Young Guinea Pig Double-Blind Scent Test in Pasadena

This only five weeks old Guinea pig learned to discriminate and indicate a specific target-scent after three days of training. Yes, it does not take long if you do everything correctly, starting with creating a relationship with the animal.

You can learn all about scent detection in the course Canine Scent Detection. We used the same method and precisely the same procedures as for dogs. We only had to adjust our signals, reinforcers, and inhibitors according to the species.

If you are a student, pay attention to details in the movie so you can answer the two questions in the quiz below.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Young Guinea Pig Double-Blind Scent Test in Pasadena" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Guinea Pig Scent Detection—Three Samples Double-Blind Test

“Guinea Pig Scent Detection—Three Samples Double-blind Test” shows the result after three days of training with a six-weeks-old Guinea Pig. We went a step further than our usual two samples test, and we succeeded without any problems. Notice the calm with which the trainers handle the Guinea Pig and the whole situation. In the first test (two-samples), the GP takes its time for the reasons you will see. Keeping calm and collected and giving the GP the time it needed was undoubtedly the best strategy.

How could we achieve such results after only three days? By proceeding stepwise with a Swiss watch precision, from creating a relationship with the piggie, to teaching it the desired indication behavior, target scent and so forth.

Interested in scent detection. Take a closer look at our course Canine Scent Detection. You’ll be surprised to see how far we can get if only we care to study behavior and learning scientifically. Our approach is unique and so are our results.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Guinea Pig Scent Detection—Three Samples Double-Blind Test" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Scent Detection Memories From Germany

“Scent Detection Memories from Germany” shows you yet a CSD workshop—a memorable one, though. All teams, 11 in total, passed the double-blind test after three days of training. One even succeeded in teaching the dog to identify and indicate a second target scent in only 21 minutes. Our state-of-the-art scent detection procedure (devised and developed by Roger Abrantes throughout the years), does not need any further proofs that it works to perfection!

The second target scent is not as difficult for the dog as it seems. Provided the handler taught the first one correctly, the dog will have no difficulty in adding the second one to its repertoire of reinforcer-giving stimuli. All the hard work (where precision is crucial) is at the beginning of the learning process, starting with teaching the dog to show the correct indication behavior (commonly called ‘alerts’). The scent discrimination in itself is no problem for the sharp nose of the dog.

Pay attention to the movie so you can answer the quiz questions and earn study credits (if you’re a student). Check also our Canine Scent Detection course and learn about our unique CSD learning procedure.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Scent Detection Memories From Germany" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Training Dog to Find and Bring Cellphone to Owner

This video shows a bit of our training of a dog to find and bring the cellphone to the owner. We did it stepwise as you will see. The task is more complex than it may appear at first because it involves two different aspects. (1) to find the cell phone, to which we applied our proven scent detection procedures. (2) to bring it to the owner, which was ultimately a question of teaching the dog to retrieve.
We started with the latter because we wanted to be in a position to reinforce every time the dog found the cell phone. Then, the dog would handle it correctly as we taught then, i.e. would pick it up carefully and would bring it to the owner.
Otherwise, we could easily create undesirable behavior by reinforcing the dog finding the phone but handling it incorrectly. Beware of undesirable habits that you will have to extinguish later (in this case, for example, biting the phone, dropping it, playing with it). In other words, the retrieving behavior had to show satisfactory and reliable results before we could start with the searching part of the task. Equally, in scent detection, we want the indication behavior to be reliable before we embark on the scent discrimination proper.

We did it in three days with approximately four hours of efficient work each day. We planned the whole operation to the last detail before we started.

If you’d like to know more about planning training and creating a POA (Plan of Action), please look at our course The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Must Know.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Training Dog to Find and Bring Cellphone to Owner" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Warning—Hero Rats At Work

“Warning—Hero Rats At Work” shows the fantastic work that the Apopo staff and their rats perform in detecting landmines and clearing land for the local populations to inhabit safely. The video shows the final certification test for the handlers. Note the precision with which they execute all steps. The rats had been certified earlier, so we knew they would perform. The handlers did too.

Apopo trains also rats of the same species to detect tuberculosis in saliva samples from potentially affected patients.

The methods we use to train the rats are the same we use for all other species, only adjusted to the species, the Giant Gambian Pouched Rat, Cricetomys gambianus. Roger Abrantes spent two years in Africa working with the Hero Rats and writing the SOP and training manual.

To know more about scent detection, see our course Canine Scent Detection.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Warning—Hero Rats At Work" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Guinea Pigs Scent Detection

In this short video, you see a summary of the five steps leading to the final and successful double-blind test in scent detection. Notice that, contrary to the practice everywhere else, we start by teaching the animal the indication behavior. The goal of this procedure is to allow us to reinforce the animal’s behavior whenever it encounters the target scent. Since it will associate the container with the previous indication behavior, it will indicate it and receive its reinforcer for that—while all the time subject to the target scent. That and the exceptionally carefully planned plans of action (POA) are the reason why we succeed in teaching scent detection to Guinea pigs, dogs, and rats in only three days of training.

If you’re interested in staging a scent detection workshop, be it with dogs, Guinea pigs or rats, please contact us.

