You might be wondering if drug dogs smell vape pens and cartridges?
This is a question that is popping up more and more on Internet forums and other areas online, especially due to the increased popularity of vaping devices and liquids.
The answer to this questions is yes, drug dogs can smell vapes. Keep reading to learn the details.
To help you understand this better, in this article we will explore our title question in some detail, and explain how detection dogs are trained to find different substances.
Can Drug Dogs Smell My Vapes?
Can drug dogs smell vape pens and cartridges?
Before we get to the answer, consider this: Dogs of various breeds are used around the world for their incredible olfactory abilities—their astonishing sense of smell.
Although we humans possess a brain that is ten times larger than our canine counterparts, when it comes to the particular sense of smell we are not even in the same league as dogs.
According to experts, the part of the brain that controls scent is 40 times larger in dogs when compared to humans, and while we humans may have some 5 million scent receptors, our pooches can have as many as 300 million (depending on the breed), thus dwarfing our capacity in this particular department.
Because dogs have such amazing capabilities when it comes to scent and smell, many breeds are trained as drug sniffing dogs.
Drug sniffing dogs are utilized by police departments, airports, customs agencies, border patrol stations and other organizations to smell through cars, luggage, pockets, etc. for the presence of drugs.
These dogs are highly trained to smell out—and react to—certain scents that various drugs emit, drugs like marijuana (THC), cocaine, heroin and more.
They can even be trained to locate the hidden smells of tobacco, or more specifically, the active ingredient in tobacco known as nicotine.
So, “can drug dogs smell vape pens and cartridges?”
Absolutely they can.
Remember, their sense of smell is far superior to ours, enabling them to smell even the faintest hint of a substance.
Of course, whether they “react” to the smell they pick up, either by barking or sitting down, is another story.
This all depends on whether or not that particular dog was trained to react to the chemicals that are in the vape pen or cartridge.
If, let’s say, the dog is trained to smell out and react to THC, he will definitely react to any slight presence of that chemical in your vaping pen.
However, if your vape pen and cartridges only contain nicotine alongside the other chemicals in the vape solution, a drug dog will only react if he has been trained to react to nicotine—such as those dogs that patrol some customs enforcement centers.
When you think about the question, “can drug dogs smell vape pens and cartridges,” it’s important to realize this fact: While drug detection dogs definitely have a superior sense of smell, it would realistically take ages and ages for us to get through airports and border crossings if they were trained to react to every strange smell upon which they came.
Instead, most are trained to detect the scent of just a few items—the items of most concern to law enforcement.
Airport dogs, for instance, might react to the odor of both drugs and explosives; and detection dogs at land border crossings are excellent for their ability to sniff out the most common and problematic drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and more.
These dogs will definitely NOT react to the smell of nicotine/tobacco, largely because these substances are legal to possess—and thus the dogs are not trained to react to these smells.
However, if you are the kind of person who enjoys a little THC in his vaping solution, chances are high that an airport or border crossing detection dog will find this smell, even in small concentrations.
Some agencies, like airports and customs enforcement, may also train dogs to sniff out nicotine products like cigarettes, vape pens and cartridges.
That’s because, in many cases, bringing nicotine products in from another country is not allowed.
Whether or not a drug detection dog will smell your vape pen and/or cartridge depends on two factors: The substance or substances that are in your vape pen and cartridge; and whether or not the dog in question has been trained to detect—and react to—that substance.
What About Vacuum-Sealed Vape Pens and Cartridges?
Whether your vape pen and cartridges contain nicotine, THC or both, you might think you’d be able to escape detection from drug dogs by vacuum-sealing your object?
Not bloody likely, according to the experts.
The plastics used in vacuum-sealing, according to those experts, might look impenetrable, but they all have tiny, microscopic holes in them that allow some of the substances to escape.
Although these pores cannot be seen by the naked eye, the odor that escapes them can easily be picked up by drug detection dogs.
Moreover, it is impossible to vacuum-seal anything and avoid transferring some of the substances to one’s clothes, body and hands, and even microscopic remnants of THC or nicotine can be detected by drug dogs at airports throughout the world.
How Drug Detection Dogs Are Trained
Last but not least, you may be wondering how these police departments and other agencies train dogs to react to certain substances like THC.
Just like dogs are trained to do anything, detection dog trainers use positive reinforcement and praise to perfect a dog’s skill in discovering and reacting to certain substances.
Training such as this is very gradual and can last for months.
First, the dog is taught to associate a favorite toy, usually a small white rag used for tug-of-war, with the smell of the vaping solution.
A towel works great because it can be washed over and over again and then re-used.
Because the pooch associates the rag with playtime, trainers will gradually progress to placing trace amounts of the vaping solution—containing THC or nicotine—on the rag.
Each time the dog finds the right towel—the one dosed with nicotine or THC—he gets to play the tug-of-war game.
Soon, the dog will begin to associate the smell of the vaping solution with fun, playtime and positive reinforcement, thus giving him the ability to react to the substance out in the field.
While almost any dog can be trained to be a drug or explosives detection dog, those who have proven most worthy in this field are German shepherds and members of the retriever class of dogs.