can bomb sniffing dogs smell guns or ammo?


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andrewdl007
May 12, 2012, 12:57 AM
I take the train a lot between Washington DC and New York. Sometimes but not always coming out of DC I notice there is a bomb sniffing dog that they bring through all the cars. It has led me to wonder what all can the dogs detect. I know there is a lot of info out there but I thought I would ask it here. Specifically, if a passenger has a gun in a bag or on themselves (both no-nos on Amtrak)would the dog detect it? What about amunition. If the dogs can smell it, why don't they react to the guns carried by their handlers and other policemen?

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Cesiumsponge
May 12, 2012, 01:12 AM
Bomb and drug sniffing dogs are notoriously unreliable. It depends heavily on the trainers and the creatures aren't infallible to begin with. I've seen studies stating 25-50% false alerts.

badger54
May 12, 2012, 01:52 AM
I was on a non Amtrak train with a police bomb dog on it. I had a j frame in an ankle holster and a Glock on my hip plus 62 rounds of ammo on my person. The dog sniffed me and did not alert.

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Kiln
May 12, 2012, 03:39 AM
Bomb and drug sniffing dogs are notoriously unreliable. It depends heavily on the trainers and the creatures aren't infallible to begin with. I've seen studies stating 25-50% false alerts.
So true. A drug dog tore up my cousin's car and after 45 minutes of finding nothing they determined that it was a false alarm. I'm sure that the same goes for bomb dogs.

I've heard from an ex police officer that the dogs can also be coaxed to alarm in order to give reason for searches but whether or not it is actually true is speculation.

Odd Job
May 12, 2012, 06:02 AM
I've taken a range bag with obvious powder residues on it (I used it as a front rest one time on the bench) through airport security. It was sniffed, swabbed, inspected, nothing flagged up.
Another time I used that same bag as carry-on luggage and told the dude right from the start it is a range bag with possible firing residues. They didn't care about it at all...

bannockburn
May 12, 2012, 06:17 AM
I could be wrong but I believe I heard somewhere that such dogs are trained to only sniff for one particular substance, (a specific drug or explosives), and therefore are not looking (or should I say sniffing), for a more wider range of objects like guns or ammunition.

preachnhunt
May 12, 2012, 07:47 AM
If the terrorists ever start putting bombs in tennis balls I have a labrador who's going to make me rich.

beatledog7
May 12, 2012, 08:00 AM
Drug and bomb dogs are not infallible, as one would expect.

However, they are quite good at finding one's lunch.

lemaymiami
May 12, 2012, 09:58 AM
I had a short orientation with Army k-9's that were being cross trained as mine and booby trap dogs (this was with the 101Abn in Vietnam, 1971...). In brief they were scout dogs getting some extra training in a rear area at the company level. Dogs that completed the training were able to find trip wires, explosives, and ammunition in such small quantities - and do it time after time. It was explained to me that the dogs were able to actually hear the wind on a tripwire, and find ammo by the smell of the propellant. I watched as one dog found cartridges in an open field with mixed levels of vegetation - and we're only talking about five or six cartridges at a time...

My best guess is that most dogs are only trained to the level needed to qualify for a given task. I was told years later that narcotics dogs were the easiest to train (and they usually chose animals that were very friendly, liked to play, and were unsuitable for more aggressive work)....

I didn't find out until years later that all of the Vietnam era war dogs were killed without exception, instead of being returned home... It was done to prevent tropical diseases from being introduced into CONUS.

k-frame
May 12, 2012, 10:16 AM
I've taken a range bag with obvious powder residues on it (I used it as a front rest one time on the bench) through airport security. It was sniffed, swabbed, inspected, nothing flagged up.

OTH, I took a bag through Denver Stapleton about 12 years ago...and the bells went off (metaphorically). I think the the swab tripped the sensor because the bag was stored against a paper sack that contained fireworks such as roman candles, firecrackers, etc. Jostling the bags over the course of a year or two may have transferred chemicals from one to the other.

Needless to say I made the guard's day (this was pre-9/11). I think he was about 89 years old. :rolleyes: Bag thoroughly inspected and I was on my way.

