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Critically Speaking

Jul 7, 2021

While many of us are familiar with detection dogs, whether working with first responders, military units, in airports, or even just in movies, canine detection is also expanding and evolving into medical detection. But what, exactly, makes a dog good in detection, and how do they do it? In this episode, Therese Markow and Dr. Paul Waggoner, of the Auburn University Canine Performance Sciences Center, discuss these questions and many more. 


 Key Takeaways:

  • Not all dogs make great detection dogs, although all dogs have greater olfactory detection abilities than humans. 
  • Dogs are unique in their social affinity with people because they have coevolved socially with people. This makes them easier to train.
  • Detection dogs keep us safe from many dangers.
  • A well trained detection dog can be very expensive and their handler must be trained as well.
  • In using dogs for medical detection training, the challenge is to maintain a dog’s ability to distinguish between the cancer scent and the odor associated with the particular individuals.


"What tends to separate dogs that are capable of detection work and those that are not, is a history for what they've been selectively bred for hundreds of years to do." —  Dr. Paul Waggoner


Connect with Dr. Paul Waggoner:

Canine Performance Sciences: 

Research Gate:   

Donate to Canine Performance Sciences: or designating the gift for CPS.



Connect with Therese:


Twitter: @CritiSpeak




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