Handler beliefs affect scent detection dog outcomes

Lisa Lit, Julie B Schweitzer, Anita M. Oberbauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Our aim was to evaluate how human beliefs affect working dog outcomes in an applied environment. We asked whether beliefs of scent detection dog handlers affect team performance and evaluated relative importance of human versus dog influences on handlers' beliefs. Eighteen drug and/or explosive detection dog/handler teams each completed two sets of four brief search scenarios (conditions). Handlers were falsely told that two conditions contained a paper marking scent location (human influence). Two conditions contained decoy scents (food/toy) to encourage dog interest in a false location (dog influence). Conditions were (1) control; (2) paper marker; (3) decoy scent; and (4) paper marker at decoy scent. No conditions contained drug or explosive scent; any alerting response was incorrect. A repeated measures analysis of variance was used with search condition as the independent variable and number of alerts as the dependent variable. Additional nonparametric tests compared human and dog influence. There were 225 incorrect responses, with no differences in mean responses across conditions. Response patterns differed by condition. There were more correct (no alert responses) searches in conditions without markers. Within marked conditions, handlers reported that dogs alerted more at marked locations than other locations. Handlers' beliefs that scent was present potentiated handler identification of detection dog alerts. Human more than dog influences affected alert locations. This confirms that handler beliefs affect outcomes of scent detection dog deployments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-394
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

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odors
Dogs
dogs
explosive
drug
detection
dog
scent marking
toys
drugs
Play and Playthings
variance analysis
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Analysis of Variance
analysis of variance
Food
food
marker

Keywords

  • Canine
  • Dog
  • Interspecies communication
  • Scent detection
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

Handler beliefs affect scent detection dog outcomes. / Lit, Lisa; Schweitzer, Julie B; Oberbauer, Anita M.

In: Animal Cognition, Vol. 14, No. 3, 05.2011, p. 387-394.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lit, Lisa ; Schweitzer, Julie B ; Oberbauer, Anita M. / Handler beliefs affect scent detection dog outcomes. In: Animal Cognition. 2011 ; Vol. 14, No. 3. pp. 387-394.
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