Their sense of smell is in many cases more effective than technology in the detection of bombs, especially if they are handcrafted. Anti-bomb dogs are trained preferably from an age between 8 and 22 months, and breeds are chosen that even in stressful and agitated situations prove to be less aggressive, such as the Labrador retriever.

The types of training used are mainly two, and involve the use of food as a reward or a game . It is usually preferable to use food - and not play - as a reward to prevent the formation of an exclusive bond between dog and trainer, and to ensure that animals can work with anyone.

The training lasts 10 weeks, during which the dog is made to smell explosives in different quantities, from 450 kg to one gram, up to 120 times a day. The dog is taught to sit when he identifies the charges: from that moment on, that will become the signal to the owner of the detection of explosives. The animals, with this method, are fed only in the presence of the charges they have found.

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To teach the dog how to distinguish the smell of food from that of explosives is placed in front of a swivel mechanism containing 4 compartments: some empty, one full of explosives, one with food and explosive. This wheel will be used to teach Fido to ignore the smell of food .

Image An anti-mine dog at work in Iraq with his trainer: the dogs proved to be more effective than some drones in detecting craft bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, successfully finding the bombs in 80% of cases. Photo credit: REUTERS / Atef Hassan. |

The second method is to let the dog smell a toy full of explosive substances and invite him to find it again. But in addition to cementing the bond with the trainer - up to making it exclusive, which we would like to avoid - this strategy involves the use of dogs with a natural inclination to play.
Generally we tend to let the dog remember the smell of a dozen of the most common chemicals in the various types of explosives (some like C-4, a plastic explosive used in the military, are particularly odorous). Thus the animal will be able to distinguish the various types of bombs by identifying the main components.

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