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Title: Canine Sense and Scent Ability. An Overview of Research on Canine Odor Detection
Presented by Dr. Nathan Hall
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If you missed the PPG Summit in Orlando, then you are in for a treat. Dr. Nathan Hall is a fabulous speaker and was extremely well received by Summit attendees!
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The canine’s sense of smell is 100,000 times better than a human’s. Or is it 1,000, or perhaps just 100 times better? A dog can detect the addition of a single drop of an odor to an Olympic size swimming pool; but, so could you. Discussions in the popular media surrounding dogs’ olfactory abilities are often more myth than science. This presentation will focus on the last 100 years of empirical research concerning canine olfactory abilities, and discuss what the scientific literature has determined to be the dog’s capabilities, and how dogs use their nose. The presenter will also provide a high-level overview of the mechanisms of olfaction, discuss what smells are, and how our sensory system generally detects them. He will also show how the dog’s sensory system differs for ours, and will attempt to address the harder question: What do the differences mean? The presentation will touch on the effects of training on olfactory perception, detection abilities, and how it can even change the way dogs perceive complex odor mixtures. As with any consideration of a research topic, be prepared to leave with as many questions as were answered.
- Define an odor as a physical stimulus.
- Describe how an odor is detected and transcribed as a signal to the brain.
- Describe morphological features that distinguish the canine olfactory pathway from a human’s.
- Identify how dogs can be tested to probe their sensitivity and describe some of the complexities associated with it.
- Describe where a dog’s olfactory sensitivity lies in comparison to other mammals.
- Describe how experience and learning influence olfactory perception.
- Implement classical conditioning procedures associated with faster acquisition and olfactory sensitivity.
- Describe how dogs perceive odor mixtures and articulate the implications for training dogs to find variable odor mixtures.
Presenter: Dr. Nathan Hall
Dr. Nathaniel Hall is an assistant professor of companion animal science at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and the director of the canine olfaction research and education laboratory in the department of animal science. Dr. Hall earned his Ph.D at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, specializing in the study of behavior analysis and canine olfaction. As a postdoctoral researcher, he continued his studies at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona investigating the optimization of training to enhance canine’s detection of homemade explosives. Now at Texas Tech, his work continues to explore canine olfactory perception and how experience influences odor perception. His lab also investigates predictors and correlates of problem behavior, behavioral predictors of working aptitude, and canine health. Throughout his career, Dr. Hall has published numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters.