What to Know Before Hiring a Conservation Detection Dog Team, Part 1

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla talks with Kyoko Johnson from Conservation Dog Hawaii and Jennifer Hartman from Rogue Detection Teams about things to know before hiring a conservation detection dog team. 

What are some things scientists should consider before hiring a conservation detection dog team?

  • Lower density finds are easier for dogs 
  • Dogs are often used near the end of a project vs the beginning or brought in to target a more specific area 
  • It is important they have their question ready and prepared in order to figure out if dogs will be useful to the project or not
  • Conservation detection teams are understaffed, so sometimes it’s best to consider other options that are more feasible  

Pros of detection dogs?

  • They can be used in tandem with other methods, which can be very successful 
  • Detection dogs are non-invasive 
  • They are not biased
  • Dogs can narrow down species easier

How do you know if the dog will be able to successfully collect data?

  • It’s not possible to guarantee that it will work
  • Known target types in which dogs have been successfully used in other projects 
  • Go with an experienced team to ensure best accuracy if it is something new 

What is the importance of training samples beforehand?

  • Reliable training samples is important for the dog to be able to detect for your project 
  • It is important to have a sample from the location you are working in
  • Variety in samples is important (sexes, different individuals, etc.)
  • The fresher the sample the better, but sometimes it’s not possible 
  • It is important to note samples will always differ from live odors when on the job

Why is it important to let teams know about past difficulties with projects?

  • Some previous difficulties may not be relevant to a dog’s work, but it is good to know to ensure that the teams are able to help with the project

Why are realistic timelines so important for researchers to understand?

  • It takes time to train a dog on a new odor
  • Projects may have various limitations 
  • There are travel considerations – vaccines, etc.

Why do some scientists think detection dogs don’t work?

  • Study design may limit teams
  • Expecting the method to perform the same way other methods do
  • Patience is needed as it takes time to get the dogs ready on a scent
  • Limited funding for teams

What are the risks of the dogs being invasive?

  • The standards the dogs have when working are high
  • Dogs could not do their job if they were a risk for chasing wildlife

What are some preventative measures to take for both the dogs’ health and the wildlife’s health?

  • Vaccinations
  • Ensuring your dogs have everything they need – fresh water, proper food, etc.
  • Daily checks to ensure they are healthy
  • Be prepared to stop work if they are sick or injured

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Where to find Kyoko: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Where to find Jennifer: Website | Instagram | Facebook 

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