Episode 74: Dog Myths

Air Date: March 14, 2007

You can get past a vicious guard dog by distracting it with a raw steak.

plausible

The steak successfully distracted the guard dog for several moments. Once the dog finished eating and realized there was no more food, it attacked Kari. After the test, the trainer claimed that the dog could be trained to ignore specific things like steak.

You can get past a vicious guard dog by acting aggressive.

busted

Aggressive behavior did not defer an attack.

You can get past a vicious guard dog by acting submissive.

busted

Submissive behavior did not defer an attack.

You can get past a vicious guard dog by distracting it with a pheromones from a lactating female dog.

busted

The pheromones did not have any effect on the guard dog. They are said to calm puppies.

You can get past a vicious guard dog by distracting it with wolf urine.

plausible

The guard dog hesitated significantly, but eventually attacked Kari.

You can get past a vicious guard dog by distracting it with urine from a female dog.

confirmed

The dog was absolutely distracted by the urine, allowing Tory plenty of time to get past it.

You can get past a vicious guard dog by distracting it with a robotic cat.

plausible

The dog was distracted momentarily but eventually attacked.

You can get past a vicious guard dog by traveling inside a 50 gallon barrel.

plausible

Tory built a wheeled barrel that to use as a protective shell. He nearly got past the dog but his attempt was called off when the trainer thought the dog might tip the barrel over and injure Tory.

You can get past a vicious guard dog by traveling inside of a metal sphere.

plausible

Kari built a metal sphere covered in plastic that she could walk inside of. Kari got past the dog but she did not have a good way to escape.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by backtracking, zig-zagging, and going up a tree.

busted

Adam, acting as a fugitive on the run, had five minutes to run in zig-zags, doubled back, and climb a tree. The blood hound easily found him.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by crossing a river.

busted

The bloodhound found Adam very easily.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by covering part of your trail with ground pepper.

busted

The bloodhound was briefly confused, but it soon rediscovered the trail and found Adam.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by washing your body and changing your clothes.

busted

The bloodhound was initially overwhelmed by the concentrated scent of Adam at the washing point. The trainer knew this and walked the dog in a wide circle until it found the escape trail. The hound then easily found Adam.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by rubbing your body with coffee and cologne.

busted

The bloodhound did not have any trouble finding Adam.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by traveling through an urban environment.

plausible

The bloodhound was overwhelmed by the multitude of distracting smells in the city. It did find Adam after 90 minutes, but did not actually follow his trail. The handler noted that a bloodhound with experience in cities could do better.

(The MythBusters eventually tested more ways to outsmart a bloodhound on Episode 149: Hair of the Dog.)

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

busted

Adam and Jamie each trained a 7 year old Alaskan Malamute five new tricks in just one week.

40 Comments

  1. Diggity says:

    Not having seen this episode I can’t say too much, but if they just walked across the river, thats not an adequate test, especially if its one you can actually walk through, instead of swim.

    Really, you’d have to walk up or down stream a significant amount for that to work with any small body of water.

  2. Steven says:

    Heh.. seems I can’t spell it either.. ;-)

  3. Steve says:

    Bloodhound or not, any dog would be significantly and effectivly distracted by secretions from a “bitch on heat” used on a cloth or other object. used in conjunction with back tracking or some other simple diversion is extremely effective. shame they did not try this!

  4. Gary says:

    The thing I thought was coolest was how the bloodhound and the guy worked together, the dog’s smell and the guy’s intelligence. Truly a beautiful synergy.

  5. Suicism says:

    I loved this episode; I do feel, however, that describing the female dog (who’s urine successfully distracted the guard-dog) as being in heat is ESSENTIAL to the specifics of why this myth was indeed confirmed; don’t know if you’re worried about calling her a bitch, but it IS a technical term despite whatever pressure the P.C. team might like to put on programs to remain ‘child-friendly…’

  6. BuckHunter says:

    I would have been curious if the bloodhound myth was tried with scent eliminating clothing and sprays which have become very popular in certain types of wildlife hunting. This type of clothing is lined with a carbon product that is used “trap” the human scent. As advertised by the various companies out there, activated carbon is the most absorptive substance known to man. This would be a great test if the myth is ever revisited.

