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The chemistry of odor: How understanding odor can foster a better detector – Presented by L. De Greeff, PhD

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The chemistry of odor: How understanding odor can foster a better detector.

Canines are sensitive and selective, non-contact vapor detectors that can easily be trained to locate novel materials; however, unlike other vapor detection instrumentation or sensors, canines do not give a readable output, thus leaving the handler to interpret canine behavior. One way to better understand canine response to odor and ultimately better the detector is to improve the understanding of factors that affect or change odor. A compilation of research will be discussed that describes odor on a molecular level as it relates to detection of a target. We will describe how odor emanates from a target object and how the dog might perceive this odor. We will then discuss the variety of factors that affect how the dog experiences the target odor that might not be regularly considered, such as target mass versus odor quantity, differences between manufacturers, changes with time and environmental conditions, and challenges related to wrapping and burial. Additionally, even with the diversity and power of the canine detector, there are minimal resources available for canine research, financial and otherwise. This leads to a dearth in the understanding of this detector, which ultimately has a negative impact on canine detection proficiency. Finally, we will discuss the current state of the field of canine scent detection relating operationally perceived knowledge gaps to currently available resources and literature.

Authors: Brenda Sawyer, Dr Ken Hubbard DVM, Sgt Curtis Shull

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