Hey, Retrievers fans! I wanted to take a moment to correct some misinformation that’s been going around the interwebs–sometimes shared by very credible sites, but it’s wrong nonetheless. It has to do with lost dogs and human scent. Here’s what you should know.
The “scent” that a dog detects is carried in the dead skin cells (known as “raft”) that are shed by the human body at a rate of 40,000 per minute. We are constantly surrounded by a cloud of raft. Think Pig Pen from the Peanuts cartoon strip. Raft falls off the body and is carried by the wind or drops to the ground. (That’s why some search and rescue [SAR] dogs are trained to track scent on the ground, while others lift their nose for scent still in the air.)
So unless you’re dressed in a haz mat suit while setting up a trap or feeding station, you WILL leave your scent there. You’ll leave your scent when you walk away. It does no good to spray Pam on a trap. In fact, that would just make the metal sticky and cause MORE raft to collect on it.
Experienced handlers of tracking dogs also say there’s no product that will effectively mask human scent (and you can bet plenty of fugitives have tried!).
So, what does this mean for lost dog searches? Simply understand that that skittish dogs will weigh their fear of humans with their need for food. They may detect that a human being has been at a feeding station or trap, but then, there’s a hank of roast beef there NOW. Would a dog rather starve than approach an area that has “was-there-but-not-there-now” human scent? Not likely, IMO.
There’s no need for Pam, and scent blocker is a waste of money. Just trust in a lost dog’s survival instincts. Put good-smelling food in front of them and let nature take its course.