Scent Detection Training in the Metaverse
The creation of the Top Tier K9 Virtual Dog Training Center was driven by the efforts and research that resulted in the worlds first COVID-19 detection dogs and the resulting virus detection program that prepares dogs for a higher level of communication relating to the olfactory system of the canine and the abilities of the canine handlers to make use of the dogs amazing skills.
Top Tier K9’s unique approach to dog training created the Foundation Dog® and resulted in the US Government recognizing that work and awarding a US Trademark of Foundation Dog to Top Tier K9 through the US Patent and Trademark Office. This process as outlined by the trademark award is a training program for “working dogs” that starts when a puppy is 6-8 weeks old and results in a Foundation Dog: Trained on 50 elements that roll up into 4 distinct functions of tracking, scent detection, advanced obedience and protection through 4 unique phases of training.
The Foundation Dog® training program is the process that created the worlds first COVID-19 detection dogs and afforded Top Tier K9 the opportunity to enhance training programs for all working dogs in a way that benefits the dogs, their handlers and society.
A vital takeaway from the training and development of the COVID-19 detection dogs was the absolute fact that the weakest link in the deployment and maintenance of high-level scent detection dogs, is the handler and handler errors that have now been spotlighted in existing scent detection programs across the world. Many think that a dog works for the actual reward: Food, toy, or praise. Although that is true on the surface, it is far deeper and more complex than that. Dogs work to please the human who then responds with a reward. The dog works with the human relative to a dog being trained and deployed to find bombs, narcotics, bed bugs, and in this case, something as small as a virus.
The dog’s inherent hunt drive, the biological need to find and kill prey (food) is the primary drive used to teach a dog to find a virus (or any specific odor). The dog gets a food reward when they find the specific odor, but the food reward comes from the handler they are bonded to. The communication from the dog to the handler is shown via an alert or an actual hard indication that the dog is focused on the specific odor he has been trained to find. In a perfect world, the dog would hunt for and indicate on a specific odor without handler interaction, but we are far away from a perfect world and thus a better way to train handlers is necessary for an expansion of a dog’s work in the field of virus detection.
Dogs communicate through body language, just like humans do. As a dog is being trained to find a specific odor (target odor) we have found that it is best to use a food reward and to start the puppy out as early in life as possible. 6 weeks is a target age to begin building a Foundation Dog. 9 weeks old is pushing the outer limit of a start date for training as default behaviors have started to develop with the puppy. A dog is always learning whether the person handling the dog understands he is always teaching is the challenge. The food reward and early start for training greatly reduces the human errors associated with creating dogs that “false indicate” or basically dogs that key off of cues given by the handler as it relates to the dog “pleasing the handler” to obtain a reward while hunting for a target odor.
Top Tier K9 trains hundreds of dog trainers and dog owners/handlers from all over the world. Recognized as one of the best working dog trainer schools in the world, Top Tier K9 has expanded into the arena of scientific research and development including the deployment of advanced training programs for dogs and humans. The “evolution” of necessary handler training programs was the driver behind the launch of Top Tier K9’s Virtual Dog Training Center. The need for this advancement in training is paramount to the expanding use of dogs in the nuclear, biological and chemical security fields and will also greatly benefit existing uses of dogs relative to finding bombs/IEDs, electronic devices, and most importantly the training process that allows law enforcement to create “probable cause” in detaining and searching individuals and their property since the human desires of the Police K9 handler can result in the dog “false indicating” resulting in a detainment of a suspect, and the “reasonable” search of a vehicle or person.
· Working dog training should start as early as 6 weeks old and no later than 9 weeks old
· Food reward is superior to ball/toy reward in creating a scent detection dog