1st Edition

Detector Dogs and Scent Movement How Weather, Terrain, and Vegetation Influence Search Strategies

By Tom Osterkamp Copyright 2020
    234 Pages 66 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Dogs detect scent from a source that is carried to them in a plume by the wind. The most important tool for a detector dog handler to have on searches is a knowledge of scent plume movement or "scent dynamics" (the science of scent movement). Such knowledge resides primarily in scientific journals that are largely inaccessible to detector dog handlers and written in language that is difficult to understand. Detector Dogs and the Science of Scent Movement: A Handler’s Guide to Environments and Procedures retrieves, reviews, and interprets the results of pertinent scientific research on scent dynamics and presents these results in terms that are easier for handlers to understand.

    Information on the physiology of the dog’s nose, their sense of smell, and the properties of scent provide the essential information on the process of scenting. The composition of training aids for explosives, narcotics, human remains and other sources is discussed. Recommendations are made on the use of training aids, their placement during training, and the resulting availability of scent. Potential problems and handler errors in the use of training aids are also examined.

    The characteristics of scent plumes and how wind influences their movement are a key focus of the book. The primary task for the handler is to get the dog into the scent plume so that the dog can detect the scent and follow it to the source the handler seeks. As such, a knowledge of scent and scent plume movement will vastly improve the ability of the handler to accomplish this task.

    The influence of weather and physical settings such as terrain, vegetation, ground cover, soil and water on scent movement are examined in detail. Strategies for searching, detecting, and locating sources in all physical settings are presented. Specific effects associated with hills and mountains, fields and forests, bare soils and soils covered by vegetation, different soil types, and lakes and rivers are examined in detail. This includes specific recommendations are made about weather and physical settings that result in higher probability of success on searches.

    Detector Dogs and the Science of Scent Movement will be a vital resource for K9 handles in the private and public sectors—including in Homeland Security, law enforcement, and military settings—as well as a useful guide for lawyers, forensic, and investigative professionals who need to better understand K9 operations.



    Chapter 1. Introduction

    Chapter 2. The Dog’s Nose and Scent

    Chapter 3. Scent and Wind

    Chapter 4. Above-Ground Searches

    Chapter 5. Buried Sources

    Chapter 6. Water Searches

    Chapter 7. Trails and Trailing

    Appendix 1

    Appendix 2

    Appendix 3



    Tom Osterkamp holds a PhD in physics from St. Louis University. He taught classes in physics and geophysics—and conducted research on things frozen (primarily floating ice covers and permafrost)—for thirty years at the University of Alaska and is currently Professor Emeritus. He is a founding member, former board member, and former Training Officer for Gateway Search Dogs. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the North American Search Dog Network (NASDN). He is a former Vice President and President of the SAR Council of Missouri as well as a founding member of the Canine Search and Rescue Association.

    Tom has been active in K9 SAR for 23 years, including more than 1500 hours formal instruction in NIMS, SAR, ICS, Arctic survival, and dog training specifically in: scent theory, air scenting, disaster, first responder, trailing, cadaver, water search, and evidence. His dogs have passed more than 40 national level certifications including NAPWDA, IPWDA, NNDDA, NASAR, NSDA, and US Mantrailing Association. articles have been published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, Advanced Rescue Technology, and in newsletters such as SAR Dog Alert and SAR Dog News. He has taught classes and seminars on such topics as scent theory, area search, trailing, water search, and cadaver dog training locally and nationally including Alaska, and Canada.