Jeff F
May 12, 2012, 10:27 AM
I got racked up at Reno Tahoe International airport one afternoon when I went after work to pick up my wife from a flight. I had been loading out a bunch of material at a construction site that had been blasted the night before and had been off the loader on the ground a few times. It was a mini nightmare. Detained for 2 1/2 hours, boots taken away, searched and clothes swabbed. And the 1000 question game. All because this damn dog kept coming up and sniffing me and then sitting down wagging its tail.

General Geoff
May 12, 2012, 10:45 AM
I'm sure any dog can smell guns & ammo, as well as the aftershave you used last week. The question becomes whether the dog is trained to alert its handler of it.

Averageman
May 12, 2012, 11:27 AM
A lot of the same stuff that goes in to some explosives are in Fertilizers.
Everytime I pass through Birmingham Ala. I see the same poor guy swabbing Golf clubs, Bags and Shoes.
I think they do it that way because any dog would go off on every bag.
To be honest there has to be a better way.
I came up to the barracks one time and interrupted a drug dog search. The search was going on and the dog was laying in my bed.
I have kinda lost faith in Drug/bomb dog searches, however my own dog still finds my bunk more comfortable than his.....go figure?

buck460XVR
May 12, 2012, 11:29 AM
What about amunition. If the dogs can smell it, why don't they react to the guns carried by their handlers and other policemen?


Same reason Bird Dogs don't point the birds in your gamebag.......:rolleyes:

Vern Humphrey
May 12, 2012, 12:40 PM
I can recall when Orwin Talbott was Commanding General at Fort Benning, the Infantry Center. He used to have town-hall meetings to discuss matters of interest to the Infantry. At one of them, a colonel was pitching his great idea -- a mine-sniffing dog.

General Talbott asked if anyone in the meeting had ever seen a dog find a mine or booby trap in combat. A captain held up his hand.

"Tell us about it, Captain."

"Sir, it was spectacular! There was a flash and a bang, the dog went straight up about 30 feet, the handler was killed and I was wounded."

So much for mine or explosive-sniffing dogs.

JohnKSa
May 12, 2012, 12:45 PM
I'm sure any dog can smell guns & ammo, as well as the aftershave you used last week. The question becomes whether the dog is trained to alert its handler of it.This. A bomb-sniffing dog shouldn't alert on guns or ammunition.

There are "gun-sniffing" dogs. Weyerhaeuser used them in Oklahoma to sweep their employee parking lot and fired 12 employees who had firearms in their cars.

PaulKersey3
May 12, 2012, 01:03 PM
Just like a human narcotics officer, a "good" drug dog LOVES drugs. That said, the most talented of drug dogs are in other countries and are addicted themselves. China and Pakistan employ drug addicted (Meth, Heroin and cocaine) K9s who's brain receptors are hooked on a specific substance. This causes very successful, yet unpredictable dogs. K9s trained on non addictive substances like explosives or Marijuana are also good at their jobs but are more apt to have false hits as stated above.

Note: We've worked with the bomb dogs at red carpet events with the tightest security in the world. I was told by one of the handlers that things like live ammo in loaded guns are not on the pallet for bomb K9s hit list because handlers are most always carrying firearms themselves. He said they will hit on high quantities of cordite and powder common to some conventional IEDs

Vern Humphrey
May 12, 2012, 01:08 PM
Where would anyone get cordite these days?

Owen Sparks
May 12, 2012, 02:17 PM
A man I know had a bomb sniffing dog hit on him because he wore a jacket that he had worn a few day before while shooting a muzzle loader.

Gtimothy
May 12, 2012, 02:34 PM
I can recall when Orwin Talbott was Commanding General at Fort Benning, the Infantry Center. He used to have town-hall meetings to discuss matters of interest to the Infantry. At one of them, a colonel was pitching his great idea -- a mine-sniffing dog.

General Talbott asked if anyone in the meeting had ever seen a dog find a mine or booby trap in combat. A captain held up his hand.

"Tell us about it, Captain."

