy and sedation
The History of Drug Detection Dogs
With the capabilities of dogs' noses, it's no surprise that people have quickly caught on to implementing dog skills into our daily activities. It should come as even less of a surprise that law enforcement, government, and military organizations use dogs to help sniff out important things like drugs, bombs, guns, and more.
One of the first instances of this was in the late 1880s when Bloodhounds were used by the London police force to help sniff out and capture Jack the Ripper. Another well-known instance of this in history is when the US military used dogs to sniff out bombs laid out by the Germans in North Africa during World War II.
The Science Behind the Sniffer
Dogs don't just have us beat on airway channels though, they also have up to 300 million olfactory receptors on their noses. To put that into perspective, humans have about 6 million. Additionally, their olfactory cortex, which leads their brain function, is about 40 times greater than humans, too. This ensures that dogs have an acute sense of smell that beats humans out by about 10,000 - 100,000 times.
Training Your Dog to Detect Drugs
If you'd like to just train your pup to detect stuff at home with the power of his sniffer, then we can give you a few tips to help you train your pooch to be the best pup detective he can be. First, introduce the idea of play as a reward. Make sure your dog understands basic obedience commands, and when he or she does the correctly, give your dog a toy as their reward.
As soon as your dog understands that a good thing gets them playtime, introduce the next step - hiding the playtime toy from them. When your dog finds the toy, reward them with - you guessed it - playtime! Once your dog has mastered this, introduce the scent with the toy. Hide the particular scent you want your dog to detect with the toy and reward your pup with play time when they find it.
Gradually, make the hiding spots more difficult and remove the toy from the equation so your dog is simply sniffing out the particular scent. As always, reward your dog with the toy when they accomplish this task.
How to React if Your Dog Sniffs Out Drugs:
Listen to what your dog is telling you.
Don't ignore your dog's attention-grabbing behaviors, they're probably trying to alert you to an issue.
If you find an illegal substance, report it to the authorities.
Consider training your dog to be a drug detection dog.