Texas Tech researchers study the impact of climate on dogs’ ability to detect explosives

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Paola Tiedemann, Associate Research Professor of Forensic Sciences in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University, and Nathaniel Hall, Assistant Professor of Companion Animal Science at the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, received a cooperation agreement of $ 270,717 from the U.S. Army. Research office to study the impact of environmental factors on the performance of explosives detection dogs (EDD). Funding for this study is provided by the Defense Health Agency as part of a larger portfolio supporting basic research on military working dogs, according to a press release from the university.

“This project will help us understand the fate of significant explosives odors under different environmental conditions while simultaneously studying the limits of canine detection,” Tiedemann said. “Together, these experiments will assess their interrelated effects and will help us educate the dog community on the best ways to acclimatize dogs and mitigate the environmental impacts on their detection.”

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Due to their superior sense of smell and tolerance for extreme working conditions, dogs are a vital line of defense against security threats involving explosives and firearms. However, despite the importance of EDDs in military and law enforcement operations, very little is known about the impact of atmospheric conditions on their odor recognition capabilities, let alone what can be done to. mitigate negative performance results.

Running over May 2021-22, this research contract is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Tiedemann’s Forensic Analytical Chemistry and Odor Profiling Laboratory, located within the Department of Environmental Toxicology, and the Research and Development Laboratory. Hall’s Canine Olfaction Education, located within the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

By studying the psychological and physiological impact of extreme weather and other environmental factors on dog odor detection, Tiedemann and Hall explore virtually uncharted territory. This emerging research could uncover effective strategies to improve canine performance in extreme climates.

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