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A Nose for Narcotics: The Low Down on How Sniffer Dogs Are Trained

Ever been in line at the airport and had a dog walk by sniffing luggage with an office? You’ve encountered a sniffer dog. This might seem like an odd way to find drugs, but drug detection dogs are a great way to find drugs without unnecessary searches or tons of technical equipment.

You might find yourself wondering how that process even starts. A dog can learn to fetch, but sniffing out drugs is another task entirely. The process isn’t as complicated as you might expect, but it still works remarkably well.

The Dogs

Not all dogs make for the best sniffer dogs. There are different sniffer dog breeds that work well, but the list isn’t very long. While dogs, in general, have incredible senses of smell and are often trainable, those breeds that lean toward service and an aptitude for training are usually more likely to be selected.

The breeds selected to be sniffer dogs are often shepherds, German or Czech, boarder collies, labrador retrievers, or german shorthair pointers. There are a few more that do well, but generally athletic and task-oriented breeds work best. 

Training 

The training to actually become a drug-sniffing dog is not hard to understand. It doesn’t revolve around treats or an actual interest in drugs. The training begins with and continues to revolve around a toy

Trainers will play with a dog and establish a favorite toy, often a basic towel with no scent to associate with it. Then they will wrap up some cannabis or another substance in the towel so the dog will associate that toy with that scent. Then, when they want to play they will hunt down that towel, or that scent, as a signal that they have their toy. 

This process does take time and involves training for both the dog and the handler. The dog is rewarded with the training of proper procedures on how to behave when detecting that scent, as in some cases they may paw at it, but in the case of explosives detection that would be dangerous so they can’t touch it if they find it.

In the Field

Sniffer dog practice also entails going into different terrains to detect the scent and going to new places. Going into the field to find drugs is different than training, so it is important to make it as similar as possible.

There are companies that train and run narcotic detection programs and can detail how that process looks when called in. It can be different depending on the location and what the dogs are supposed to be looking for.

Super Sniffer Dogs

Using dogs for drug detection may not seem like the most reliable practice, but sniffer dogs do tremendously well and are happy to help. The training is safe and the dogs are not put at risk with exposure to drugs or anything that could harm them when getting the scent down. If you found this information interesting to learn about, keep reading for more animal facts.

Keep Your Dog Smelling Fresh: 3 Tips on How to Bathe Your Dog

Few things are as rewarding as owning a dog. They’re adorable, happy, and they keep you company when no one else is around. On top of all of that, they’re a huge boon to your mental health.

For all the benefits they bring, they also come with a lot of responsibility. You have to feed them and ensure they get enough exercise. You also have to make sure that they stay clean.

You don’t have to pay a groomer to bathe your dog, though. Read on to learn how to do it yourself!

1. Find the Right Spot

The first thing you need to do when you’re ready to bathe your own dog is to find the best spot to do it. The first thing you need to consider is the size of your dog. If you have a small chihuahua, then you can probably get away with bathing him in a deep sink.

Larger dogs should be bathed in tubs or outside. Ideally, there’d be a spot to place a restraint to keep your dog from bolting mid-shampoo. If you don’t have a great spot to do it, check around local vets and grooming salons. Many have DIY grooming stations.

2. Help Them Feel Comfortable

Getting a bath isn’t a normal thing for a dog, so you might need to take additional steps to make them feel comfortable. For example, you can acclimate nervous dogs to tubs in the days leading up to a bath by taking them to the tub and giving them treats and praise. Slowly incorporate water until they can calmly be bathed.

If your dog has a hard time staying still during the bath, be sure to have something to keep them busy. Some groomers apply peanut butter to the wall in front of a pet’s mouth to keep them occupied while they’re getting their bath.

Finally, watch the water temp. Water that is too hot or too cold is not going to feel good.

3. Get the Right Shampoo

Shampoo for dogs is just like shampoo for humans. It comes in a wide variety to suit a number of different issues.

Dogs with sensitive or dry skin should utilize a shampoo that contains calming ingredients like oatmeal. Follow up with a nice conditioner to help their fur and skin stay soft and moisturized. Be careful not to get water or shampoo into their eyes or ears.

