Training Truffle Dogs
 
 
Traditionally, truffle hunting dogs were trained to detect truffles through what might be called an apprenticeship approach.  Truffle hunters bred dogs that seemed to have an affinity for truffling, and slowly trained them to detect truffles by letting them come along on the hunt.  From puppyhood, dogs were taught to retrieve items that smelled like truffles.  Through a combination of trial and error, hunters were slowly able to identify characteristics that helped them in choosing the right dogs.  This process has traditionally been slow, with training often spanning months or even years, and carefully guarded by competitive truffle hunters.
 
At Truffle Hunting Dogs, we adapted military and police scent detection techniques to the needs of the Truffle K9.  Our revolutionary approach to training truffle hunting dogs has cut down the time needed to train Truffle K9s, while at the same time providing a more reliable and precise sniffing dog.  How do we do this?  Our years of experience training drug detection dogs, bomb detection dogs, cadaver dogs, and search dogs has honed our training program to be effective and efficient.  While we do hunt truffles, first and foremost we are professional dog trainers.
 
Our training program starts with Dog Selection.  Our dogs past rigorous health and behavioral exams before being tested for temperament and suitability.  Once dogs have passed their health screenings (which includes blood work, orthopedic exams, and hip x-rays), dogs are screened for suitability for a detection program.  We test their innate desire to retrieve and hunt, just as we would screen dogs for drug or bomb detection.  We select our dogs from American-bred hunting dogs, or European Shepherd breeders, from whom we import dogs every two months.  
 
After the dog has been placed into our Truffle Hunting Program, the future Truffle K9 will spend several months at our training facility either in North Carolina or in California, undergoing specific truffle training.  We will train the dog using the same proven methods used to train the dogs you see at the airport, sniffing luggage for explosives.  
 
The dogs are trained to scratch at the surface of the ground when they detect a truffle.  In addition to training the dog to sniff out truffles, we can also train the dog to detect other mushrooms, such as porcini, chanterelles, or morels.  If the fungi are not buried (as with truffles), the dog is trained to alert passively on the odor by sitting, lying down, or barking.
 
In addition, we can add Poison Avoidance Training for truffle dogs at no additional cost.  Dogs are trained to avoid any meat they might find in their yard or in the forest.  Truffle dogs have been poisoned by strychnine in tainted meatballs by competitive truffle hunters, mostly in Italy.
 
Video of Training Truffle Detection Dogs
 
In this video of a detection dog in training, a Belgian Malinois (Belgian Shepherd dog) is being trained to detect and alert on odors in a box.  Teaching scent detection in this way focuses the dog and teaches him to isolate the odor.  Notice that the dog sits and stares when it has detected the odor.
 
Once the dog is reliably trained on the odor, the odor is moved outdoors to the environment in which truffles are naturally found.  This system of training is used worldwide to train police dogs, bomb and drug dogs, cadaver dogs, search dogs, and arson dogs.
 
Training Truffle Hunting Dogs