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Can Dogs Smell Pot Brownies?
Drug detection dogs are highly trained pooches that use their super sniffers to smell out all kinds of odors, ranging from illicit drugs, money, pests, explosives, and even lost humans. Whether at the airport, a train station, or even just a mall, it is likely that you have seen a drug-detection dog.
As marijuana use has been increasingly legalized in states and municipalities, the popularity of edible marijuana has also increased. One may wonder whether these sniffer dogs have been keeping up with the Joneses.
The answer to whether dogs can smell weed brownies is, undoubtedly, yes! However, a lot of drug-detection training agencies, including law enforcement agencies, are increasingly refusing to teach dogs to sniff out marijuana and retiring dogs that can. Read on to find out more!
Signs Your Dog Can Smell Marijuana Brownies
If you're watching a drug-detection dog do their thang, you'll probably notice that they are super-alert and on their game. A wagging tail and hanging, panting tongue are also probably noticeable as they wait for their handler's guidance.
Some dogs are trained to alert their handler through barking, while others are not. A dog's "alert" really depends on the handler. Common "alerts" include: touching their noses to the area where the drugs are hidden, sitting in front of the location and staying there until their handler comes by, or digging/pawing at the location of the scent. You may also witness a sniffer dog sit or lie down in front of a location or object. If marijuana or another substance is found, the dog is given their reward, usually a treat or a toy.
Further, even if your pup isn't a trained drug-detection dog, dogs are extremely observant creatures and are in tune with their environments. Dogs tend to gather a lot of information based on their human's behavior, mood, posture, emotions, and odors.
For instance, when humans consume alcohol or marijuana, humans may exhibit behavioral changes. You could be loud, sleepy, or clumsy. So even if your dog cannot identify the scent of a marijuana brownie, it is highly likely your pup notices your behavioral changes and knows something is up.
The History Behind Dogs Smelling Marijuana Brownies
Wolves are capable of smelling prey from a mile away. As descendants from wolves, generations of drug-sniffing dogs have a powerful sense of smell, usually reserved for sniffing prey.
Dogs have up to 300 million scent receptors in their noses, while us humans have around 5 million. The fact that dogs can smell a ton of odors all at once leads users and dealers of marijuana to take a second thought before bringing cannabis to the border. Dogs rely on scents wafting from objects, including THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana.
However, as states are increasingly legalizing marijuana use, police and other law enforcement officers are not training drug-detection dogs to detect marijuana. Further, dogs that have been trained to detect marijuana are being retired. Instead, drug-detection training has become focused on the detection of hard drugs, like heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, or methamphetamine.
The Science Behind Dogs Smelling Marijuana Brownies
Dogs are designed (and fully capable) to sniff out everything in their line of vision. Dogs have the innate ability to not just sniff out low-intensity smells, but also separate smells from others that would be difficult for us humans to even catch a whiff of.
These super sniffers have special capabilities, allowing them to discern scents from one another as different scents are taken through the left and right nostrils. The part of a dog's brain responsible for analyzing smells is, proportionally, 40 times greater than our own. Once air enters a dog's nostril, it encounters a fold of tissue that diverts the air along two separate channels; one is used for breathing and the other route is used to analyze scent.
Dogs take in new smells through the right nostril, which connects to right side of the brain. When dogs inhale a scent they are more familiar with through the left nostril, it immediately connects with the logical, left side of their brain and gives them remembered information about the particular scent.
However, it is important to note that some breeds are simply better at smelling than other breeds, such as Bloodhounds or German Shepards.
Training Your Dog to Smell Marijuana Brownies
The National Narcotic Detector Dog Association is a nonprofit organization that usually handles the certifications for drug-detection dogs. Certifications exist for a number of sniffing abilities, ranging from police units, body searches, explosive devices searches, and drug searches. However, certification through the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association requires the dog and trainer to be a part of the Federal Armed Forces or Armed Force reserves.
If you are interested in training your dog to utilize it's sniffer to the best of its ability, there are a number of private organizations you can reach out to. Generally, they are known for providing drug detection training for parents, businesses, and halfway houses. These dogs go through vigorous training that enables them to detect marijuana and cocaine; however, you have the option to certify your dog in the detection of other drugs as well.
If you decide you want to give personally training your dog a try, remember that training, especially though positive reinforcement, takes time and patience. You can use "alert" terms like search or find, but make sure you give your pup a reward for for their find. Over time, make it harder for your pup to find the item.
By Olivia Gerth
Published: 06/10/2018, edited: 04/06/2020
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