"Sir, it was spectacular! There was a flash and a bang, the dog went straight up about 30 feet, the handler was killed and I was wounded."

So much for mine or explosive-sniffing dogs.
That's just wrong!!!:D:D:D

jbauch357
May 12, 2012, 04:18 PM
I don't know what specifically it was trained for... But while waiting in a ferry line a police dog sniffed under and around my Bronco that had a half-dozen guns, plus ammo, plus deer blood inside it - he didn't even think twice and just kept on moving.

hso
May 12, 2012, 04:50 PM
Gun dogs and bomb dogs are trained to alert to different compounds.

Double Naught Spy
May 12, 2012, 05:17 PM
Right. So they can smell guns or ammo, but are not usually crosstrained to alert on them.

Lost Sheep
May 12, 2012, 05:27 PM
A few decades ago, my baggage was detected by a dog (I assume it was a drug-sniffing dog) who went crazy over the aftershave.

Slobber and tiny punctures all over my vinyl toiletries bag/kit and then, when the spread the contents of THAT out, the wooden top of my bottle of English Leather.

Yesterday a co-worker told me about his trip through TSA. His wife "detected" by a machine. She was grilled for a LONG time before anyone thought to ask if she had been gardening lately and been in contact with nitrate fertilizer.

Are dogs smarter than the machines we build? I don't know if this is on-thread, but I thought I would share anyway.

Lost Sheep

mr.trooper
May 12, 2012, 05:38 PM
Most bombs include petroleum based products or by-products. Since there are hundreds of other such products around in any given place, it is difficult for a dog to tell which petrol products are 'bad' and which are 'good'.

The dogs do what they are trained to do... the machines? Not only are many of them TOO sensitive for practical applications (they can hit off of trace residue transferred from a chair or car), but they are also very fragile. They break down A LOT.

GLOOB
May 12, 2012, 05:46 PM
Bomb... dogs are notoriously unreliable. It depends heavily on the trainers and the creatures aren't infallible to begin with. I've seen studies stating 25-50% false alerts.
Well, this study doesn't prove they're unreliable. Even if the false alarm rate was 1000%, they would still be quite reliable, as long as the rate of false negatives was low. Who cares if they have to search a few extra people out of a million people to find that 1 in a million with a bomb? That would be extremely efficient. Well, as regarding bombs, at least. Drugs might be a different tune.

BaltimoreBoy
May 12, 2012, 07:24 PM
How effective are they?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clever_Hans

GLOOB
May 12, 2012, 07:46 PM
Dogs can smell cancer, for crissake. Are they 100% accurate, no. But it's more than a placebo effect.

alsaqr
May 12, 2012, 08:19 PM
i'm a long time EOD/UXO guy. i have worked on jobs that had real explosive sniffing dogs. Those dogs are pretty darn good; thats why some companies use them for mine clearance.

There are "gun-sniffing" dogs. Weyerhaeuser used them in Oklahoma to sweep their employee parking lot and fired 12 employees who had firearms in their cars.

Yes.
Weyerhauser asked the local cops to bring the dogs. When the dogs alerted, the company had the owners open their vehicles. That incident lead to the OK guns in parking lots law. That law has withstood scrutiny in federals appeals court.

Warp
May 12, 2012, 08:28 PM
Well, I know that I had a dog supposedly hit on an item of mine as containing drugs some years back. There were no drugs, nor had there ever been. Makes me wonder how reliable they are...

Well, this study doesn't prove they're unreliable. Even if the false alarm rate was 1000%, they would still be quite reliable, as long as the rate of false negatives was low. Who cares if they have to search a few extra people out of a million people to find that 1 in a million with a bomb? That would be extremely efficient. Well, as regarding bombs, at least. Drugs might be a different tune.

Well, here is the thing about that. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States has something to say about unreasonable searches and seizures. A method with a huge number of false alarms being used as justification for searching all of those people seems pretty questionable, if you ask me.

tnxdshooter
May 12, 2012, 08:32 PM
I am in the law enforcement field. We have dogs that can detect bombs, drugs, dead bodies or live people, and can even sniff out illegal cell phones (contraband) in our prisons. Having said that though, if I remember correctly they are not cross trained on stuff.

