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Randy Hare’s Opinion on Pseudo Products

Over the past ten years, pressure from the detection dog industry has prompted many to experiment with a suitable alternate to the “REAL THING”. Real Drugs, Explosives and other substances are difficult, if not impossible, for some trainers to obtain with all the legal requirements and licenses. There are multiple pseudo brands on the market from paste products to white powder products, to multiple little beads in a cotton bag wrapped by gauze and stuffed inside of another cotton bag. There are probably as many as 10 on the market. I have seen many things in the K-9 training business come and go so I am always skeptical about new things. I learned too, and teach, that EVERYONE in this business usually has something to offer that may help to improve your skills, so I continue to keep an open mind. I respect other peoples’ opinion as to why the utilize such products and appreciate those people respecting my opinion. The following explanation for my OPINION is just that, my opinion. I remain open minded as to new evidence and my opinion, as always, is subject to an open mind.

In 2011, I conducted a “Detection Dog Trainers Course” for three students here in Jackson, MS.  Two were from here in the U.S. and one from Australia named Chris Flegler. All three were exceptional students, and really loved detection and Police K-9 training. During the course, Mr. Flegler explained the extreme difficulty of obtaining substances in Australia such as Narcotics and Explosives, he went on to explain that he was about to purchase a full kit of ScentLogix (SL) Synthetic training aids. Mr. Flegler had the Pseudo Products shipped to my business location here in Mississippi. Upon arrival, Mr. Flegler was adamant about exposing the product to a few of our trained dogs that had been trained only on real Narcotics. I agreed, and honestly, with as much hype and scientific promotional talk about SL, I fully believed that this would be just a formality. I would have bet that my dog “Chona” would exhibit at least a small amount of alert behavior in something that had a claimed scent signature of the real substance. The test was set up with approximately 9 PVC tubes. Seven of the tubes contained different substance odors ranging from household cleaners to machine lubricants, negating the possibility of a novel odor indication. Two of the tubes were blank and one with an entire bag of the SL Meth training aid. The following video depict what actually happened that day. The voice with the heavy Australian accent is that of Mr. Flegler.

 

RHOSL 1 VIDEO - CHONA

chona

 

After the initial test with the SL meth training aid I suggested doing another test after lunch utilizing another dog featuring the Cocaine equivalent training aid from ScentLogix. Meth is so diverse in its manufacturing and production processes that this COULD have caused a different scent picture. The dog chosen for the second test was a retired police dog named Aleck. Aleck was one of the very finest dogs ever sold from this facility to a department in Seward County Nebraska. Aleck had two different handlers over his 7 year career at the Seward County Sheriff’s Department. This excellent dog was instrumental in 27 federal drug cases, while paired with his second handler and multiple interdiction cases on I-80 with the first handler. The majority of his interdiction cases involved multiple kilos of cocaine. Aleck never failed a certification and was never exposed to, or trained with, synthetic products. Seward County was generous enough to let Aleck retire with me and this dog was instrumental in educating students during our detection dog training schools. The test involving the old pro, Aleck, was set up after lunch and the results were recorded in the following video.

 

RHOSL 2 VIDEO - ALECK

aleck

 

Out of respect for SL, I advised Mr. Flegler to send their representatives a copy of the videos. My mind raced with thoughts of what I may have done wrong or could have done differently with the tests. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be hearing from the SL people concerning the video, and I was very curious as to their feedback concerning the results. I believe that if the roles were reversed, I would have been on the next plane out to try to figure out just what went wrong. The FIRST thing would have been to request a testing of the real substances utilized which I fully expected. After a few days passed, I asked Mr. Flegler if he had heard from SL.  Mr. Flegler stated that while talking to SL their only response was that my substances must have been flawed while never asking to test my substances. I remember the sick feeling in my stomach as the realization set in that I had chosen to lend credibility to rhetoric and hype, over two successful detection canines with REAL experience, successful records and certifications, and actual drug cases. All of these things caused me to come to the realization, as any reasonable person would, that maybe the hype was illegitimate.

