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Students Learn the Science behind K9 Scent Work
Students Learn the Science behind K9 Scent Work
Posted on 02/20/2020
 Students watch K9 scent work ssembly.

Dresden 4th-6th grade students learned the science behind the use of working scent dogs during an assembly with Mrs. Marina Suggs and her 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, Shark.  Mrs. Suggs taught the students that dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses.  That is 40 times greater than humans!  This allows dogs to find scents at a much lower concentration than people can.  To demonstrate this feat Mrs. Suggs put a single drop of birch oil, which Shark is trained to locate, on a cotton swab and put it in a container.  They then left the demonstration area and the container was placed in a backpack, that neither handler nor dog and seen before, and was mixed up with several other backpacks.  Upon returning to the gym Shark was commanded to find the scent.  Shark was able to locate the backpack and alert his handler.  He was able to again locate the same backpack after the item was removed and the backpacks were moved by student volunteers based on the small residual scent that lingered showing that even though an item is no longer there the dog can still locate the scent. 

Shark also demonstrated that he could locate a scent if a person has an item in their pocket or on them in some other way even in a large room filled with many people.  Three teacher volunteers came to the front of the gym and one had the container.  Shark was able to correctly alert his handler to the teacher holding the container.

Mrs. Suggs, a teacher and 15-year dog trainer, explained how it takes years of hard work and dedication, daily training sessions, and a huge amount of trust between dog and handler to train a dog to do scent work.  She taught the students that even though it is a lot of work that it brings mental and physical stimulation to the dog which improves their quality of life and brings them joy.

The students learned the many jobs that are available to scent dogs in law enforcement agencies, airports, military, medical settings, as well as private firms.  Scent dogs can be used by law enforcement agencies in search and rescue missions, finding drugs, vape pens, money, explosive devices, etc.  Airports use scent dogs to find illegal substances, animals, plants or food that are being smuggled into the country.  Private companies may employ dogs to find bed bugs or other invasive insects.  Scent dogs are used in medical settings to detect cancer or to alert an owner to an impending seizure.       

The students enjoyed learning about scent dogs and the many jobs they assist with every day.