FAQ about How a Dog’s Nose Works
How Long Can Scent Survive?
© 2007 Missing Pet Partnership. All rights reserved.
The text below is an edited excerpt from MPP founder Kat Albrecht's book DOG DETECTIVES: Train Your Dog to Find Lost Pets. There are many opinions and claims regarding just how long a scent trail can last. Missing Pet Partnership posts this information because some pet owners are hiring pet detectives who claim that their dogs can track a scent trail that is several months old and even up to a year old.
MPP founder Kat Albrecht has spent eighteen years training and working search dogs, observing other search dogs in training, and learning from search dog authorities across the country. She's familiar with aged trail experiments performed by experienced Bloodhound trainers.
Based on her knowledge of what other credible Bloodhound handlers have experienced, her training through the National Police Bloodhound Association (NPBA), and her personal experience in working successful cases with search dogs that she has personally trained and/or worked with, she is comfortable in estimating that in optimal scent conditions (cool, damp areas with heavy vegetation and no wind) a trained trailing dog is probably capable of following a scent trail that is up to three (possibly even four) weeks old.
Keep in mind, however, that even if the scent trail is too old for a search dog to track, a MAR Technician can POTENTIALLY HELP YOU find your lost pet using other methods, including using his or her dog to track a fresher scent trail from a viable sighting.
"The ideal working scent conditions for a trailing dog are cool, moist days with no wind. ( what i have said here on this site too :) Scent will pool, cling, and survive in shady areas and areas with lush vegetation. The moisture provided by lush green grass, the shade of a front porch, or the damp surface of a gutter are all examples of places where residual scent could be present several days after the source of the scent has passed through an area.
Scent survives longer in the cooler conditions found in the evening or early morning hours because lower temperatures will tend to bring the scent back down to ground level.
Hot and dry conditions have a negative impact on scent survival. In these conditions, scent is more easily dispersed and destroyed. Direct sunlight will dry out and quickly destroy scent vapors. In addition to the physical toll that it can take on a trailing dog, heat can also cause scent to rise above the level of where the dog is working.
The key to working a search dog in hot temperatures is to avoid it if you can.
(I too, have advised the same here on Family Disaster Dogs.)
The Scent of Fear of Panic
Search dog handlers have long known that each emotion in a person produces different scents or pheromones (detectable chemical substances) that our dogs are able to detect and follow. Prison dogs are known to be able to detect a criminal who fears getting caught in a crowd of people who are not afraid and area search dogs are able to find lost subjects by smelling panic in the air because a person who is lost soon becomes disorientated, confused and panics.
Qualified K9 Trainers can purchase different scent or pheromones from chemical laboratories that make scents and chemicals for perfume, medical drugs and research. Access to these chemicals is not allowed to the public because of the danger of some of the chemicals available.
A 2011 study published in Science magazine showed that tears act as a chemo signal or a chemical substance detectable by others. Not only did men who sniffed tears (which were brought on by negative emotions) find photographs of women’s faces less attractive, the men also reported that they were less sexually aroused, and the scientific data backed it up.
People can unconsciously detect whether someone is stressed or scared by smelling a chemical pheromone released in their sweat, according to researchers who have investigated the underarm secretions of petrified skydivers.
My Bloodhound Daisy
From The Whole Dog Journal
Below is another great article by a Veterinary about a how a dog’s nose should be cared for and why the nose is so effective in tracking down odors.
Dr. Randy Kidd, DVM, PhD explains “The dog’s nose may be his most powerful organ and it is certainly one of the most dynamic of all animal systems, with activities that range from basic smell detection, to sensing fear, to memory, to emotions, to mate- and pack-selection, on to a genetic history carried from one generation to the next. Fortunately, disease doesn’t often waylay its functional capability, and fortunately again, most of the diseases of the nose are easily treated naturally. You can read more of the article here
A note to visitors,
Family Disaster Dogs Book is online!!
See all my books in paperback and eBook on my Author Page click here
Here's another high recommended book about scent and dogs ( I didn't write it:)