  7. Craig says:

    The overall “scent picture” that a dog follows is not comprised exclusively of the human scent. What the dog is following is a combination of human scent, and moisture released from ground disturbance, damaged vegetation, etc. The most significant factor is vegetation (think showering after being in a bar, and the wet ashtray smell). Factors that affect this are temperature, air movement, perspiration, ground/ vegetation disturbance etc. A fresh track is easy for a dog to follow, as it ages, moisture decreases, and the strength of the scent picture decreases accordingly.

  8. Craig says:

    Amend last comment – The most significant factor is moisture, not vegetation. OOPS!!!

  9. Brett says:

    Dear Mythbusters,

    I have a bloodhound and I have never seen the dog myths episode. Is it possible to purchase this episode? Or if not could you tell me when it might be aired again. I am an avid Mythbusters fan!! Keep up the good work guys!!

    Regards,
    ~Brett S.

    P.S. Also I think comment #9 (scent trap clothing and sprays) would be a good myth re-visit to see if they actually work on trapping scent and if they can fool a bloodhound.

  10. Dana says:

    I think that the guard dog used in this episode was not very good. I know specialy trained dogs that will not take food from strangers (its a standard training for police dogs in my country, so they could not be poisened by food) and will not be destracted very much by a bitch on heat and if so, only for a short while

  11. Paul says:

    Good on them for even being able to teach a Malamute anything in a week.I’ve always found them pretty dumb.

    • MSpears says:

      They’re not so much ‘dumb’ as ‘stubborn’ and ‘independent’. It really helps to begin training when they’re still puppies.

  12. paul malley says:

    You get past a guard dog by:
    a) Being more Intelligent than it.
    b) Being more agressive than it.

    For a
    I have heard it said that the Fuzz use Alsations/German Shephards as they are
    basically a stupid dog, they will charge a
    man with a gun. The doberman on the other hand, once it learns what a gun is, will not.
    Perhaps the B team should have tried an intelligent dog.

    For b

    I walk round the block most evenings, four
    circuits takes hour and a half.
    It is in the country, the houses are on
    two to five acre plots. I wear army boots,
    joggers only last a couple of months.
    The local dogs don’t much like me,to cut a tedious story short one went for me the other evening, the propery owner had left the gate open.
    I kicked its ***!!! head off, it ran away
    whimpering, now when I walk past it runs
    and hides, I like it like that.
    If you want another one? PG is recommended.

    There was a bloke at the ‘Shooters, he had
    been a security guard over on the Shakey
    Isles.I don’t think that they are allowed
    hand guns, it being strictly verboten to shoot the natives.
    He had a large Alsation on a fishing reel type setup, he could sent the dog off to
    investigate then reel it back.
    There was a bit of a ruckus one evening, he
    sent the dog off to investigate.
    There was a lot of barking and shouting
    then the line went slack and it was all quiet.He went to investigate no dog, no
    fealons.
    He later on heard that the had barbequed
    his animal.

    redpigg

  13. Scared and bemused says:

    I believe the answer to that is: wtf…?

  14. Josh says:

    i dont care what dog it is or how meen it is if you gave it a big steak i definatly think it would distract it if not make you its friend forever

  15. Dave says:

    I suggested the steak guard dog myth test on the discovery website a year or more ago, glad to see it got used. :)

  16. Grant says:

    I’d like to see if a strong scent such as creosote would throw off the scent of a bloodhound, as in the Sherlock Holmes story “The Sign Of Four”

    • Richard Berthlot says:

      Sherlock’s dog, Toby, was actually following a trail of creosote and was thrown off when it passed near the shipping yards where it became a similar compound was used to treat boats of the 19th century.

  17. maricris r says:

    Ooo… I like the idea from comment #19, to recreate Sherlock Holmes’ solution for throwing off the bloodhound. Since, we’re on the same subject, why not integrate the more successful results of the guard dog test with throwing off the bloodhound test, as the comment#6 said?

