Arson Dogs and other detection dogs -What do you know about them?

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Arson Dogs and other detection dogs -What do you know about them?

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Old 03-01-2012, 08:07 PM
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Arson Dogs and other detection dogs -What do you know about them?

Hello! I've become very interested in the training and use of Arson and other detection dogs. I'll be 18 here in another month and graduating high school at the end of this school year. I've always loved animals, and I seem to have a real knack with dogs. I'd like to look into what it takes to get into this field. I love working with dogs in obedience and trick training, and I have become interested in detection dogs. I have looked up TONS of articles on them, I'm just curious to hear if anyone here has had any personal experience working with, training, or witnessing these service dogs! I'm just looking for any and all information! Thank you!
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:13 PM
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I train cadaver dogs, tracking, and narcotic dogs. We will be starting an arson dog this coming fall. These dogs are truly amazing, and LOVE to work! Is there anything specific you would like to know?
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:30 PM
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I train cadaver dogs, tracking, and narcotic dogs. We will be starting an arson dog this coming fall. These dogs are truly amazing, and LOVE to work! Is there anything specific you would like to know?
Oh my goodness!!! Really?! That's fantastic! Oh my gosh, what do I want to know? ..... EVERYTHING! Haha Just kidding -kinda!

  • How does an average day for you go? I know each day is different because of the training process and different personalities of the dogs and such -but just a kind of a overall picture.
  • How did you get into this field?
  • What kind of certifications do you need to train these great service dogs?
  • And one that's always kind of had my curiosity... What do you use to train your cadaver dogs? You use them to search out deceased people correct? What do you use as your example smells to teach them?
  • Oh! And another one that's got me stumped. I have been looking into how to train Arson dogs. They say you need to use 50% evaporated gas? Why is that? I doesn't make any scientific sense to me, but I've seen it on TONS of sites.
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:06 PM
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Right now I have three in training, on cadaver. All of the training aids are human remains, bone, teeth, tissue, placenta. Depending on your state, there are different regulations for possession.

Most of the dogs need super high drives, hunt and prey (or toy). You begin by introducing the scent in a container that the dog can smell, but not access the remains. As soon as interest is shown, reward! Major party! When the dog associates the scent with reward, you add an alert. (Cadaver, bomb, arson, prefer a passive alert as sit or down). When this is mastered, you begin adding distance. Narcotic dogs can work closely beside the handler, bomb and cadaver (HRD) dogs need to learn to range well. Disaster dogs must go work out of sight of the handler.
Once the basic scent is imprinted, problems like buried, high finds, and distraction odors are added. The dogs must work reliably in any situation, with other animals present, equipment and machinery running, many people and events going on. The dog must remain completely focused, cross any surface, and remain confident, all for a game of tug or ball tossed. Temperament and drive, strong nerves are essential!

Anyone can train this, you just have to make it through certifications. Of course for narcotics you must legally have access lol. NAPWDA is a great organization to work with and view their test requirements.

I'm not sure on the evaporated gas, I will try to find out. Scent is scent regardless, and basic training is much the same. Always make it fun! I don't use corrections when training. This is a game, and the way for them to have fun, is to learn why gets the reward the fastest. Timing is critical. Don't push the dog, and keep them wanting more.

Typical day is about 4-6 hours on scent work, for around 4-6 dogs. Usually we set a track, set out remains, narcotics, run a puppy track, and begin sections running hides. Puppy tracking in between. This is done about 4 or 5 days a week. Add in ranging drills, drive building, obedience, its pretty much full time lol.
I have Belgian malinois and Dutch shepherds, they are awesome dogs for detection.
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:35 PM
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Right now I have three in training, on cadaver. All of the training aids are human remains, bone, teeth, tissue, placenta. Depending on your state, there are different regulations for possession.
Oh boy, and are these acquired through people who donate their body to science or something like that? Very interesting, I mean you need the legit thing if you're going to train them on it!

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Most of the dogs need super high drives, hunt and prey (or toy). You begin by introducing the scent in a container that the dog can smell, but not access the remains. As soon as interest is shown, reward! Major party! When the dog associates the scent with reward, you add an alert. (Cadaver, bomb, arson, prefer a passive alert as sit or down). When this is mastered, you begin adding distance. Narcotic dogs can work closely beside the handler, bomb and cadaver (HRD) dogs need to learn to range well. Disaster dogs must go work out of sight of the handler.
Once the basic scent is imprinted, problems like buried, high finds, and distraction odors are added. The dogs must work reliably in any situation, with other animals present, equipment and machinery running, many people and events going on. The dog must remain completely focused, cross any surface, and remain confident, all for a game of tug or ball tossed. Temperament and drive, strong nerves are essential!
I see this makes sense! So do you also have to teach the dog how to maneuver through difficult terrain? Do you set up course? To teach them about crowds, do you take them to parks and public places with lots of people?