To learn more about Professor Roger Abrantes’ unique scent detection method, please go to our course Canine Scent Detection.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Guinea Pigs Scent Detection" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Canine Scent Detection in Doglando

This video shows the final double-blind test in canine scent detection. It all looks very easy, and it is—when we know what to do and do it correctly.

To learn more about the innovative and unique scent detection training method created by Roger Abrantes, go to our course Canine Scent Detection.

Roger Abrantes trained scent detection for law enforcement canine units in Europe and in the USA, landmine-detecting rats for Apopo in Africa, SAR canine teams for the Alpine Rescue Team in Switzerland, and Guinea pigs for civilian use.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Canine Scent Detection in Doglando" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Six Bones — The Little Deaf Half-Blind Sniffer Dog

Six-Bones is deaf and half-blind. Therefore, we need to use our imaginative and creative skills to devise the correct training procedures. Notice how they create a conditioned positive reinforcer that they can use later when doing scent discrimination. Everything is done with the highest possible precision, patiently and thoroughly. The dog doesn’t need to see or hear to do scent detection. Its olfaction is as good as any other dog’s. All we need is to devise the correct way to communicate what we want and to teach it rightly.

In the end, the team passes the double-blind test, of course!

To learn more about our uniquely efficient Canine Scent Detection, please go to our course Canine Scent Detection.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Six Bones — The Little Deaf Half-Blind Sniffer Dog" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

Canine Scent Detection — Ten Years Old Lab Is a Star

“Ten Years Old Lab Is a Star” shows what we can accomplish with a dog and an owner who have excellent communication. The age of the dog doesn’t matter, as long as the dog is stable, well-socialized and eager to learn. Its nose does not deteriorate. The team (human and canine) passed the double blind-tests in scent detection (gunpowder) both indoor and outdoor. The total efficient training time for Heidi and Cricket was eight hours spread over four days.

What you see in this video is professional work. To learn more, please go to our courses Canine Scent Detection and The 20 principles All Animal Trainers Must Know.

Quiz (for students wishing to earn study credits)

"Canine Scent Detection – Ten Years Old Lab Is a Star" Video Quiz

You have five minutes to complete this quiz.

 

The Dog’s Color Vision and What It Means for Our Training

Do dogs see colors? Does that affect our dog training in any way? These are the questions I will answer today.

In the early 1980s, we performed some tests at the Ethology Institute Cambridge to determine whether dogs were colorblind as the popular view says. The conclusion of our experiments was that they could distinguish between some colors and could not discriminate certain other colors. They are not completely color blind (seeing only shades of gray). They were more like some people who see colors though not the full spectrum. However, we could not determine, at the time, whether the color discrimination of the dogs was due to differentiating between real colors or various shades of gray. Meanwhile, more modern research has cast some light on these questions.

Eyes contain light catching cells (cones) that respond to color. Canines have fewer cones than humans, which implies that, in principle, their color vision cannot be as good as ours. To see colors, we need various types of cones, which can detect different wavelengths of light. We have three types of cones, which gives us the possibility to register what we call the whole range of color vision.

Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara tested in the late 1980s the color vision of dogs. Their studies confirm that dogs see color, though not as well differentiated as humans do. For us, the rainbow looks violet, blue, blue-green, green, yellow, orange and red. For a dog, we presume it looks dark blue, light blue, gray, light yellow, darker yellow, and very dark gray. They seem to see violet as blue (like many humans).

DogColors5

Studies performed by Russian scientists demonstrated that dogs tend to discriminate real color rather than brightness cues. Dogs have a dichromatic color vision, which means that they have two types of cones in their eyes. They match any color they register with no more than two pure spectral lights. Placental mammals are in general dichromatic. The ability to see long wavelengths necessary to distinguish red from green seems to have disappeared during evolution, probably after the Triassic period. Dichromatic vision is, though, good to distinguish colors in dim light, favoring the most nocturnal animals.

Trichromats, like most humans, have three color-detecting cones (blue, green and red) and can distinguish between 100 different gradations of color. Honeybees are also trichromatic seeing ultraviolet, blue and green instead of blue, green and red.

Human = A and C. Dog = B and D. It is difficult for the dog to discriminate between red and green.

The term color blind is, therefore, somehow misleading. Some animals developed the ability to see some colors and others to see other colors all depending on what mutations appeared and the subsequent costs and benefits each strategy implied for their struggle for survival.

What does this mean for our communication and training of our dogs? Since dogs find it difficult to distinguish between certain reds and greens (like some humans do), we should choose toys and training aids in other colors. For example, light blue or yellow are much easier colors for a dog to detect. On the other side, when training them in any scent detection discipline, we should use colors for the targets that are difficult for them to see so to compel them to use their noses and not their eyes.

References

Kasparson, A. et al. 2013. Colour cues proved to be more informative for dogs than brightness. Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Neitz, J. et al. 1989. Color Vision in the Dog. In Visual Neuroscience, 3, 119-125. Cambridge University Press.

Featured image: When training dogs in any scent detection discipline, we should use colors that are difficult for them to see so to compel them to use their noses (and not their eyes) to find the target (picture from Joy of Living).