Dealing with an especially stinky situation like a skunked dog? You’ll need an entirely different plan. Check out https://unionlakepetservices.com/blog/smelly-situation-how-to-get-skunk-smell-out-of-a-dog to learn how to get the stink out.

Now You’re Ready to Bathe Your Dog!

Learning how to bathe your dog is a great way to save money and bond with your sweet pup. The only catch is that you have to make it an enjoyable experience for the both of you. If your dog isn’t used to baths, be sure to reward them throughout the bathing process so they look forward to it in the future.

Are you interested in learning more great ways to bond with your dog and keep him healthy? You’re in the right spot! Check out the rest of our blog for tons of great dog advice!

7 Stimulating Games for Puppies That Help Them Learn

Puppies love to stay busy, which can be exhausting for you. A bored pup is likely to find mischief or develop behavioral issues, like chewing or barking to occupy itself.

Luckily, there are easy options for engaging your pup, from cute dog toys to simple games. When you play mentally stimulating games with your puppy, you can wear them out just as much as a good romp at the dog park would.

Not sure where to start with stimulating games for your puppy? Here are seven easy, fun and engaging games to play with dogs of any age.

Source: Lenti Hill/Shutterstock.com

1.     Puzzle Toy Time

Your puppy loves to solve problems. A puzzle toy is a great way to keep your puppy entertained while letting them use their natural problem-solving ability. A wide variety of puzzle toys are available for your dog, ranging from easy to complex.

Once your pup has mastered an easy puzzle, move on to more advanced challenges. Keep sessions short to avoid frustrating your dog. You should start with no more than 15 minutes, but you can do multiple sessions a day.

Puzzle toys can be plastic, plush, stuffed or even homemade. Try out a variety to see which ones your puppy likes best.

2.     Play Hide and Seek

Just like toddlers, puppies love a good game of hide and seek. This game helps train your dog with the “stay” command while providing mental stimulation.

To play hide and seek with your dog, they’ll need to hold a “stay” command for at least 10 seconds. If you are still training this command, you can play the game with a partner to distract your pup while you hide.

Once you’re well hidden, release your dog and call them toward you. They’ll use their powerful sense of smell to find you. Don’t forget to reward them with treats or praise once they locate your hiding spot.

3.     Name That Toy Game

You can teach your dog more words than just commands. An average dog can learn over 165 different words. Increase your puppy’s vocabulary by teaching them the names of their favorite toys.

At first, you’ll work on teaching your dog the name of each toy. Using one toy at a time, state the toy’s name and reward your dog while they’re interacting with it. Once they’ve learned a few toys, you can begin to challenge them by asking them to pick between toys to identify the one you’re naming.

For an advanced version of this game, you can hide their toys around the room. Then ask your dog to find one. Eventually, your dog will be able to identify which toy they need to sniff out and bring back to you.

4.     Make Eye Contact

You know the power of puppy eyes. One look and you’re ready to cave into whatever their puppy heart desires. You can reverse the trick and train your dog to make eye contact with you.

Eye contact is great for getting your puppy’s attention. It’s a helpful command for interrupting bad behaviors. Eye contact also releases oxytocin in both you and your dog, strengthening your bond. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with forming attachment.

You can easily teach your dog to make eye contact with you. Start by holding a treat to your forehead or in front of your eye. As your dog gets used to looking at the treat, slowly phase it out in favor of a hand signal and verbal command. You can increase the duration of eye contact over time, but don’t push it for more than a few seconds.

5.     Rainy Day Trick Training

Training basic commands with your puppy is both mentally stimulating and essential for good behavior. However, not every command you teach your dog needs to be useful. A great rainy day activity is seeing what tricks you can train your dog to perform.

Let your puppy know you are starting a training session, maybe by placing a box of treats in the room with you. Then reward your puppy every time he interacts with the box. After a while, only reward for the action you want to train, whether that’s standing in front of the box or pushing it around the room.

You can also work on building compound tricks with your puppy to get them to accomplish a task. Dogs can learn to fetch you a bottle of water or close a door once they know some basic commands. These complex tasks boost your dog’s confidence while strengthening your relationship.

