And they only learn a few dozen scents?
How’s it possible for a dog to learn only a few dozen scents, yet be able to detect so many different explosives mixtures?
Let’s say you and your dog walk into your grandmother’s house and smell beef stew cooking on the stove. You might be able to pick out a few ingredients, but generally you smell the delicious stew as a whole. When your dog sniffs the pot of beef stew, however, she smells the carrots, salt, beef, celery, onions, paprika and anything else in it. She can pick out each ingredient and can tell the difference between them all. Yet to you and me, it just smells like stew.
If, for example, your dog was taught to pick out the scent of carrots and tell you whenever carrots where nearby, she would then alert you when your grandma showed up at your house with a batch of beef stew. Your dog could pick out the carrots from the rest of the ingredients that make up the stew.
Pretty incredible, right?!