You’re not alone if bringing a brand new puppy home feels like an intimidating task. It’s full of responsibility, especially if you plan to become a detection dog handler.

Your life and routines will change, but you’ll reap the rewards in the process. Detection dogs hold an important place in society, helping to keep both citizens and law enforcement safe. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a force that can make the world a better place?

Sniffer dogs training is comprehensive and robust, but the rewards are well worth it. If you’ve ever wondered what training is like, keep reading to learn more.

Obedience Training

One of the essential aspects of obedience training a sniffer dog is ensuring they understand what you want them to do. Every dog is different, so it’s necessary to find an obedience training method that works best for your pet.

Some factors that can influence how well a dog understands commands are their energy level, intelligence, and how well they respond to verbal cues.

Contraband detection sniffer dogs often detect materials such as narcotics and unauthorized weapons. With obedience training, your pup can be taught how to sniff out specific substances.


They are usually trained to become desensitized to effectively detect banned or illicit substances without getting overwhelmed by the smell. For example, if the trainer wants the dog to find marijuana hidden inside an envelope, they would first have to train it to identify marijuana smoke without seeing it.

Afterward, they would show the dog an envelope with marijuana inside and let it smell. Eventually, they could bring out the marijuana smell from any object. There are three main methods for desensitization:

Classic Conditioning

Classical conditioning occurs when a neutral stimulus (such as a bell) is associated with the desired outcome. In this case, the dog is learning to associate the smell of prohibited substances with positive reinforcement.

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning involves delivering stimuli. In this case, rewarding the dog for detecting drugs. It is also to create the desired behavior. In this case, the dog becomes desensitized to the smell of drugs.

Counter Conditioning

Counter conditioning is when an undesired behavior is reinforced to change its behavior (in this case, teaching the dog not to react strongly to smells of drugs).

All three methods have been found effective in training sniffer dogs.

Shape Signal

This approach pairs smell identification with obedience exercises. It helps build a strong bond between the handler and the dog. The goal is for the dog to learn to associate specific visual cues with positive experiences such as rewards.

This method is often used for dogs that detect drugs.

Ready to Use the Sniffer Dogs Training Methods?

Sniffer dogs are trained to identify different types of drugs and other contraband. Over the years, their skills have been refined so that they can now sniff out various substances.

With this evolution, ways of training dogs have increased as well. So, try out a few of the most common approaches and you might have a sniffer dog in no time!

If you want to read more interesting articles and guides like this, please browse through the rest of our blog, and don’t miss out!


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