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Anyone can train this, you just have to make it through certifications. Of course for narcotics you must legally have access lol. NAPWDA is a great organization to work with and view their test requirements.
Thank you! So would it be best to try and find someone in the area to intern under first? I know with getting other certifications in lets say basic obedience -you must have close to 300 hours of training experience first with 3 different references, client, vet, co-worker and so on. That's before you can even take their test.

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I'm not sure on the evaporated gas, I will try to find out. Scent is scent regardless, and basic training is much the same. Always make it fun! I don't use corrections when training. This is a game, and the way for them to have fun, is to learn why gets the reward the fastest. Timing is critical. Don't push the dog, and keep them wanting more.
Thank you! It has my dad and I stumped, because evaporated gas is a physical change -not chemical. So it shouldn't really change the smell or components right? And as far as keeping it a game, I read a blog where someone else said they put a drop of gas in the center of a rag and played with it. They'd play fetch and give the dog a cue to find it and play with it. Once the dog was accustomed to it, they placed a drop of gas on the floor and let it dry. They told the dog to "find their toy". If the dog goes over that one spot and shows a flicker of recognition or interest they gave big praise. They were not professionals like yourself, but I see that the principle is geared to be fun for the dogs.

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Typical day is about 4-6 hours on scent work, for around 4-6 dogs. Usually we set a track, set out remains, narcotics, run a puppy track, and begin sections running hides. Puppy tracking in between. This is done about 4 or 5 days a week. Add in ranging drills, drive building, obedience, its pretty much full time lol.
I have Belgian malinois and Dutch shepherds, they are awesome dogs for detection.
That's great! So do you make your majority living off training these detection dogs? I realize this profession should be entered purely for the love of dogs and NOT for the money. I'm not one of those people who want or need the big fancy lifestyle, but I am curious if one can survive off of it or if I need to do it along with another job. I know when I'm first breaking into that world I'd need another job until maybe I was more established? I also love obedience training also. Do you think it would be good if I started with basic obedience training and worked my way up to working with detection dogs? I really have no idea about that world, so I'm not sure what the best way would be to enter this world. What's more valued in that world? Experience under other trainers or certifications? Both? Or if you have certifications does that say enough -you made it through the program?

Bet ya wished you didn't answer this thread! Sorry haha
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:46 PM
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I have Belgian malinois and Dutch shepherds, they are awesome dogs for detection.
Yes, those are very nice breeds! They are quite close to the German Shepherd aren't they? I've always had GSD's I absolutely LOVE them. My GSD Marlie is turning out to be a fantastic dog. Her predecessor Mia (avatar) was my dog all growing up (from the time I was in the crib till I was 14) She protected me from so many things I can't even begin to tell you! From wildlife, dogs, and people. She is greatly missed. :')
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:16 PM
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The remains must be legally obtained yes. Check into local search and rescue groups, and law enforcement k9 division.
Scened rags and tennis balls are great. Let them get the scent, then restrain the dog, toss the ball in sight, fetch. Then into tall grass, let them use their nose. Then around buildings, then just pretend to throw it, with the toy hidden previously, the dog quickly learns to search by a hand command or word. By increasing time, and difficulty of hides, he will soon learn to search until he finds it. This is where hunt drive is so important. A dog that easily gives up will not work when conditions are tough.

Socialization is important. Yet with a working dog, you want total focus on the task, not the people or dogs in the park. Find a toy he is nuts about, then add distractions. When training you don't want people to pet him, so work around people that understand this.this is where prey or toy drive comes in. No matter what, he has to want that toy more than any attention from people, or play with another dog,

Terrain is more instinct. You want a confident, even pushy dog. Will climb anything, go anywhere. Add stairs, slick surfaces, ladders, planks, water, heights. Agility courses are good to begin on.

Definitely get with experienced trainers. More than obedience, its about how the dogs think, and put things together that you must understand. Its very instinctual. Obedience is more shaping what we want, scent detection is doing what the dog wants. Many detection dogs really don't have much obedience. Then others its very important to safely work off lead.