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Warp
May 12, 2012, 08:38 PM
I am in the law enforcement field. We have dogs that can detect bombs, drugs, dead bodies or live people, and can even sniff out illegal cell phones (contraband) in our prisons.

...and firearms or ammunition?

tnxdshooter
May 12, 2012, 08:40 PM
...and firearms or ammunition?

I suppose anything is possible. I mean heck if they can sniff out cell phones why not guns and ammo?

Sent from my ADR6300 using Tapatalk 2

Warp
May 12, 2012, 08:51 PM
Well, they would have to be trained for guns/ammo.

I know some who are in LE and I have not yet heard of a dog trained to sniff out guns/ammo.

And I suspect that for most LE purposes it wouldn't even be all that useful since there are SO SO MANY legal and legitimate firearms (and munitions) out there.

Plus, on a personal level, if I was only breaking the policy of a company I was using (like Amtrak or whatever) I wouldn't be too worried about it. The risk of being discovered is so much lower than the risk of needing a firearm and not having one.

mrvco
May 12, 2012, 11:22 PM
The dog can't testify in court whether he actually indicated or not, so it's not difficult for an unscrupulous handler to provide probable cause.

hermannr
May 12, 2012, 11:51 PM
It is my understanding most "bomb" dogs are trained to detect nitrates. At least the ones the border patrol use.

Bad case a few years ago when an Arab (US Citizen) came from Canada, and the bomb dog allerted on him. Poor guy spent months in jail, and his car was absolutely distroyed...the reason? The had been fertilizer in the car that had Ammonium Nitrates in it. The bag of fertilizer was long gone, but the odor was still there for the dog to find.

T Bran
May 13, 2012, 12:10 AM
Regarding the sniffer machines at the airports they are much less reliable than we have been led to beleive.
Afriend of mine is an employee of one of the major carriers and also a geology student. On a class field trip they went to a mine that was blasting and got covered in dust and obviously residue from the explosives. That afternoon she went thru security at the airport. The sniffer poofer machine didnt even flinch so she informed them that it must not be working. They just blew her off and shushed her on down the line,
to say that she was appaled is putting it mildly.
Never assume you are in capable hands that are not your own.
T

JTHunter
May 13, 2012, 12:39 AM
Lemay - I've heard that same story but also a second reason. This also applied to many of the dogs used in Korea and WW2. These dogs had been trained to be aggressive and once taught, could not be "un-taught", thus creating a handling and safety problem back home.

C0untZer0
May 13, 2012, 03:19 AM
I worked in a Custom's bonded warehouse, and U.S. Customs came by one day and told me they were training a new dog. They wanted to hide a bag of drugs in the warehouse somewhere - it was a bag of marijuana, and see if the dog could find it.

So one guy went back in the warehouse and came back after awhile. I asked them why they didn't start the search. They don't me they had to wait for the scent molocules to settle. So we talked for a few minutes and then they started searching. The dog did alert when he got close to the bag.

Destructo6
May 13, 2012, 05:54 AM
A dog can be trained to detect and alert on just about any scent.

I've worked closely (read; "daily") with dogs that can detect all sorts of illegal drugs and concealed humans.

In my experience, the dogs are highly reliable. If you cared to dig deep enough, via interview or disassembly of vehicle, the drugs were present or residue was present (smoking out in the vehicle or had transported drugs).

These dogs aren't addicted to anything except their play toy.

youngda9
May 13, 2012, 08:12 AM
Can they smell Hoppes #9? If so then they can be trained to find it.

JohnKSa
May 13, 2012, 11:21 PM
Can they smell Hoppes #9?I suspect that gun-sniffing dogs may actually be trained to alert on not only firing residue but also on common guncare products. Makes me wonder if a thorough cleaning and relubrication using expedient products instead of dedicated guncare products might confuse things a bit.

