Dogs have been trained to sniff out everything from tumors to meteorites… and now they’re being taught to detect truffles!
Truffles, known as the “diamonds” of the food world, are worth upwards of $3,000 per pound. These members of the fungi family grow deep in the earth among tree roots, and are often hunted with the help of trained pigs. Working with these animals, however, can be challenging. Which is why some dog trainers are teaching canines to do the job instead.
Dogs are well-known for their ability to find things using their incredible noses – everything from bombs to diseases. According to Alana McGee, owner of the Truffle Dog Company, while certain characteristics such as drive, endurance and friendliness are assets, all breeds can be taught to sniff out truffles – including average family pets! McGee uses positive reinforcement to help canines and their humans learn this skill, and has worked with Chihuhuas, Great Danes, and everything in between.
The training process begins by teaching the dog to identify the scent. Fido is then taught to track the scent in a controlled outdoor environment, and to alert his handler when he finds a truffle. “It is great fun and a great bonding experience, which builds confidence in the dogs and handlers alike,” says McGee.
Interested in training your dog to hunt truffles? More info at truffledogcompany.com.