I have a full time job to support the dog habit lol. SAR is mostly volunteers, so not much to spend on a dog. A good narcotics dog ranges from $2500 to $10,000 on average. That's comparable to explosive and arson dogs. You can make money, but you spend alot of time and money trying to find or raise dogs with the nerve, drives, and ability to be successful. Looking at anywhere from 3 months to a year per dog, add the costs of care, travel, aids, certificates, housing, etc you really have to have a large kennel with a near perfect breeding program to really make a decent living. But its so much fun! Lol
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:22 PM
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Oh, and experience speaks volumes. Some certification is easier to obtain than others. Actually working is another story. Spend as much time as possible watching and listening to many dogs scenting things. Searching for what they value. If you can attend seminars, that's great training. We have one coming up March 12-16, they allow observers.
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:14 AM
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Ok, I asked the evaporation question on the working board, was told that some.compounds evaporate from gasoline or other accelerants, so using the 50% should leave you with a more pure source.
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:33 PM
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Check into local search and rescue groups, and law enforcement k9 division.
Okay! Thank you, this is what I needed. They could point me into the direction of finding local people who work with these sorts of things. And actually, now that you have said this, I know someone who has German Shepherds and works with SAR. She's a retired police officer! I've met her a few times, it's more a friend of a friend. Really nice lady though.

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Scened rags and tennis balls are great. Let them get the scent, then restrain the dog, toss the ball in sight, fetch. Then into tall grass, let them use their nose. Then around buildings, then just pretend to throw it, with the toy hidden previously, the dog quickly learns to search by a hand command or word. By increasing time, and difficulty of hides, he will soon learn to search until he finds it. This is where hunt drive is so important. A dog that easily gives up will not work when conditions are tough.
I see, I have a border collie that lives and breathes for a tennis ball! I mean you so much as mention anything to do with fetching, sticks, or tennis balls and enters the trance! haha However, he's not real big on searching for it. If I throw it in a difficult area, he'll run around for a minute then just sit back because my GSD then starts her patterns in the area sniffing it out. I think if I were going to play with my dogs in training, I'd work with my GSD. She seems to fit the more determined criteria. My BC is just up for the chasing the ball (understandable). haha Do you think it would be okay for me to play with training my dogs in striking on gas? I don't know if I'd ever do any work with them, but I'd like to play with the process a bit.

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Socialization is important. Yet with a working dog, you want total focus on the task, not the people or dogs in the park. Find a toy he is nuts about, then add distractions. When training you don't want people to pet him, so work around people that understand this.this is where prey or toy drive comes in. No matter what, he has to want that toy more than any attention from people, or play with another dog,
Okay, this makes sense!

Quote:
Terrain is more instinct. You want a confident, even pushy dog. Will climb anything, go anywhere. Add stairs, slick surfaces, ladders, planks, water, heights. Agility courses are good to begin on.
Ladders, really?! Wow, haha

Quote:
Definitely get with experienced trainers. More than obedience, its about how the dogs think, and put things together that you must understand. Its very instinctual. Obedience is more shaping what we want, scent detection is doing what the dog wants. Many detection dogs really don't have much obedience. Then others its very important to safely work off lead.
Okay!

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I have a full time job to support the dog habit lol. SAR is mostly volunteers, so not much to spend on a dog. A good narcotics dog ranges from $2500 to $10,000 on average. That's comparable to explosive and arson dogs. You can make money, but you spend alot of time and money trying to find or raise dogs with the nerve, drives, and ability to be successful. Looking at anywhere from 3 months to a year per dog, add the costs of care, travel, aids, certificates, housing, etc you really have to have a large kennel with a near perfect breeding program to really make a decent living. But its so much fun! Lol
Is that difficult? If you have a full time job what time of the day do you work the dogs for 4-6 hours?

Could someone like myself have a trained arson dog and be hired out by say an insurance company to check a burned down house for arson? Does the fire or police department hire private contractors in an arson investigation, or do these departments have their own team of dogs?

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Oh, and experience speaks volumes. Some certification is easier to obtain than others. Actually working is another story. Spend as much time as possible watching and listening to many dogs scenting things. Searching for what they value. If you can attend seminars, that's great training. We have one coming up March 12-16, they allow observers.
I do have a bit of an advantage here. My dad for many, many years had a pack of 10-14 hound dogs that he trained to track bears and mountain lions. He did a lot of work for Fish and Game. He was very good at it too. Because of injuries he's been outta the game for a long time, but people still know his name. Anyways, my point is -he knows how dogs track and scent things also. What region are you located in? Are there certain organizations (besides the one you named) or trainers you can recommend. Or things to look for as far as authenticity or points someone should be emphasizing? (There are a lot of phony's out there). I did find one site where they held online seminars also. (I'd like to see it in real life though.)

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Ok, I asked the evaporation question on the working board, was told that some.compounds evaporate from gasoline or other accelerants, so using the 50% should leave you with a more pure source.
Okay, thank you! I just wasn't sure if that was something that got randomly started or if it was legitimate! Thank you for looking into that!!
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