Cesiumsponge
May 14, 2012, 12:06 AM
Well, this study doesn't prove they're unreliable. Even if the false alarm rate was 1000%, they would still be quite reliable, as long as the rate of false negatives was low. Who cares if they have to search a few extra people out of a million people to find that 1 in a million with a bomb? That would be extremely efficient. Well, as regarding bombs, at least. Drugs might be a different tune.

The TSA has "red teams" that routinely smuggle bomb and gun items through security checkpoints. That's their job. I don't know if they test canine units but TSA security has a fantastic failure rate to catch these smuggled items.

How does a false positive rate of 25-50% equal "a few extra people out of a million people" and how is such a high error rate "extremely efficient"? What's the point of substance-sniffing dogs if that's your mentality? Just do a 100% scan on everyone, security theater be damned. Lets bypass the Constitution and go straight to fascism and chock up the inconvenience and intrusion as a casualty of security. That's the same mentality fueling the rise of paramilitary police raids. Who cares if a few toddlers and old women are killed by police serving no-knocks on wrong addresses, false informant information, or victimless crimes like smoking pot or VFD vets playing some poker? Hey, as long as we nab some bad guys somewhere in the mix, right? :rolleyes:

There was a study done last year on false alerts. There were tests designed to trick the dogs and the handlers. The handler's were twice as likely to subconsciously trigger the dogs on these tests. That suggests the human element is a bigger issue than the canine element. Sounds like operator error, and it appears it isn't necessarily malicious in nature.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/02/animal_behaviour

In Australia, they are getting an 80% false positive rate. 11,248 nothings out of 14,102 searches.
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/sniffer-dogs-get-it-wrong-four-out-of-five-times-20111211-1oprv.html

And here is a fairly recent article on an incident where the drug dog played a role:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/31/drug-search-trekies-stopped-searched-illinois_n_1364087.html#comments

I don't think alerting to gun care products would be useful because many gun care products are simply re-branded commercial or industrial products. There isn't really a gun lube company out there that has it's own processing plants, men in white lab coats swirling beakers, and a room full of scientific and mechanical testing gear to produce enough volume sales of 4oz bottle of $10 gun lube to sustain such an outfit. Most of these companies buy a base petroleum product and add a few additives to make it their proprietary blend, slap on a label, and call it good. Check out the MSDS sheets some time.

JohnKSa
May 14, 2012, 01:13 AM
I spent a good deal of time looking at MSDS sheets back when they were a lot more descriptive than they are now. Unfortunately, in the last few years they've gotten VERY generic--very little detail on specific ingredients or percentages.

It's true that the primary ingredients in gun lubricants don't usually differ much from typical industrial lubricants, but it's also true, as you acknowledge that the additive package is what makes the difference. And it's also true that the additive package in a gun oil can make up a significant percentage of the whole. One that sticks in my mind had an additive package that was about 20% of the product.

I suspect that there are some strong similarities in the additive packages of common gun oils and also some general similarities in cleaning solvents given that the applications are the same.

There are a few sources that suggest that in addition to gunpowder residue, that guncare products may be part of what gun-sniffing dogs search for.

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1996-03-13/news/9603120577_1_gun-ownership-teen-agers-single-gunshot
"This year, the policy got extra bite with the help of a pair of gun-sniffing dogs - named Rebel and Timer - who are making the rounds in local schools. The dogs are trained to sniff out the gunpowder in bullets, and the solvents and chemicals used to clean guns."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/county-police-introduce-gun-sniffing-dogs/2011/11/21/gIQAL9ZKoN_story.html
"Cali and Lila trained for eight weeks to learn how to detect the scent of gunpowder, metal and oils on human hands, even in expansive spaces."

Warp
May 14, 2012, 01:15 AM
A dog named "Cali" trained to detect the scent of gunpowder on human hands...oh, my lord, the irony.

GLOOB
May 14, 2012, 06:10 AM
How does a false positive rate of 25-50% equal "a few extra people out of a million people" and how is such a high error rate "extremely efficient"? What's the point of substance-sniffing dogs if that's your mentality? Just do a 100% scan on everyone, security theater be damned.

