Dogs Trained for Narcotics Detection

Narcotics Canines Artwork Website

From 2001-2005, Joel was licensed with the DEA as a “dog researcher”, and trained dogs for narcotics detection. These dogs were supplied to some of the schools in the Santa Clarita and Frazier Park areas in California. Back then, his dogs were trained to alert on marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroine.

Because of Duchess’s incredible prey drive and desire to work, Joel has trained her for narcotics detection as well, and is available to work anywhere in the U.S. As of now she is trained to alert on the odors of marijuana and cocaine. As she starts to understand the training more and more, we will begin to introduce the additional odors of methamphetamine and heroine.


  • How are dogs trained to detect odors? There are two ways, and this is achieved either by using treats or using some sort of toy as a reward. Either way, the dog must understand that there is a reason to want to work, and there must be something in it for the dog. We must say, and other dog trainers that train dogs for narcotics and explosives would agree, that the easiest and most reliable way is using the toy as a reward. Trainers that have spent years doing this have found that the training becomes simpler and the reliability gets even better when they are training a dog with a high prey drive, and the dog really wants to please them and work. Remember that “prey drive” is a dog’s natural desire to go after prey. It does not necessarily mean that the dog wants to kill an animal, however the dog will use three things to focus on the prey, and those three things will be a lot more elevated than in other dogs. Those three things are the dog’s sight, sound, and vision, and the dog watching, hearing, and smelling are what will bring that high prey drive dog to finding the toy. A great example is Duchess has an unusually high prey drive, and she was actually returned back the Nevada Humane Society three times prior to Joel adopting her. The main reason she had so many behavioral issues stemmed from this high prey drive and the fact she was so reactive.
  • Can any dog be trained to detect narcotics or other odors? Yes, but there is a catch. Like we just mentioned, you can certainly teach most dogs using treats, but the dog will NEVER be as effective as a high prey drive dog that is trained with using that toy a reward.
  • Does Joel train other people’s dogs for scent detection? Yes he does, and if you are interested please fill out one of our forms under the “contact us” link at the top right on the menu bar.