The following article originally appeared as "Upgrading the dogs of war" on the BBC FUTURE web site.
Research assistant Beth Case walks IED Detector Dog candidate Jimmy up open stairs and down the test ramp as Dr. Barbara Sherman, clinical professor of veterinary behavior, observes. Led by Dr. Sherman and Dr. David Dorman, a professor of toxicology, the CVM research involves a number of tests that can predict which dogs will be the best bomb dogs. Tests to measure factors such as intelligence and motivation
include climbing industrial stairs, measuring reaction to gunshots, ability to be trained to detect a variety of scents, and ability to work "off leash" in new surroundings – not something that has traditionally been looked for or rewarded in working military dogs – but could prove critical for bomb dogs.