5 Top Things Dogs are Trained to Sniff

Top Things Dogs are Trained to Sniff

Dogs carry an extremely sensitive sense of smell, enabling them to sniff out certain diseases, including COVID 19, as some medical researchers claimed. It can be used in the medical profession as well as in police operations such as narcotics detection. Even essential business services such as bug extermination utilize their incredible sniffing capability. The powerful noses of dogs now have the ability to detect viruses, bacterial infections, and cancer through temperature changes or bodily fluids of a patient. They possess smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans, allowing medical doctors and law enforcers to detect substances that are not accessible to human olfactory nerves.

Dogs are Known to Detect Cancer 

Research suggests that dogs are capable of detecting various types of cancers in humans depending on symptoms. Like other serious infections and diseases, a cancer patient often leaves odor signatures from secretions, and bodily fluids sniffed out by dogs to detect the type of compilation. Odor signatures used by healthcare professionals to establish patient status often include breath, skin discharge, urine, sweat, and feces. Dogs detect substances in very low concentrations, about a part of a trillion, from excretions or any changes in the patient’s body. 

A specific type of cancer will be determined by a medical doctor himself using diagnostic testing equipment. Medical detection dogs detect colorectal, for example, from a patient’s breath, gut inflammation, and watery stool with high levels of accuracy. From the blood sample, dogs can detect ovarian cancer, while prostate cancer can be detected from urine even during the early stage. However, a specific type of cancer may have the same odor signatures, prompting the medical professionals to conduct further testing to determine the exact cause. 

Against COVID 19

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which has caused the global COVID-19 pandemic, is the latest human disease that can be detected by sniffing dogs. In several research studies, the dogs were instructed to recognize the odor signatures of COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus. They are able to detect the difference in urine samples between infected patients and those who are healthy. The test result was almost as accurate as the results provided by the standard PCR test. However, a massive urine sampling test is still required to validate the accuracy of the urine-sniffling test before this detection method can be used in actual clinical practices. 

It is not yet clear what particular substances COVID-19 disease produces in the urine sample of a patient, although the odor signature can now be recognized by sniffing dogs. Since the novel coronavirus often attacks the lungs and other vital organs such as the kidneys and primary cardiovascular arteries, healthcare professionals can anticipate changes in the urine odor of a patient. The time will come when medical detection dogs will become a diagnostic tool detecting the presence of novel coronavirus in urine, something that will change the response of the medical world in COVID-19 and disease control. Researchers hope to utilize these sniffing dogs to anyone, including those who are asymptomatic, in a non-invasive approach.  


When sniffing dogs are maximized in detecting illegal substances, they are called drug detection dogs. They are used on various security, and law enforcement operations since the sense of smell of sniffing dogs are 50,000 times more sensitive than humans, making it suitable to detect highly concealed drugs. Dogs have no direct interest in drugs, but they recognize drugs as their favorite toy to look for. In a training program, drugs are instilled in the minds of sniffing dogs that drugs are a usual toy. The sniffing dogs will be rewarded when they correctly detect the presence of illegal substances in the target area. The program associates the smell of drugs as a toy helping detection dogs find it easily.

Drug sniffing dogs are taught to learn two types of alerts, namely passive and aggressive. Dogs perform aggressive alerting by scratching the surface once they detect the presence of a drug somewhere on site. On the other hand, they use a passive approach if the drugs they are looking for a rigged with explosives or have the potential to put the lives of law enforcers in danger. They are rewarded when they display proper recognition of the target scent, like sitting, barking, or lying flat on the surface. 

Drug sniffing dogs can be used in a variety of applications, including airport security, schools, Hospitals, federal offices, prison facilities, and business centers, among others. Dogs can also be utilized to search an individual, open areas, and private vehicles for any suspected drugs. Search dog handlers are directly supervised by people involved in the military field or security agencies to ensure that the sniffing capability of the dogs will be accurate. 

Bed Bugs   

Another reason dogs are trained to sniff is that they detect the presence of bedbugs in a structure or enclosed space. Sniffing dogs can help pest exterminators easily detect or identify areas where bedbugs can be found, even in the hardest-reach areas. Dogs often undergo extensive training in detecting the pest properly and are assisted by a pest control specialist in the field investigation. Due to the strong olfactory traits of bug detection dogs, they are able to distinguish bedbugs from other types of household pests, including carpenter ants, termites, ticks, fleas, and cockroaches, through food reward technique. 

Dogs are trained to use odor to detect the location of bedbugs instead of sight alone. Since bedbugs often hide in cervices, walls, and hidden spots, it becomes easy for bug exterminators to find bugs because of the odor signature they emit. Dogs also have the ability to differentiate the most diverse of bedbugs based on growth progression, as evident in the appearance of their color and physical attributes. Once dogs detect the presence of bedbugs in an area, they notify owners or trainers by scratching the surface where the target colony is located.

Dogs can Help Disease Diagnosis 

Dogs are popular for detecting cancer disease through different odor signatures emitted by a cancer patient. Sniffing dogs are used as a disease diagnostic tool since they are trained to detect various cancer types such as breast cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, and stomach cancer. However, random samples from known cancer patients and individuals without cancer are required to validate the status of the sniffed substance. Even malaria can be detected by sniffing dogs based on patients’ urine and sweat samples. 

Samples of patients with health complications alone are not sufficient to determine the type of cancer cells. Dogs need a source substance to smell so that they can compare odor signatures with other samples of secretions and bodily fluids. Studies regarding the accuracy of detection are still being validated by the healthcare industry up to date before using the detection method to tackle the current pandemic crisis. 

Another disease that dogs detect is Parkinson’s disease because the smell of patients with this type of condition is absolutely different. Since patients with Parkinson’s disease show early signs or symptoms, dogs help the medical professional determine its current stage before it gets overboard. The results could lead to a new screening strategy that is inexpensive in detecting diseases without making a patient feel invasive. As early detection would mean better hopes of survival, there is a great potential for dogs to help save human lives in the future. 

Dogs are becoming an integral part of diverse businesses, offering remarkable benefits to owners and customers in terms of detection accuracy and non-invasive approach. Researchers are already exploring the possibility of employing detection dogs in the diagnosis and monitoring of cancer patients and other diseases.