I did not know until recently that the SL rep chose to put Mr. Flegler in contact with an individual in California in an attempt to convince Mr. Flegler that SL was valid and trustworthy. The reason for sending Mr. Flegler to an individual who had trained their dog on SL products surprised me at first, until I realized the obvious. All SL had to do was convince somebody who had NO WAY of securing real substances that somebody in the LE community believed in SL. Add to that some scientific verbiage of support and BOOM,  faith restored. I do not know who this guy in the video is, but if listening to his comments and watching him interact with his dogs pretty much speaks for itself.  That video is provided next for your viewing, and thank you Mr. Flegler for supplying this footage along with my request for the others. Watch closely when the handler / trainer moves and when he is standing still. Watch how many times he HAS to bring the dog back to put the dog on top of the hide. Those of you who can SEE handler help and obvious ques will understand what I mean. Unfortunately that will represent about 25% of you out there. Watch and listen closely.

 

RHOSL 3 VIDEO - CALIFORNIA CONFIRMATION

Cali

 

Result of the footage …… a dog trained on synthetic will hit on synthetic only in this case with a  lot of handler help.

Approximately 6 months (November 2011) from the completion of the May 2011 school, and at Mr. Fleger’s  planning, I traveled to Australia to conduct a detection training seminar. SL had also been invited to do a talk on their products. Upon realizing that myself and SL representatives were in Australia at the same time, aside from a head nod, nothing was mentioned about the previous tests or any conversation for that matter. Foolishly, I assumed that an inquiry or question regarding the tests would be mentioned, and again avoidance on SL part was the chosen path. Before traveling to Australia, Mr. Flegler mentioned that he had been working his dog on SL Semtex. Mr Flegler knew that I would be bringing articles that had been contained with real substances to the seminar consisting of C4, Semtex, and TNT. Mr. Flegler asked if I would utilize the Semtex article to test his dog that he had been training steadily on SL Semtex. The scenario was set up yet again, as the one seen in the videos from Mississippi. Seven tubes containing meaningless odors, one tube empty, and one tube had the actual Semtex article. Upon deploying the dog, the results were exactly the same as seen during the previous tests in Mississippi. The dog trained on SL ignored the real substance scented article. My question to Chris was, “How many times do you need to see this before you realize the inevitable?” Chris replied, “I’ve got to have something to work with.”

In this world of dog training everyone is free to make decisions for themselves. Some are motivated to seek alternates to the REAL either, because of lack of ability to secure or lack of desire to accept the responsibility of handling the REAL substances.  Some are in a supervisory position where life is much easier to deal with alternates than to deal with consequences for possible mistakes utilizing REAL substances. It seems that all some people really need is a scientific reason to justify using an alternate. The market place is this world is flooded with products promoted using science. The words scientifically formulated, or Science Diet justification just to name a few. It became more and more suspicious to me that SL was utilizing a “scientific reasoning” and verbiage to lend credibility to a product that in my opinion, and based on my testing, isn’t even close to the REAL thing, yet SL still proclaims that their synthetic substitutes are BETTER than the actual substances.

I am thankful that my experience and accomplishments in Law Enforcement, and in this business of dog training, has allowed me the opportunity to conduct many seminars and schools over the past fifteen years. People pay me for my opinion and guidance, and my obligation is to give them the truth as I know it. But I have another obligation and that obligation is to the dogs I train. With very few exceptions some of the best people I’ve met in this business are those that put the “dog before the dollar”,  and some of the very worst people I’ve met put the “dollar before the dog”.  I encourage everyone I teach to be diligent and make up their own minds based on different opinions and fact about what is legit and what is not. In an effort to determine the validity of those facts the most important asset is knowledge. Knowledge for the most part is earned through experience. You can’t borrow experience, grandfather it in or buy it, it simply has to be earned.