6.     Agility or Obstacle Course

For a stimulating game that can also be a physical workout for your dog, consider building an obstacle course or agility track. You don’t need to buy any fancy gear to make a course. Your chairs and other household objects will work just fine.

Typical agility obstacles are jumps, weaving cones and tunnels. Set up one or all of these at a time. Every time you train, alter the order of the obstacles to create additional mental challenges for your puppy.

7.     Find the Treats

Another game that puts your puppy’s nose to the test is playing “find the treats.” They’ll love being able to use their sniffing and scavenging skills to find tasty rewards. Just make sure you put away anything tempting that isn’t dog treats before you start playing. Otherwise, you may find your dog goes off course, and you’ll end up googling “why do dogs like socks” because he’s into your sock drawer rather than playing your game.

When you first play “find the treats” with your puppy, don’t hide them. Simply place them on surfaces around the room. Tell your dog to “find the treats” and offer praise when they start eating them. Once they’ve figured out what the game is all about, you can start hiding the treats in more challenging locations.

Mix It Up

Your puppy loves variety. Keep things interesting by mixing up your routine with these 7 stimulating games for puppies. In the process, both of you are sure to learn some new tricks.

How to Choose Between a Purebred and Mixed Breed Puppy

Purebred dogs are often considered the gold standard. They’re bred for a set of characteristics, and if you use a good breeding, you know what you’re getting. You also pay a premium for that service. Mixed breed dogs are truly a mixed bag, but they may enjoy hybrid vigor and are generally more affordable. So which option is right for you? Here are a few tips on how to choose between a purebred and mixed breed puppy.


Know What You Want from the Dog It Will Become

Purebred dogs are often born for a given skill set. They have the body type and instincts to do something. For example, golden retrievers may retrieve anything that falls into the swimming pool including your toddler. Sheep dogs will herd anything but especially sheep. Some training may still be required, but that involves teaching them commands and practicing to hone their existing abilities. On the other hand, you may not be able to train a born hunting dog not to chase anything that looks like prey.

In contrast, almost any dog can be a well-behaved companion for your family with a little training. This means that mixed breed puppies are fine if you want a dog for your kids to play with or to keep your mother company. Many mixed breed puppies could be trained to serve as watch dogs, too. In these cases, a cheaper mixed-breed dog is fine. But if you want a dog for a specific task like a hunting dog or show dog, get a purebred puppy.

Know the Risks that Come with Each Option

While not all mixed-breed dogs are healthy, they are not prone to the health problems that can come from the de facto inbreeding that comes with purebred dogs. That is why purebred dogs need to be carefully inspected by a vet before you buy them. Use this educational website when looking for a purebred puppy. You’ll want to find reputable breeders who only breed and sell healthy dogs. But learn what health problems a given breed may be prone to so that you can watch out for it.

While purebred dogs are ten times more likely to suffer from conditions like hip dysplasia and kidney disease, mixed breed puppies are at greater risk of other things. They are more likely to suffer from patent ductus arteriosis and ruptured cruciate ligament. They are also more likely to be hit by cars, since they are less likely to have refined instincts.

Mixed breeds are also more likely to suffer from infectious diseases than purebred breeders. That’s because purebred breeders won’t allow infectious diseases to go untreated. On the other hand, the puppy mill owner doesn’t care.


Understand How the Dog Will Fit Your Lifestyle

Purebred dogs have better defined personalities and abilities, whereas mixed-breed dogs are literally a mix. However, you can make reasonable assumptions with any dog based on an assessment of the dog. Is the dog highly anxious? It may or may not be a good guard dog with training, but it probably shouldn’t be left alone all day. Is the dog calm and relaxed? It might be a good companion, but you’ll still need to find out if it is good with kids. Does the dog come from a large breed or have two large parents? Then you probably shouldn’t pick it if you live in an apartment. An active dog needs to be walked regularly, and it will be happier if regularly played with. If you just want to let it out to pee on the grassy patch in your backyard, you shouldn’t get a more active breed.

Helping Your Rescue Dog with Separation Anxiety

It is very unfortunate when dogs become abandoned from a previous home. Reasons
for abandonment can be anywhere from living arrangements that are conducive for a
dog, financial issues, or a job change.


