Wildlife Conservation Dogs

Conservation Detection Dogs are increasing in popularity due to their unparalleled effectiveness at locating rare or endangered species. Oftentimes, universities, researchers and government agencies will use Conservation Detection Dogs to help track populations and to gather other valuable information regarding specific target species of plants or animals. Conservation detection dogs can be used to locate invasive species, wildlife smugglers, contaminants that are detrimental to the health of endangered populations and more. They can be trained to locate a single target odor or multiple target odors – although the use of a dog for locating multiple target odors must be carefully considered to avoid potential conflict and ensure optimal accuracy. 

Conservation Detection Dogs are a valuable asset to agencies working to help preserve vulnerable or endangered species, and can make the process of gathering data significantly faster, more accurate and efficient. Mechanical scent detection devices are often bulky and impractical to transport through environments where many animals build their habitats, and they can only be programmed to detect specific odor combinations without the ability to generalize VOC profiles. Manually searching for species that can be difficult to find is incredibly time consuming often still results in missing important target evidence. Due to the limitations associated with other techniques for locating target species, conservation detection dogs are being sought out and used by many agencies to locate evidence needed for accurate data collection.

Our Wildlife Conservation Dogs Program

Our Conservation Detection Dog program is heavily data driven and will prepare a dog – handler team to safely and effectively navigate the environments which they will be expected to work in, in addition to teaching dogs to prioritize searching locations where target odor is most likely to be found. We teach our Conservation Detection Dogs to locate their target odor(s) exclusively while ignoring irrelevant odors even when other VOC profiles may be similar. We work very closely with handlers and research teams to ensure that the dog is being trained on the most accurate sources possible at a variety of threshold levels, and will tailor our program specifically to the handler’s requirements.

The majority of Conservation Detection Dogs work off lead while covering large amounts of area, so it is imperative that handlers learn how to direct their dog’s search strategy without unintentionally cuing or disrupting active searching. It is also important that dog – handler teams understand how to search as effectively and efficiently as possible while considering potential limitations of the search environment and how to best navigate them. 

In conservation detection, the ability to accurately read a dog’s behavior and body language during a search is a vital skill for handlers. Being able to recognize the difference between when a dog is exhibiting a change of behavior associated with the presence of target odor vs when they are actively working but no target odor is present is imperative for the success of the team and their mission. 

Our Conservation Detection Dog training program is very comprehensive and ensures that both dogs and handlers are prepared to deploy and effectively work all environments where their target species is likely to be located.

Our Conservation Detection Dog training program prepares dog – handler teams to successfully search for and locate target species in a variety of relevant environments. We are there to assist you through the entire process, from locating the most suitable dog for the job all the way through deployment preparation. If handlers already have a dog they would like to work with, we require that a job suitability assessment is performed prior to training commencement. Dogs selected for this program will have been deemed to have a temperament appropriate for safely working in close proximity to their target species, a natural hunting style appropriate for the amount of area and type of environments they will be searching, as well as a size and physique that is most appropriate for their job. Our Conservation Detection Dogs are trained to hunt in a manner that is non-disruptive and methodical, and they are conditioned to work in whichever gear their handler or agency requires.

At Synapse Canine, we have the education and experience to bring out the best in your dog.

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Our Training Process

Step 1

The first step in our training process is to meet with you or your agency in order to discuss the nature of the project. This meeting will be a thorough consultation where we will discuss job specifics, target species, expectations for the detection dog and more. This meeting is also where we will cover criteria specific to the dog being selected to participate in the program.

Step 2

If a dog has already been selected by an individual or agency, a suitability assessment of their natural working capabilities and aptitudes specific to the work to determine if they are a solid candidate for training will be performed. If a dog has not yet been selected, we will go through the process of selecting the ideal candidate for this work.

Step 3

Your dog will be “imprinted” on target odors specific to the species which they will be expected to locate.

Step 4

Your dog will learn an indication which will be associated with the target odor profile. We typically always teach passive indications for Conservation Detection Dogs to prevent disturbance of the natural environment, potential injury to vulnerable target species or destruction of source.

Step 5

Your dog will learn to hunt in a wide variety of environments while learning to ignore distractions and irrelevant odors. Priority will be given to preparing dogs to work in the environments which they will most frequently be deploying.

Step 6

Supplementary training will be included to help strengthen the dogs working capabilities. Any supplementary training implemented during this stage will be specific to the needs of the K9 and handler.

Step 7

Operational preparation stage where searches similar to deployments will be conducted to help ensure that both dog and handler are as mission ready as possible.

We also provide a great deal of instruction to future handlers during this training. Some of the skills we teach Conservation Detection Dog handlers are:

  • Understanding the canine olfactory system and relevant behavior 
  • Understanding odor dynamics and movement 
  • Implementing an effective search strategy in different environments
  • How to optimally store and handle training aids
  • How to work a Conservation Detection dog effectively without cueing them
  • How to reward a dog without disturbing evidence
  • How to understand their dog’s behavior and maximize their working potential during training and in the field

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Schedule your detection training program with Synapse Canine today.

Our detection training services will help build the best dog for the job. From dog selection to troubleshooting concerning behavior of operational detection dogs, we are here to ensure that you get the most out of your K9. 

We also recognize that effective handling skills are 50% of the equation, so every one of our programs focuses on optimizing both dog and handler performance. The work you do is significant, and our customizable detection dog programs ensure that you reach your goals while getting the most out of your time and training efforts. 

Contact us today to ask about our programs or to book an appointment.