Training of Ecological Detection Dogs for Wolf Scat (Canis lupus)

Hilde VERVAECKE, Ellen VAN KRUNKELSVEN, Koen VAN DEN BERGE

Abstract


Detection dogs for wolf scat can assist in conservation-monitoring of wolves. In this pilot project, the first encounters of experienced detection dogs with wolf scat were documented. It was tested how a dog, trained with only a few scat samples (minimally four, maximally six), could generalise towards new unknown wolf scats and discriminate them from distracting odours. Four dogs all showed a behavioural expression of aversion upon first presentation with wolf scat during their initial training to fixate on wolf scat. The dog that showed the least aversion to wolf scats was trained during two weeks. His ability to discriminate wolf scat from other odours and to generalise to new wolf samples was evaluated. He was presented a line-up with new wolf scat, dog scat and other distracting odours in eight boxes, seven trials and random rotations of odours. The test was conducted blindly without the dog handler knowing if or where a positive sample was present. The dog showed partial generalisation of wolf scat odour from only a few known training samples to new wolf samples. The test was evaluated for methodological improvements.

Keywords


Canis lupus; scat; detection dogs.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15835/buasvmcn-asb:2020.0021




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