Our Search Dogs
There is no specific breed or size of dog, although generally a medium to large size dog with hunting or herding instincts is best suited for this work. They must be extremely active and healthy. Search dogs endure strenuous work and enjoy the jobs they do. Search dogs must also love people and have a good bond with the handler. These are family dogs that are owned and live with their human partner.
How Search Dogs Work
The human body is constantly shedding skin cells that give off scent. Each person gives off his or her own individual scent. Search dogs are trained to identify and follow each scent trail regardless of terrain.
Tracking dogs will find almost every footstep with nose close to the ground. They are most often used when there is a "place last seen" for the missing person. A scent article, such as a hat or shoe, will tell the dog who they are looking for. Trailing dogs work much the same but will work a wider area with nose higher; not necessarily in the exact footprints.
Air scenting dogs concentrate on the lighter skin rafts blowing on the wind. They work in a grid pattern, sniffing for any human scent. These dogs are used when there is no known "place last seen".
A cadaver dog or human detection dog is one that is looking for a particular level of decomposition in a human body after they pass. This could be a grave site or numerous other areas.
Can a Dog become overwhelmed with the scent coming from the scent article? How much better is the dog's sense of smell than that of a human?
"W. Neuhaus... employed an olfactometer for mixing and delivering odorant samples at very low concentrations. ....he estimated that a dog's ability to detect butyric acid (a component in sweat that smells like dirty socks) is from 1 million to 100 million times better than a human's ability. ....Butyric acid is a prominent feature of the scent picture utilized by dogs.""Neuhaus's findings...of tracker dogs. ....human sweat has about 0.156 per cent of acid of which about one-quarter is aliphatic. If only 1/1000th of this penetrates steadily through the sole and seams of the shoe, it can be calculated that of an acid such as butyric acid, at least 2.5 x 10 to the 11th power molecules would be left behind in each footprint. This is well over a million times the threshold amount for the dog, and could still give a detectable smell when dispensed in 28 cubic meters of air" Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training by Steven R. Lindsay.
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