Part 1 of this blog discussed the progress that has been made by researchers to create a sensor and add artificial intelligence for detecting cancer in test subjects. While their research was very focused, it could lead to other applications where dogs’ sense of smell helps solve difficult but common problems. Perhaps other researchers will build on the progress to date in the cancer research area, since the capability of the dog’s nose has been exceeded in cancer detection.
Law enforcement makes extensive use of dogs sensing capabilities for detecting drugs, discovering explosives and tracking fugitives. Duplicating these skills in a manufacturable product could provide much more frequent usage and greater safety/security to the public. In another application, dogs are used in search and rescue efforts to locate disaster survivors. For those that do not survive or died a long time ago, dogs display some of their most remarkable scent detection skills.
Decomposition starts as soon as 24 to 72 hours after death, providing cadaver dogs a new scent to detect human remains. A well-trained cadaver dog can have 95% accuracy when detecting human remains. This unique scent remains long after death allowing archaeological teams to make unusual finds. Dogs can detect remains as far as 15 feet underground — deeper than a standard grave. In addition to decomposing blood and tissue, a dog can even detect decomposing bone fragments long after death.
Another demonstrated sensing capability is a dog’s ability to detect impending disasters. According to Russell Hartstein, a certified dog behavior consultant and dog trainer, “Barometric pressure and all natural phenomena have odors associated with them.” This allows dogs to sense and recognize these changes immediately.
Some dog experts believe that dogs’ heightened sense of smell enables them to detect an oncoming epileptic seizure in their owners. However, scientific data in this area is limited. Still, there are many viable areas for researchers to explore to take advantage of and duplicate a dog’s sense of smell.
Doggysaurus, “How Soon After Death Can a Cadaver Dog Detect?” https://doggysaurus.com/how-soon-after-death-cadaver-dog-detect/
American Kennel Club, “Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?” https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/can-dogs-predict-earthquakes/