Substance Detection Golden Retrievers: Drugs
Drug detection dogs assist those in law enforcement locate illegal narcotics. They work at airports, bus stations, border crossings, sea ports, schools, and businesses. These dogs are trained to sniff out drugs or contraband and alert the authorities by scratching at the surface near the source of the smell or sitting down next to its source.

Wondering what kind of dogs do well in this work? "You want a dog with an inherently strong play drive," says Officer Kevin O'Malley, "One that isn't afraid to jump on furniture, sniff inside a TV or scratch behind a light switch. These dogs aren't concerned with obedience training. They just want to follow their noses and get the scent of a narcotic so they can lead us to the hidden drugs. It's all a big game to them." The textbook, Basic Narcotic Detection Dog Training, provides a great resource for those who want to learn more about this field.

Nitro Golden Retriever puppy Murphy, of the Bensalem PA Police Department, is working the dope boxes at a mere eight weeks of age.

June 2009: The High Springs Police Department has received their first K-9 partner against crime, Aggie, a Golden Retriever. Lindsay Smith reports for The North Florida Herald in the video below.





In 1969 the Customs Service studied the feasibility of using dogs to detect narcotics. In 1970 the program began, renamed the Canine Enforcement Program (CEP) in 1980.

What types of dogs are used?
Pure and mixed breeds are usedtheir displayed enthusiasm toward retrieving a given object critical. Many are tested to see if they possess the desired traits, but only a few are taken in. Dogs, of either sex, must be 1-3 years of age.

How does the CEP obtain its dogs?
The dogs come from shelters, rescues, and humane societies. Dogs are also donated, purchased, or are provided through their own breeding program.

What are the dogs taught to find?
They are taught to detect concealed drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy. And, the officers are trained how to utilize and enhance detection skills.





What's a typical workday for a team?
They work an 8-hour day. Those at airports examine aircraft, vessels, baggage, cargo, mail, and passengers. Those at land border crossings examine vehicles and merchandise. Daily training exercises also enhance canine performance.

How do dogs compare with people?
At borders a team can examine vehicles in 5-6 minutesa cursory search by an officer without a dog requiring at least 20 minutes. Dogs can check packages in a fraction of the time needed by mail examiners, actually processing 400 to 500 packages in about 30 minutes.

How many years does the CEP keep dogs on the job? What happens after they retire?
These dogs' careers typically last no longer than eight years. Upon retirement, their handlers usually adopt the dogs or a good home is found.






  Articles on Training and Understanding the Job

Organizations, Training Groups, and More

  Training Video Clips

    SCENT – A K9's Reason for Being
    Timing is Everything
    To Fetch or Not to Fetch - Part I
    To Fetch or Not to Fetch – Evidence Search Part II
    To Fetch or Not to Fetch - Part III
    Q&A on Narcotics Dog Training
    (Narcotics Dog) Measuring K9 Reliability
    Narcotic Detector Dog-Team Project
    Harnessing Powerful Secrets of a Dog's Nose

   National Narcotic Detector Dog Assn
   Interquest Detection Canines
   Canine & Detection Research Institute 
   Dogs Against Drugs/Dogs Against Crime
   Office of the State Fire Marshall K9 Program 
   Coast Guard Narcotic Detection K9 Unit
   National Narcotic Dogs Detection Assn
   Alpha K9 Training Center

    Facility Demo 1
    Facility Demo 2
    Bus Demo
    William & Spike

TaleTell: Your own Stories of  Drug Detection Goldens
Meet some wonderful, hard-working 4-footed detectors. And, if you have a Drug Detection Golden tale to tell, just send it, along with photos, to:
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     Buddy (10 chapters) Bubba Barkley Casper Nick Cisco
     Robin Chance Elway Custer Lucky Lizzie