Scientists estimated that a dog’s sense of smell is approximately a million times more acute than humans. In fact, dogs are capable of sniffing minute traces of smoke that a smoke alarm can’t detect. That’s what inspired Swedish animal psychologist, Anders Hallgren, to craft a dog training program that teaches pet dogs to detect smoke minutes before the smoke detector can. With patience, follow-up, and determination, you too can train your dog to detect smoke following Hallgren’s program.See also:
Things You Need
To train your dog to detect smoke, you need a safe smoke source. A bee smoker is by far the safest, cleanest, and easiest-to-handle smoker you can use in dog training. And although it’s okay to use conventional bee smoker fuel, it’s also important to include bits and pieces of household materials that are often the source of fire, a strip of wire for example.* Remember to keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby in case of emergency also. You don’t want to burn your house before your dog could learn the trick. And lastly, you need your dog’s favorite toy and snack to start dog training.
Steps to Train Pet Dogs to Detect Smoke
Before starting, know that training pet dogs to detect smoke is a long process; it could take several months for a dog to learn the trick. So be patient about the dog training and apply the DOs and DON’Ts in Dog Obedience Training.
Step 1: Building-up desired response from your pet dog
This step involves building-up the desired response from your pet dog the minute it detects smoke. That response should be loud, incessant, and excited barking. In a way, the first step is about teaching your pet dog how to be loud.
To do this, play with your dog with its favorite toy for a 2-3 minutes and hide the toy and stop playing. You’ll most likely get a frustrated bark saying “let’s play more, don’t stop” from your dog. Reward your pet when it does this. This Hallgren’s dog training step is a bit like teaching your dog to become a brat.
Step 2: Build-up desired response with smoke
Now that you know how to annoy your dog (in a good way) to elicit barking, you can now start building-up the same response with the presence of smoke. Light the bee smoker and repeat step 1 over and over with the presence of smoke nearby. A good 5 minutes each session is enough to burn the scenario into your dog’s subconscious. Train your pet to prolong its barking longer, too, by hiding the toy longer; don’t forget to reward the dog with appreciation, a short play, or a treat after doing a good job.
Step 3. Use the smoke as cue to solicit the desired behavior
This stage of the dog training program involves teaching the dog to take the presence of smoke as cue to bark. Do this by hiding your dog’s favorite toy close to the bee smoker. Use a box, a pile of laundry or what have you to completely hide the toy. While the bee smoker is burning, get your dog excited and help it find the toy hidden nearby the smoker at first. But, you want to gradually progress by letting your dog find the toy all on its own. Do this dog training step in different rooms in your house also. You want your dog to find the smoke because where there’s smoke, there’s its favorite toy.
Step 4. Step-up the training by slowly moving away from the smoke source
This step is the culmination of the previous steps. At this stage, you’re going to teach your dog to bark incessantly when there’s smoke. Do this by lighting the bee smoker in a room while you and your dog stay in another room. Hold its favorite toy ready with you, but don’t show it to your pet yet. Once your dog detects the smoke, it would seek it out knowing that its favorite toy is nearby. Follow your dog toward the source of the smoke and wait for it to bark incessantly before giving its toy as a reward. By doing this, you’re teaching your dog that whenever it barks loud enough if there’s smoke, it gets a playtime or a treat from you.
Step 5. Repeat the process until it is second-nature to your pet dog
This stage of the dog training program is done to make sure that your pet doesn’t forget about its important skill. Keep the dog always sharp by creating a smoke and letting your dog alert you about it. Do this until the skill is etched into your dog’s brain for good.
Again, this dog training program takes a long time, possibly months, so be patient about it. Your reward is to have a loyal, battery-free smoke detector saving you and your family from fire incidents.
* Caution: burning wires, plastic, metal strips, etc. gives off toxic and/or carcinogenic fumes. Use only a very small amount together with conventional bee smoker fuel in your dog training: e.g. 5 grams of the material.