After five years of nothing being said by SL, a SL representative chose to engage in a verbal discussion via Facebook EXACTLY where he left off 5 years earlier challenging my substances that he never requested to test. Rhetoric about Monsanto tomatoes and replicating voices, combined with physical challenges that if any certified dog would pass his product, he would pay $400 to the chosen charity of the handler. When presented with a study that was obviously his product did not fare well on his part, he simply chose to criticize his not knowing the names of the trainers, handlers and testers. He then offered a link to a rebuttal of the test and upon clicking the link, there was a request to pay money for some sort of subscription.

Please click the following links for published literature pertaining to these pseudo training aids.

 

"Fooling Fido" - Kranz, Strange, Goodpaster

Dissertation - William D. Kranz (Purdue University Graduate School)

 

Toward the end of the conversation, I promised the SL representative that I knew and respected people who believed in his product. I also remember how most of those same people just a few short years ago still believed it was necessary to FOOL a dog into thinking it was looking for a toy during detection. They thought it necessary to keep their feet moving to make up for initial training mistakes and inadequacies. That same OLD STYLE training that has been allowing expert witness to discredit Law Enforcement K-9 handlers for years. As a result we accuse the expert witnesses of transferring over to the dark side, yet many Law Enforcement Detection Trainers will not admit that their EGOs prevent them from exiting the DARK AGES of detection training. 

I am probably the minority in my beliefs and certainly in my detection training methods; but I will NEVER again doubt what a well-trained dog proves to me over profit motivated scientific rhetoric and promotion. It has been stated over and over by SL challenges that well trained dogs of real Substances would not pass over SL aids. Challenges consistent of setting out SL distractions to see if the dogs would pass over them can be found all over the web in blogs and social media. Toward the end of our social media conversation, I promised SL that I would do further testing of their product. After all, fresh new rhetoric of new and improved, longer shelf life, more scientific science…….maybe it did warrant a second look.  

The following video is of our last test. I know that cocaine and meth are sometimes different depending on their origins as far as chemical compounds and its effects on scent. It is for that reason Real Marijuana was chosen for this exercise. The consistency of the odor and the dogs accuracy in detecting Marijuana regardless of origin, is well known to most experienced canine handlers or trainers, and thus affords us an accurate test example. In conducting such a test, it is important to understand that certain precautions and rules will apply. Consider these rules for the following test:

  1. WELL-TRAINED DOGS – 4 Dogs were chosen for this exercise. It is and should be the responsibility of the examining entity to KNOW that each dog participating has NEVER been exposed to any synthetic including SL. Of all the tests I’ve seen meant to legitimizes SL, I knew half of them had already been involved in training on the SL product. Congrats….you have a SL dog. My belief resulting from my testing is that it has nothing to do with real substance odor.
  2. NOVEL ODOR element MUST be eliminated from the test. There will be other odors present during the test ranging from food to laundry detergent to saddle soap. There will be a choice for the dogs to make from REAL MARIJUANA to SL synthetic MARIJUANA. From the first day a dog runs into a field and grips a toy with his mouth, he learned that one scented object in a pristine field meant something. I have seen many try to prove a point by putting their product as the ONLY different object and attaching credibility to something by utilizing the Novel odor approach. Sorry…..not here.
  3. EACH ODOR WILL BE AFFORDED THE SAME visual and olfactory signature representation as the other, with the exception of, red tape assisting the audience with knowledge as to which odor box is which. Each of those two substances will be contained in a new and clean POD mounted inside its own brand new wooden box. Care and diligence is taken to insure that there is no cross contamination.  
  4. CREDIBLE SAMPLE will be used and NOT A SAMPLE shipped or provided by the manufacture representative. Synthetic Substance ordered directly from a retail outlet by a third person at random will be utilized in the testing within 48 hours from the date of arrival. Why, you may ask. When it comes to testing the credibility of what the dogs nose can and can not do…..I TRUST NOBODY. There will be no chance that anyone can offer substance that has been or could have been soaked or contained with the real stuff. LETS KEEP IT FAIR.
  5. VIDEO PROTOCOL will consist of absolutely NO pauses or cuts in the video. The camera is to run from the beginning of the test until the very end. I’ve always despised the fact that people attempt slight of hand or deception by turning camera off-----adjusting something-----then turning it back on. Not here!
  6. NO COERSION OR HANDLER HELP OF ANY TYPE......Each dog will be allowed to perform on its own and to make the choice of what the dog has been trained on, REAL MARIJUANA. An alert will be described as a total seize and desist of all forward progress at the box chosen with behavior consistent with expectation of reward and boxes will change position after each choice. K-9 will be rewarded regardless of box chosen. Most prefer a double blind especially of traditionally trained dogs so handler ques and coercion on the handlers and trainers part is less likely. Imagine the handler in the third video not knowing where the hide was. This is not a double blind as handler cues were never instilled in the training protocol. They are free from the “Clever Hans” effect. To allow the audience the benefit of knowing which box is SL, and which is REAL, it was necessary to know which was which and mark accordingly. So, while it is not a double blind, you will see absolutely NO assistance from the human participants. Double blinds for the future? I welcome them. This test is set up to allow the dogs to have the voice, so there is very little if any talking during the test. The audience is encouraged to make up their own minds.

