To date, laboratory scent-detection work with dogs has been a manual process whereby some or all aspects of the procedures are mediated by researchers. Automation of this process would eliminate issues associated with cuing, subjectivity in data collection, and reinforcement delivery. Herein, I describe an automated apparatus that can accommodate almost any type of sample that can be brought into the laboratory. The apparatus consists of a 17-segment carousel that rotates behind a panel. Dogs can access a single sample at a time through a port in the panel. Infrared beams are used to detect sample observations and indications, and a dog-activated switch is used to advance the carousel to the next sample. Correct indications are reinforced with an automated feeder. After screening 12 dogs, 5 dogs were selected and trained to use the apparatus to classify samples containing amyl acetate. All dogs achieved hit rates and correct rejection rates at or near 100% in fewer than 25 half-days of training (mean: 19.6, range: 12–24). These data suggest that the apparatus can be used to obtain accurate sample classification without excessive training requirements. Future improvements to the apparatus and training protocols may reduce the training requirements further.

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