Detection dogs

With their fabulous noses, dogs (& rats & other animals) can track down hard-to-find animals or plants. In Flanders too, detection dogs are sniffing to help in nature conservation. Learn more about our practice-driven research on ecological detection animals.

What we got to offer:

  • Co-creative research
  • Animal-friendly and eco-friendly
  • Shared knowledge

Dogs are more mobile than humans, allowing them to operate in challenging terrains. Their exceptional sense of smell enables them to detect things that are often invisible to humans. Research shows that search dogs outperform other methods in up to 90% of cases. Additionally, dogs can be trained to recognize up to 20 or more different scents.

Detection dogs can be deployed for a wide range of purposes, including:

  • Locating rare and endangered species
  • Facilitating species inventories and monitoring efforts
  • Searching for specific individuals
  • Mapping invasive species
  • Detecting scents associated with diseases in animals, carcasses, trees
  • Sensing odors linked to pollutants (such as oil, gas, etc.), even in water
  • Locating individuals during natural disasters (after flooding, fires, etc.)
  • Tracking down illegal activities like smuggling and poaching
  • Raising awareness and providing education

Although some volunteers are already using ecological detection dogs, further professionalisation and development is needed. Many organizations are still unaware of the potential of search dogs, leading to their underutilization. Belgium needs to catch up with other countries where these dogs are frequently and successfully deployed.