Whatever the case, shelters can get overrun with dogs who are looking for a second
chance for a forever home. If you have rescued a dog, there is the possibility they might
experience separation anxiety because of previous abandonment.


If your dog has minor or severe anxiety, there are ways to help them overcome the
stressful time they are going through. Helping a dog become relaxed in their new
environment will take lots of patience, love, and understanding from the new parent or
foster guardian.


Schedule keeping helps dogs to thrive so they can learn the new rules easier. Establish
a routine that works for you and your dog. When you first bring home your rescue, it is
recommended to take time off from work so you can build a new-found relationship.
Your constant presents during the first few weeks will certainly help them settle in more quickly.


The first few weeks after bringing your pet home could be the most difficult. Be prepared
for physical problems caused by stress. Bonding with your new dog doesn’t happen
overnight and it will take time to achieve.


For a rescue dealing with minor separation anxiety; do not make a big deal when you
are arriving home or departing. Even though it’s hard, and they are excited to see you,
ignore them for the first few minutes. Then pet them calmly as a reward.
Remember when you were younger and scared of something, you grabbed a stuffed


animal or a soft blanket to cuddle with that made you feel better? If you are leaving for
hours at a time, give your dog a piece of clothing you have worn recently, think of it as
acting like a security blanket for them.


A more severe case of separation anxiety can be harder to fix.


Teach them the basic sit, stay, and lay down commands. Be sure to use positive
reinforcement while training. After they have learned those commands, step up their
training a bit. Bring them to a sit, or lay down position, give the stay command, then
proceed to a different room. This type of training technique will help your dog learn it is
okay to remain calm in one place.


While you are training your dog, create a word or an action of a sort to use whenever
you are leaving the premises. The word or action lets them know you will be back later.
Research shows that music or background noise helps calm a dog while you are away.
The noise helps to distract them from the outside world such as people entering the
building if you live in an apartment complex, nearby construction sounds, and especially
the mailman arriving can cause distress to your dog.


So, what noises should you play in your home to help lower their heart rates while you
are away? Classical music has a soothing effect on dogs. After a few days, switch up
the music to a good soft rock station, and reggae is also a great genre to help reduce
stress.
Helping your rescue become relaxed in their new environment will take time. Some
dogs are easier than others when becoming accustomed to a new home. Remember to
start slow, and try not to over-stimulate them. Dogs can pick up on your mood, if you


remain calm and in control, they will sense that calmness.
If your rescue was used to being by themselves for a large amount of time, or even
living on the streets, look out for food aggression. Warning signs include growling and
showing teeth. A higher aggression dog will lunge or snap when approached.


Give your new dog their personal space when they seem too stressed out. If you have
children, make sure to have them respect the dog’s space as well. A cornered dog
could lash out as a defense mechanism.


Be patient if your rescue is having problems regarding potty training issues. Take them
outside in the morning and every two hours. Do not punish your dog if you catch them in
the middle of the act. Interrupt them by making a startling noise, but do not scare them.
Take them directly outside to their designated area and praise them with a treat as
positive reinforcement. Remember that it will take them a while to become accustomed
to new rules.


Watch out for escape attempts. Take special precautions when opening your door so
the dog is not able to squeeze through and escape. If you have a backyard fence, make
sure the barrier is high enough so the dog cannot jump over. Also, check for loose
boards that they’d be able to get through. Be sure to not leave them unattended in the
yard.


Give your dog toys to occupy themselves during the day so they are not bored. Take
long walks and play with them to burn off pent-up energy. Attend an obedience school,
or higher a personal trainer to help you build skills and form a bond with your new best
friend.


If you decide to use an over-the-counter calming aid, remember to consult your
veterinarian first. Your dog may be allergic to something you didn’t know about, which
could cause their stress level to rise.


Dogs of any breed can develop anxiety. However, not all rescues have separation
anxiety. According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,
evidence shows there is no conclusive reasoning why dogs develop it. Show your dog
love through this difficult time in their lives, and be a confident pack leader for them.


Watch your dog’s body language. Relaxed ears, a wagging tail, and wet kisses display
signs that your rescue is now comfortable in their new home. Building a good friendship
takes time and patients, so above all, enjoy your new best friend, smile often, laugh a
lot, and create good memories together.

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