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

Paola Tiedemann, an academic professor of forensics in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University, and Nathaniel Hall, an assistant professor of animal science in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, have received a $ 270,717 collaboration agreement from the U.S. Army Research Bureau to order To study how environmental factors affect the performance of explosive detection dogs (EDD). Funding for this study will be provided by the Defense Health Agency as part of a larger portfolio in support of basic research on military working dogs, according to a university press release.

“This project will help us to understand the odor behavior of important explosives under different environmental conditions and at the same time to investigate the limits of dog detection,” said Tiedemann. “Together, these experiments will assess their interrelated effects and help us educate the canine community about better ways to acclimatize dogs and reduce the environmental impact on their detection.”

Because of their excellent sense of smell and tolerance to extreme working conditions, dogs serve as a critical line of defense against security threats from explosives and firearms. However, despite the importance of EDDs in military and law enforcement operations, very little is known about how atmospheric conditions affect their odor detection capabilities, let alone what can be done to mitigate negative performance results.

This research contract, which runs from 2021 to May 22, is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Tiedemann’s Forensic Analytical Chemistry and Odor Profiling Laboratory, located in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, and Hall’s Canine Olfaction Research and Education Laboratory, located in the Department of Animal and food science is housed.

By examining the psychological and physiological effects of extreme weather conditions and other environmental factors on odor detection in dogs, Tiedemann and Hall are breaking new ground. This emerging research could reveal effective strategies for increasing dog performance in extreme climates.