How Dogs Are Trained To Sniff Out Hidden Electronics

These police dogs aren’t looking for illegal
drugs or explosives. They’re looking for something
that most of us have on us at all times: cellphones. Every crime is usually touching some sort of digital evidence. Cellphone’s ubiquitous. Everybody has a cell phone, so
it’s important a lot of times to find these devices if
they are hidden or discarded. Narrator: Detective George
Jupin is the proud owner of Selma, the first dog ever trained to sniff for electronics. Selma is part of a pilot program at the Connecticut
State Police Department. The program trains dogs to
find devices that store data. Since 2012, they’ve trained
nine dogs and they’ve shared their knowledge with
other police departments so they can train their own dogs. Selma and the other dogs in
training aren’t just looking for cell phones. They’re looking for anything
that might store data. Things like thumb drives,
computers, SD cards, and cameras. Before the program existed,
investigators had a hard time finding digital evidence. And they found as they were
doing their investigations that they were missing pieces. They could find paperwork, but they were missing devices
that could have stored a lot of information, and
they asked if, “Is there any chance that we can train a
dog to find a thumb drive?” I think was the first thing they asked. A lot of the work we do
is crimes against children or child exploitation work
where we’re looking for devices that have illegal content on them. So that can range from
desktop or laptop computers to smartphones and removable
devices like USB drives or flash drives. Narrator: In 2015, an
electronic-sniffing dog found a hidden thumb drive
at Jared Fogle’s house. It ended up being a key
piece of evidence in the case against the former Subway spokesperson. The dogs are used in other scenarios too like counter-terrorism cases where someone could be
storing documents or plans on a hidden thumb drive. Or in cases of fraud where
proof of fraudulent businesses or forged documents could be
found on a concealed laptop. We got called out to a
scene where the concern was that there might
be some hidden cameras throughout the house. Brought Selma in and
we searched the house – each floor of the house
and each room in the house and when we got into one of the bathrooms, Selma alerted to a vent.
Inside that vent, we discovered there was a miniature camera. Narrator: So how exactly do
these dogs manage to smell something that, to us,
doesn’t have much of a scent? Humans have about 6 million olfactory receptors in our noses. Dogs have up to 300 million. So, they obviously have a
much better sense of smell. To get these dogs to sniff
out electronics specifically, the K9 team sent a bunch
of devices to their lab which was able to isolate
one specific scent. The compound we use is
triphenylphosphine oxide, TPPO for short. TPPO is a chemical that coats memory chips to protect them from overheating. With TPPO isolated, handlers can train the
dogs to locate devices. All that is, is a simple
food reward system. We have the dogs smell the odor,
they’re rewarded with food. Smell the odor, rewarded with food repetitively. Narrator: The dogs learn
to associate the smell of the chemical with being fed and that’s what motivates
them to search for it. They start out by smelling
the pure chemical in a jar so they can really master the scent. Once a dog gets that down,
they move on to real devices to see if they can
identify the smell of TPPO when it’s inside a device. And even though all dogs
have a good sense of smell, they aren’t all right for the job. Jupin: We’re looking for
dogs that are methodical in their searches, that
aren’t easily excitable, that can be around a lot of people, that can be in areas that are confined. And the temperament of the
Labradors fits that profile and that’s why we use them exclusively. Narrator: Once the Labradors
know the TPPO scent, the real training starts. Halligan hides devices in cars
and then sets them on fire. This is to train the dogs to
identify the smell of TPPO even if the device has been torched. The dogs also do room searches. So they become familiar with searching an indoor environment. When a dog locates a device, it sits down to alert its handler. The handler then asks the
dog to point to it again. And then gets more food. Man: Show me? That’s a good boy. Narrator: The dogs only get fed if they’ve smelled TPPO first. That way, they continue to
stay motivated to find it. Man: Good dog. That’s a good boy. Narrator: But don’t worry,
they do get enough food. And they even get to have
normal lives outside of work. She comes with me to work and
she comes with me back home. I mean, she’s like family.

64 thoughts on “How Dogs Are Trained To Sniff Out Hidden Electronics

  1. I would destroy the phone with a hammer and set it on fire and wait until the lithium baterry explodes so all data is lost

  2. Tppo melt at 158 degree Celsius if the temperature is more how the dog can find it. After melting did the smell remain the same.

  3. I wonder,its because dog they can sense radiation emitted from eletronics?

    (eletronics does produce radiation but the amount it's harmless)

  4. Wouldn’t the thumbnail say Electronic-sniffing dog to be considered right? Electronics sniffing dog sounds like the electronic is doing the sniffing

  5. government pathology at work, complete with the icing on the cake (the coverup in "good intentions")
    there's literally no end to what they'll take, government is the criminal :-

  6. 1. The MSDS on TPPO – P304+340 : IF INHALED; please remove victim to fresh air and keep at rest in a position comfortable for breathing.
    2. In the video they state humans have 6 million olfactory receptors and dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors
    3. The officer stated they let the dogs smell the TPPO in its pure form to begin the dogs training.

    Sounds pretty cruel to the dog to me… when a human is supposed to lay down after inhalation, No wonder the dogs want to sit! I would think there would be some other electronic device they could use for their search. I'm just saying I wouldn't want my dog to smell this stuff in it's pure form. after the video I was tempted for a second to train my dog to find my keys and stuff… But my first search gave me the MSDS and I wanted to look at the safety info first if offered. And when I seen the inhalation info I knew I was not gonna do that to my dog. I'm only assuming they knew this too but was not concerned with the dogs health. Yea I see he takes the dog home with him, that's cool, but he is a state issued dog. I doubt this guy had this dog at home already and signed him up. But who knows… here's the link

  7. I literally saw a dog do this today in new york at the staten island ferry, i dont know if he found an electronic, but once he found something he sat down and got his food

  8. How much money was spent on this? And is it really even necessary? Because, It seems like just another tactic for whatever pressed police officer to use to waste the money and time of everyone and anyone who has a phone or laptop.

  9. I don't think as a species we can ever afford to rule out the helpfulness of the dog. They work for us humans for nothing except love & food.

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