Target Odour Recognition

With Trainee Explosives Detection Dog Ruby

Ruby had a bad start in life. The breeder sold Ruby at five weeks old to an elderly couple in wheelchairs. Ruby chewed through a cable and was then kept in an unlit, coal bunker not much bigger than a large cardboard box until she was twelve weeks old. Her current owner rescued her and she became a failed foster.

As a young pup, Ruby had some issues which included growling and snapping when people approached her while she had food. That resource guarding has continued in adult life when a strange dog tries to take her ball.

Her current owner enlisted the help of a trainer when Ruby was a puppy to try and help with the guarding of the food. The trainer remarked that they'd never dealt with such problems in a young dog and could not help.

After an incident in which Ruby was chased down by a husky, she developed a fear of huskies. The next trainer tied Ruby to his own husky to run around the field together in order to solve the problem. This is referred to by dog trainers as flooding and isn't recommended because it doesn't allow the dog the choice to move away when the stress gets too much. Let's suppose we force a soldier who had previously been deployed in Afghanistan and suffered PTSD as a result of what they had seen, back into a war scenario to try and resolve the issue - it is unlikely to help, but it is likely to make the problem worse. The same is true for dogs.

A third trainer was employed. This trainer came armed with an electric collar to punish Ruby each time she reacted. Ruby's owner placed the electric collar on the back of her hand so as to feel the shock herself before putting it on her dog. The trainer was sent packing but kept the £200 fee without issuing a refund.

Ruby's owner was, in our opinion, let down by well-meaning but bad trainers.

When Gemma who is one of our trainers met Ruby, she saw something special in her. After a couple of sessions, Gemma approached the owner and asked if she could train Ruby to become an explosives detection dog. The idea is that eventually Ruby will work for Zuri Dog K9 on taskings whilst her owner maintains full ownership. Ruby's owner gets a better-behaved dog and Ruby gets the chance to show the world what she's made of.

She's turning out to be a little star. This is Ruby learning what it means when she finds explosive target odour - she gets a fun rewarding play with her ball. We discovered that she is quite addicted to the game too. If Ruby could have done five hundred repetitions of the task yesterday, she would have.