The Amazing Things Your Dog’s Nose Knows

Electronics and Law Enforcement

The same logic of detecting something in an unlikely place can be applied in other scenarios, too — like dogs who are able to sniff out electronics.

There are a handful of electronics-detection dogs in the country, and one was used last year to sniff out a hidden thumb drive that humans couldn’t find in a search of then-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle’s Indiana home. Fogle later pleaded guilty to child pornography charges, reports NBC News, and is no longer associated with the fast-food chain.

How could a dog smell something like this? Even electronics, says Waggoner, have an odor. Although he didn’t work with the dogs in this case, he explains that electronics are sometimes crushed up or presented whole to give the dogs a training stimulus. Like the case of the red snapper, they then search for them and indicate when they’ve found something in an unusual spot, like a drawer or closet.

Similarly, dogs are being used in some prisons to search for cell phones convicts may be using to continue illegal activities, Waggoner says.

What Will They Smell Next?

Of course, there are many more ways that dogs are using their scent detection skills to help their best friends, including continuing their work in customs, in explosives and narcotic detection and even in wildlife conservation and archaeology.

“The difficulty is usually not with the dog. The difficulty is in our ability to understand the material the dog’s detecting,” Waggoner says. “If you don’t understand it, then its presence and absence is something we can’t control for training purposes.”

The possibilities seem endless, and we can’t wait to see how these heroes put their noses to work next.

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