Explosives Detector Dogs Abilities


Explosive Detector Dogs Abilities

Explosive Detector Dogs have been used by the military as well as Law Enforcement since World War II. The use of detector dogs in general dates back some 12,000 years to their use for hunting. Today, with the proven reliability of a well trained and maintained explosives dog, they have become an invaluable tool for Law Enforcement.  Overall Detector Dogs represent the fastest, most versatile, reliable real-time detection device available today. There are many machines on the market today, but in no way do they come close to the speed, reliable, versatility, of explosive detection dogs.

Explosive Detection dogs today are trained for mine sweeping in the military, to general detection work in a law enforcement setting, to post blast trained dogs. We encourage a close working relationship between the handlers and their local EOD Unit. This relationship can possibly lead to both unit’s proficiency and work standards improving which is a win for all involved as well as the general public.

 Today we train explosives dogs to work on everything from powders, to peroxide base improvised explosives. They are trained in almost every environment imaginable. We use only real material in training, and we also maintain a rotation of explosives to maintain the scent integrity, and reduce risks of material being missed in a search.

 Since 9/11 we have seen the rise in demand for explosives dogs. This of course has led to the many so called trainers dumping dogs on the law enforcement community. The fact is it takes people with actual experience in working an explosives dog in the real world to understand the work, as well as the proficiency required by EOD units and handlers. There is no room for the mistakes as you know, so it is critical for an agency to select a reputable trainer from either inside their own agency or a commercial vendor, who actually has the first hand experience in training/ working an explosives dog as well as the real material to train with.

 Today we are continually working at building and maintaining a solid relationship between many National Organizations, ATF, and reputable trainers. In this relationship, we have incorporated the NORT test (National Odor Recognition Test) from ATF, along with some groups Odor Recognition test as well as an actual operational search test. We require 100% accuracy from the teams.  This efficiency exceeds the industry standard for testing machines which is typically 90-95% accuracy.  Dr. Larry Myers from Auburn University did an extensive research project in this comparison and reliability of each. In the end, the research project showed a properly trained dog can be as or more reliable than a testing machine and certainly more versatile.  They have proven to be a highly cost effective tool for agencies today. This efficiency has carried over from not only the initial cost of the dog versus a machine as well as to the maintenance costs comparison.

Written by:

– Al Gill

  • Retired Explosives Dog Handler. He is also an Explosives Dog Trainer, and Master Trainer of Explosives with National Association of Professional Canine Handlers (NAPCH). He is  Accreditation Chairman on the Executive Board of NAPCH. He is also a Master Trainer of Explosives with American Police Canine Association and serves on it board as education director and accreditation of Explosives .

  • He also has served on the Executive Boards of several other national organizations, and is the former Director of Explosives Training for OLECA( Ohio Law Enforcement Canine Assoc.) he also carries a High Explosives Users License from ATF, and has been involved with canine training/handling since 1985.

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