Can Dogs Smell Pot Candy?

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Our favorite canine companions are best known for seeing the world through their noses. A dog’s nose is both accurate and sensitive, and they can smell and detect things far better than we do. This makes them great assets to the police force.

Police dogs are specifically trained to perform a number of tasks, one of the most intriguing being sniffer dogs. They can be trained to search for illegal substances from their smell only.

This begs the question, can dogs smell pot candy? Well, since many of us are able to smell it without any issues, it’s no surprise that they can too!

Introduction of Can Dogs Smell Pot Candy?

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Signs of Dog Smelling Pot Candy

Dogs smelling pot candy aren’t limited to police dogs who were trained to do so—all dogs can have this capability. However, depending on whether it’s just a random pooch or a sniffer dog working for the police force, how they react to it will differ quite a lot.

When a dog picks up a new scent, they will be intrigued by it. If they like it, they will actively search for the source, wag their tail, and be excited and very enthusiastic about it. The telltale signs are the following:

  • Sniffing – When a dog detects pot candy, they will sniff it first to inspect the new smell.

  • Jumping up – If the dog likes this new smell, they might become very enthusiastic about it, and start jumping up and down to show that.

  • Tail wagging – A dog that is interested in something wags their tail very often, so expect to see this with your pooch too.

A trained sniffer dog, however, will react very differently because they are often trained to be very discreet and curb their enthusiasm. They will be:

  • Alert – A trained sniffer dog, once they pick up the scent of pot, will become alert. They will then follow the scent to find the source.

  • Guarding – Once the dog finds the origin of the smell, which is candy in this instance, they will stay in the spot and guard it.

  • Scratching – To indicate the source of smell, a trained dog will often scratch the container: a backpack, bag, or wherever else the candy may be stored.

Body Language

Some signs that a dog has detected pot candy include:
  • Alert
  • Whining
  • Guarding
  • Jumping up
  • Scratching
  • Wag tail
  • Sniffing

Other Signs

More signs to look out for are:
  • Exhibiting trained behaviors
  • Sitting near their find
  • Excited behavior

History of Dogs Smelling Pot Candy

History of Can Dogs Smell Pot Candy?

Dogs have a very long history of tracking and relying on their scent to hunt down prey. This is exactly the behavior that makes them so excellent at detecting a number of substances. Even today, scent dogs are used in detecting animals for hunts. Certain breeds excel at this, and they are favored by hunters, police, and the military to help them track down prey, illegal substances, and even explosives.

Since we have started seeing them as companions thousands of years ago, humans have relied on the dog’s sense of smell to track prey and stay out of harm’s way. The first ever use of sniffer dogs was during the 1940s, when they were trained to sniff out German mines in North Africa.

Fast forward to 1970 and dogs were trained to sniff out a number of different substances— explosives, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and, as time went by, synthetic drugs as well. As we realized that dogs can be trained to detect all kinds of smells, the uses became wider and wider.

Today, dogs' noses are used around the globe to help in crime detection, crime prevention, detection of allergens and diseases, management of pests, and more. For instance, dogs utilized for pest management can detect bed bugs and termites. Dogs can even detect health issues such as diabetes, migraines, seizures, and more.

Science of Dogs Smelling Pot Candy

Science of Can Dogs Smell Pot Candy?

Even though all dogs have a very keen sense of smell, scent dogs are the ones that utilized it in the most optimal way. The breeds excelling the most are Bloodhounds, Beagles, Springer Spaniels, Dachshunds, Foxhounds, and Coonhounds.

All these breeds excel at detection because of how developed their olfactory (scent) receptors are, and the size of their nasal cavities. Most of these breeds also have droopy ears, the working theory being that it helps keep the scent near their noses.

Another interesting trait that they share is their very deep and booming bark, which can easily be tracked over great distances. Genetics indicate that every single breed of scent dog are more closely related to each other than they are with other breeds.

Training of Dogs Smelling Pot Candy

Training of Can Dogs Smell Pot Candy?

As with any other type of training, the most important aspect of scent training is to focus on positive reinforcement. The aim of training is to teach the dog that they will be rewarded when they pick items with a specific scent. In the case of pot candy, this would be the smell of marijuana. 

Professional trainers most commonly start with neutral smells—a clean towel is a perfect training item, for instance. The dog is trained to retrieve the towel. Once the dog is familiar with the towel, it is presented a new towel that is infused with the smell of marijuana.

To get the dog to retrieve only this towel, both the scented and unscented towels are thrown at the same time, and the dog only gets praise and rewards when they retrieve the scented one. Once the dog gets this, the towel is switched for another item infused with the smell. This way, the dog learns to associate the rewards with the smell only, instead of the look and feel of the object smelling this way.

One interesting fact is that more and more sniffer dogs are now trained to ignore the smell of pot, since it has been legalized in so many jurisdictions. To make sure the dog starts ignoring the smell, the same tactics are used during training. When the dog retrieves an item smelling of pot, they are ignored. This might be a bit confusing to dogs at first, as they always got praise before for this find. This is why it’s important to use positive reinforcement through another smell, so they realize the pot smell should be ignored now.

Safety of Dogs Smelling Pot Candy:

  • When dealing with banned substances, you should always take care during training. Get the help of a professional because prolonged exposure in the wrong way can be harmful to your dog.