We know how intelligent dogs are and that they can be trained to scent out illegal substances, weapons, money, and a whole lot more. The fact that a dog can smell a range of things is extremely useful when combating crime. This ability has enabled law enforcement establishments to be able to get one step ahead of criminals and it’s usually military or police dogs that are given this kind of training.
We know that dogs can sniff out drugs, but let’s look at how well dogs are able to sniff out frozen weed.
Signs Dogs Can Detect Frozen Weed
We are all fully aware of how amazing a dog’s sense of smell actually is. As a dog owner, you will know when your dog has picked up on a scent and begins to follow it. You can call their name, call them to ‘stop,’ or even ask them to ‘come here,’ and you’ll still be ignored! Your dog has a desire to track down whatever they can smell and that’s all they can focus on.
When we take a look at dogs who have been specially trained to sniff out scents, such as weed that has been frozen, they will indicate specific signs when they have detected that they have found the scent that it gives off. This may be that they sit next to the scent, or they begin to paw at the location where they have found it.
In terms of other signs, you will be able to see the dog, barking, tilting its head, sniffing, staring, and being alert. Additionally, a dog will ignore you and any commands that you give them, their nose will be in the air or on the ground at the location of the scent, they may inhale and exhale quickly, and their focus will be targeted towards the scent.
History Behind Dogs and Smelling Frozen Weed
Since the 14th century, dogs have been used for security and policing reasons, but more so for hunting and guarding, simply because of their astute sense of smell. From the 1970s onward, dogs had started to be used to sniff out explosives and drugs such as crack cocaine, cocaine, heroin, and weed. Later, methamphetamine and ecstasy were also drugs that detection dogs were trained to sniff out.
That said, more recently, dogs have had to be retrained in accordance with regulations and laws that have changed. For instance, weed became legalized in 2012 in Washington, if it was being used for recreational purposes. This meant that dogs that had been trained to sniff out weed, in any form, had to be desensitized so that they no longer sniffed out marijuana and any training going forward eradicated weed detection.
That being said, weed is still banned in many countries and states, and criminals have started getting creative with trying to avoid detection. This means that in recent times, dogs have had to be trained for detection in things like water (or freezers), in post or mail, as well as hiding in various parts of a car.
Science Behind Dogs Smelling Frozen Weed
Scientists have always been fascinated with a dog’s ability to smell and how they can sniff out substances, such as frozen weed, far better than we can. Dogs use their soft, sponge-like noses to grab hold of scents that are traveling through the atmosphere. Some breeds of dogs that are well known for their ability to smell have the physiology that enables them to smell even better than other breeds of dogs.
Anything that gives off a scent can usually be picked up by a dog, even if it’s not detectable by humans. Once a dog has learned a scent, they will find it easier to detect it in the future. Dogs are trained to learn how to pick up on scents and are rewarded for their ability to do so. Training usually involves making an association with a scent and being given a reward. For example, if a dog is able to detect a specific scent and alert their handler that they have located the scent, the dog is then rewarded for this.
Scientifically, the reason dogs can smell frozen weed is because the scent is trapped in the ice so, it’s not actually covered or hidden (contrary to popular belief). This means that the scent lingers and although is not as prominent, it is still detectable by the expert sniffer.
Training a Dog to Smell Frozen Weed
A dog that is able to sniff out frozen weed doesn’t necessarily like the smell of weed or are addicted to the smell; it is more to do with the fact they have been trained to realize that if they can detect the odor of frozen weed, they will receive a reward for doing so. This reward could be a toy or a game - or even a tasty treat. Dogs that are trained to sniff out frozen weed really make the detection process much easier, as they are able to track and trace at the same time - a well-trained dog is a useful asset when combating crime.
It can take a few months to train a dog to focus, identify and alert when they have located frozen weed, for instance. Dogs are trained to be able to confidently search in various settings and are rewarded when they display the desired behaviors throughout their training.
Certain breeds of dogs are selected to be trained as detection dogs such as German Shepherds or Labradors, as they naturally have the kind of temperament that is required for training. Additionally, they also have a natural prey instinct and they enjoy seeking out whatever they have been trained to locate. A dog selected for detection training must also have the ability to work well as part of a team.
When a dog is first trained, they will be rewarded as soon as they show any sign that they have sensed or smelled the frozen weed. As they progress through the training program, the dog will only be rewarded if they can actually alert their handler to the place that they have scented out the frozen weed. Additionally, they will receive an extra reward if they are able to signal using the appropriate method that they have been trained to do, such as; staring, touching with their nose, staying, or sitting.
By Charlotte Ratcliffe
Published: 05/22/2018, edited: 04/06/2020