Do you know what 25-50% false positives means? That means for every 100 alerts, 50-75 are TRUE positives. That is so incredibly efficient that I don't even believe those numbers. (Of course, what the OP didn't mention are the number of false negatives... a much more important number for this particular endeavor.)

If half the population were trying to smuggle bombs onto airplanes, then it would be efficient to search everybody. And no one would be flying. It IS just a few extra people, because TRUE positives are so rare that all alerts, false positives and true positives, are rare. Same goes for dogs checking vehicles at border crossings. You can make the argument that it's like "profiling". But when 50-75% (using your 25-50% false positive rate, here) of the people you "profile" for a search ARE in the act of committing a crime* and/or trying to kill people, I'd say that's pretty darn efficient. So if you have to search 2 people out of a million to find the 1 person carrying a bomb, so what?

*I know. One problem with drug dogs is all the misdemeanor drug violations that will get caught here. But ok, back to the bombs!!!

CountryUgly
May 14, 2012, 12:17 PM
IMO the dogs do better with the smells of the bacterial variety. Ones trained to find people or other animals seem to never fail but the ones trained to detect chemicals and such have a much higher failure rate. Example: a good coon hound or a search and resuce dog rarely if ever fail to find what they are looking for and false alarms are even more rare. Drug and bomb dogs have a habit of false alarms and the amount of drugs that drive across our borders shows that they miss a few now and then too.

CZguy
May 14, 2012, 01:26 PM
can bomb sniffing dogs smell guns or ammo?

I'm sure they can...........and like me they probably like the smell. :D

Tempest 455
May 14, 2012, 03:59 PM
If you attend a Top Fuel race (Nitromethane) and get on a plane after, it will detect the residue on your clothes.

Tom609
May 14, 2012, 10:28 PM
These dogs had been trained to be aggressive and once taught, could not be "un-taught", thus creating a handling and safety problem back home.

When I was in K9 back in the 60s, Sentry Dogs provided security and attack training was the emphasis. In the late 60s the move was to Patrol Dogs that could function around people and be called off if the perpetrator gave up and ceased resisting. I had a dog that was retrained and many others were too. Dogs would be isolated for several weeks or more and eventually accept the new handler and retraining. They are amazingly loyal and eager to please.

Some dogs had specialties. A colleague's dog had an exceptional nose. We would occasionally do demonstrations for visiting dignitaries in the ball field and one thing we would do is to have a visitor from the crowd go out to centerfield, rub a handkerchief in his hands, drop it on the ground and go back to his seat in the stands. The dog would then be brought out from the van, sniff the handkerchief and go through the crowd and up to the person that dropped it.

It's true that the dogs never left the overseas base they were initially assigned to. The hardest part of the job was having to leave them behind. Forty years later and I still think about him and have his picture in my office at work.

Any shortcoming on the dog's performance was a reflection on the handler's training habits. I'm probably prejudiced, but I think military dog handlers are far superior to their civilian counterparts. We trained longer, harder and continually. I see lax handling skills with many civilian handlers that would never have been accepted in the military. Just my opinion, but I think it's why you see inconsistent performance from the dogs today.

CZguy
May 15, 2012, 12:19 AM
It's true that the dogs never left the overseas base they were initially assigned to. The hardest part of the job was having to leave them behind. Forty years later and I still think about him and have his picture in my office at work.


Aw shucks, now you have me snuffling. :o

C0untZer0
May 19, 2012, 06:42 PM
You see a lot of dogs in Chicago now, I'm assuming they're sniffing for bombs and not guns.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-pod-pix,0,1536502.photogallery?index=chi-pod19sniff20120519112407

C0untZer0
May 19, 2012, 07:33 PM
Well, here is the thing about that. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States has something to say about unreasonable searches and seizures. A method with a huge number of false alarms being used as justification for searching all of those people seems pretty questionable, if you ask me. - Warp.

Well, you have Illinois and Lisa Madigan to thank for what constitutes "unreasonable" and the expanded use of dogs in searches:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-11-11/news/0411110100_1_justices-drug-sniffing-gen-lisa-madigan

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