Official website of the Labrador Retriever Club of Victoria Inc. Affiliate of DOGS Victoria (Victorian Canine Association) Victoria, Australia

Detector Dog Study

6th January 2023
By Ariella Moser et al
Early in 2022, the Club was approached by a researcher who was looking for test subjects for a study on detector dogs. Read more about the findings of the study by downloading the article.
The pilot study that members of the LRCV participated in last year was incredibly helpful in informing our ongoing research with scent detection dogs.

The main outcomes of the pilot testing phase were:

· Modifying the behaviour testing methodology based on the dogs' typical responses. This provided the foundation for a refined protocol that was used to collect data from currently operational biosecurity dogs (all of which are Labrador Retrievers) around Australia. 

· Refining the use of new technologies in dog testing. In particular, we were able to get the harness to provide consistent, good quality ECG waveforms, which was very exciting.

Some general observations you may find interesting:

· There was an incredible amount of individual variation in behaviour and cognitive styles between Labradors (we saw this both in pet trials and in subsequent operational trials). They really are individuals.

· The Labradors tended to have wonderful motivation for food but their motivation for play varied. They tended to play more readily if they hadn't yet spotted any food.

· The Labradors tended to grasp the scenting task immediately and perform well.

· All of the Labradors we tested were social and emotionally stable in the presence of new people, sometimes difficult tasks, and unfamiliar equipment.

· Some pet Labradors performed remarkably well in the short term memory tasks, where they had to remember where a reward was positioned. This seemed to align with having been trained for retrieval.


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