RHOSL 4 VIDEO - FINAL TEST

New test

 

I truly love this profession and the many things dogs can do with us and for us. I take it very seriously. Is SL better than the real substances? In my opinion and from what I experience in my trained dogs……ScentLogix is not even close. Chemical compounds in processing Meth, Cocaine and Heroin……sure…..they can have a different scent signature to the dog, just like C-4 here in America might be different from C-4 in Iraq. It’s our responsibility to insure we are using quality substances that afford us the highest probability of success. If I live in Texas, I want to train on quality samples from interdiction stops that cross over from Mexico at Falfurrias or Juarez. In California the substances that come across in Tijuana and BOTH if I have the chance. During my time as a Sworn Law Enforcement Professional, I took an oath to do my job to the best of my ability during the course of my duties. I took that oath very seriously especially when it came to establishing probable cause and depriving somebody of their civil liberties. In court I was ALWAYS very comfortable testifying on the stand. I was comfortable and confident explaining to Council, Judge and Jury that my dogs’ actions and behavior at the defendants vehicle were EXACTLY the same as the many times I had trained with the laboratory tested and proven REAL substance for which the defendants were arrested. I cannot imagine explaining a legitimate training protocol with a substance other than what the statutes are written on with proven laboratory results. I had a defense attorney ask me once, ”Has your dog EVER been trained on anything other than the laboratory proven substance for which my client was arrested”?  I can’t tell you how many times I walked up to a traffic stop and knew the occupants were going to jail from smelling marijuana but there were many. Weed, for the most part smells like weed. The trained dogs in the last video worked hard and independently. My doubts about using SL stem from not one dog showed any sign of alert behavior at the SL box.  

ScentLogix would have you believe that unless a dog is trained on ScentLogix it doesn’t truly know odor. Thanks…..but unless that can be proven to me without verbiage and old style training, I’m sticking with the REAL both for my confidence and for credibility in court. I’ve had a few people that I interviewed explain that the ScentLogix trained dog is equivalent to training dogs to detect hamburgers without the hamburger meat (representation of THC). The onions, tomatoes, lettuce, dressing, bread and cheese are a pure combination for finding the hamburger. Problem is, without the hamburger meat (THC), all I smell is a salad. Not one dog stopped at the salad.     

I have absolutely nothing to gain monetarily or business wise by voicing my opinion on this product. What I do have is an absolute love for this profession.  If I’m wrong, FINE, show me under the context of what I have done in my tests. My intention is to uncover the truth, and to let well trained dogs have as much voice as they possibly can concerning that truth. In this last video I believe their message was loud and clear. This is my opinion and I still encourage everyone to make up their own mind.

Copyright © 2017. Randy Hare.