Auburn University Researchers Studying Potential Bomb Sniffing Puppies
Bomb sniffing dogs are a huge part of our society and security and their training takes time and is very expensive.
So, researchers at Auburn University are studying puppies to determine which ones might perform best to detect explosives.
“There’s been no machine that can detect odors better than dogs. So why it’s important to develop great detector dogs is because they are the best thing on this planet right now to do the jobs we need done,” said Dr. Jeff Katz, Auburn University Psychology Professor.
From puppies to full-grown, the dogs are tested on nine different tasks.
“Anything we can do to identify from an early age which dog is the ones that will be more successful out there. Doing their job will save a lot of time and money and ultimately get more dogs out there doing their jobs faster,” said Lucia Lazarowksi, Auburn University PhD Psychology Student.
One includes an unsolvable task; a treat or toy- locked inside a box.
How many times will they look at the trainer for help?
This measures the social bond between puppies and humans.
The next step, at 11 months; the trainer and a stranger in the same room.
How many times will the dog look at the trainer compared to the person they don’t recognize.
From there, they’ll put the dog through an MRI and show them a picture of their trainer and stranger.
Brain activity and differences measured as the dog looks at a familiar person and someone they don’t know.
“The real interesting thing is when you correlate their activity level, you see more activity when they see familiar faces than unfamiliar faces the amount of activity correlates with that bias score in the unsolvable task. So, what it shows is the behavior you measure outside the scanner relates to the brain activity inside the scanner,” said Dr. Katz.
It’s expensive to train bomb sniffing dogs.
So, all that research, helps tell, at an earlier age, which puppies will go on to be successful.
“We have behavioral measures, neuroscience and in the future, we will add genetics into this to see how behavior, brain pattern relate to different genetic makeup, so we can eventually create a great Auburn dog to make the world a better place,” said Dr. Katz.
120 dogs tested so far in the program.