Working Dogs in Conservation and Forensic Sciences

Course Description

The value of the canine nose is well-documented, and working dogs are being increasingly utilized for their olfactory skills in conservation. Dogs are used in forensic science, in the calculation of population trends of endangered species, in the eradication of invasive species in protected environments, in the identification of disease, and in the identification of infestations and chemical contaminants.

The course is divided into six modules covering: the anatomy, genetics, neurology, and evolution of canine olfaction as well as diseases affecting it; the chemistry and aerodynamics of odors; behavior, learning, and training; uses of canine olfaction in forensics and law; uses in conservation and remediation; uses in detection of diseases and medical conditions.

Course Objectives

  • Identify the basic anatomy & neurology of the canine nose
  • Summarize the disease conditions related to the canine nose and describe their potential
    impact on olfaction
  • Discuss the chemistry and aerodynamics of odors
  • Outline the basics of dog behavior and learning
  • Outline the basic methods of training dogs for scent detection
  • Evaluate the current uses and limitations of detection dogs in legal applications
  • Describe the use of dogs in forensic sciences
  • Describe the use of dogs in the medical sciences
  • Identify, research, and write a report on an application of interest with working dogs
    (based on what is learned throughout the course)
  • Recommend a specific area where working dogs could be trained for detection of a
    conservation-specific application
  • Describe the various uses of dogs in conservation

Course Topics

Module Topic
Module 1 Evolution, anatomy, neurology, genetics, & disease
Module 2 Chemistry & Aerodynamics of Odors
Module 3 Behavior, Learning, & Training
Module 4 Uses in Forensics & Law
Module 5 Medical Detection
Module 6 Uses in Conservation I
Module 7 Uses in Conservation II
Final Project Work
Presentation & Grading of Final Projects