The US Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Expeditionary Canine Sciences programme is exploring new ways of training dogs to help them identify different explosive devices.
The project aims to advance current methods of caining training to allow dogs to work alongside multiple navy or Marine Corps dog handlers, rather than a single designated handler.
ONR Researchers will also attempt to arrive at methods to make the dogs self-sufficient, which will eliminate the need for a handler’s leash.
While previous research has focused on developing physically strong dogs to make them withstand harsh climate, terrain and stress of combat, the new research proposed by ONR will attempt to identify how dogs recognise and remember odours, for how long and to what level.
Chief of Naval Research rear admiral Mat Winter said: "We don’t know what challenges the battlefield of the future will present.
"Our canine warfighters must be as well trained as their human counterparts. It’s critical that we learn as much as we can about how canines process scents and how long they retain scent memory."
Researchers are also seeking to explore whether it is be possible for dogs to detect different combustible elements used for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to expand their recognition of odours within these diverse elements.
Currently, ONR-sponsored tests are already being carried out at Maryland’s Blossom Point Research Facility to test canines using Mixed-Odor Delivery Devices (MODDs) that are small, cube-shaped boxes with vials of substances used for making IEDs.