Complementary Training Method for Mine Detection Dogs

One of the major problems when training detection dogs is that the composition of the smell presented for the dog is different than the composition of the substrate. I.e. technical TNT (three nitro toluene) contains 99% pure TNT. The remaining approximately 1% represents by products (depending on the production process), mostly DNT (di nitro toluene). Those contaminates are far more volatile than TNT. We have shown that the gas phase above TNT explosives - what can be registered as the smell for the dog - contains only 1% pure TNT and 99% of these by products. This means that the actual smell presented for the dog during training is rather DNT and other by products than the TNT. The mix of these by products may then vary; due to quality of the TNT, storage time, temperature, humidity etc. This would be less of a problem if the dog would focus solely on the smell from the pure TNT.Another problem related to training dogs on explosives are the practical issues with handling, storing and hiding explosives during training.We have developed a technique were pure TNT in water solution is used for training. The water solution is put on the ground using a syringe. The TNT water, releases the TNT into the ground, where it starts to degrade, mimicking the release from a local buried landmine. The fast and easy way to prepare a training area also facilitates the calibration of the MDD when deployed in another country. In essence, the method makes it possible to make a highly controlled vapour image for MDD training without handling explosives.

Authors: Rose-Marie Karlsson, Mona Brantlind, Erik Holmgren