  18. maricris r says:

    I also think that the throwing off the bloodhound by walking on a river is not complete. I think that it is not the matter of the depth of the river but how fast is it moving (I think they did said this in the episode, as far as I remember).

  19. Jim says:

    Hi, I found this site while I was researching the subject of tricking bloodhounds.
    We had a local fugitive a few years ago, who gave the New York State Police a run for their money.
    They never did catch him.
    He had his 10 year old son with him on the run in the woods.
    I spoke to the kid after it happened and he told me how his dad tricked the dogs and the helicopters.
    He did something with kerosene, either spreading it all over the woods, or on his clothes.
    It must have worked because the NYSP never caught the guy and he now lives in Florida.

  20. Theresa says:

    Loved this one..However have a question and am wondering if u might have an answer for me…
    Is a dogs mouth cleaner than a humans mouth?
    Think u had it on one of your shows once however can’t find it and my son and i are at a disagreement with it… Thank you so very much and have a great day!

  21. Kusumura says:

    “had left the gate open.
    I kicked its ***!!! head off, it ran away
    whimpering, now when I walk past it runs
    and hides, I like it like that.”

    Erm. If somebody kicked you in the nuts and/or beat the living daylights out of you, you’d remember them and instinctively dodge, even if they only offered their hand to shake. The dog would probably remember your scent and not offer you a second chance or reason to strike it again.

    Besides that, it’s just.. Cruel to beat things up that can’t make a formidable argument. Pick on something your own size, school-yard bully.

  22. Sean says:

    The bloodhound tracking them accross the river is totally inaccurate, Adam only walked across a river about 6 feet wide if i remember right and it was maybe as deep as a foot or 2, in order to test this right i think it needs to be done on a real river, deep enough, and wide enough to have to actually swim accross it.

  23. Michael says:

    Sean, wouldn’t matter. The handler would just go to the other side and pick the scent up again. The scent is not picked up in the water, it is refound on the other side. The river can be 50m deep and 50m wide and as long as he gets out it’ll be found.

    Paul, try that on my dog and you’ll lose an arm. Dogs are trained to work how the handler wants them to work. If the handler wants them to take down a guy with a gun then it will, if they don’t, it won’t. It has nothing to do with breed.

    A properly trained dog will not be tricked by anything. If the handler is intelligent and the dog has had a lot of training then you will not beat it.

    Josh, dogs are only as stupid as their handler generally. Mallies are intelligent, if you could not teach one basic tricks then that shows more about your intelligence than his :)

  24. Gary says:

    Some tracking dogs are known as “air scent” dogs. A river won’t deter them as they are following the scent trail up in the air. A slight breeze will move it. My previous German Shepherd was a natural at it. If you ran and hid, after releasing him, he’d bound over to wherever you were, not exactly following my foot tracks. And yes training is everything.

  25. Kimione says:

    What happened to the Alaskan malamutes after the show was taped? Did anyone adopt them?

  26. larry says:

    in the car repo world a bigmac works evertime on pitbulls–hes your freind after he smells it,its being brave enough to open the door to have the dog smell it.heheheh

  27. Matthew Plunkett says:

    I think the best way to trick a bloodhound is by wearing air-tight clothes because, like you said in the show, people give off skin cells in which bloodhounds can track and follow the trail of skin cells to the person. So in my theory, the air-tight clothing will prevent the skin cells from escaping, preventing trails of skin cells.

  28. Pro-K9 says:

    To many of those here :

    Ever heard of when the US Army needed to train dogs to sniff out land mines which were then being made from a plastic and therefore something their metal detectors couldn’t find?

    The dogs were trained for the trial. The land mines were buried. The ground was covered in oil and then burnt. They spread live and spent ammunition shells all over the area. They left the grounds ‘sit’ for a good period of time.

    Yet when the dogs were finally brought in, they were able to detect where they were.

    Also, water ‘traps’ scent. Scent is carried along water. Scent doesn’t just disappear and then carry on over the other side of the embankment. The trouble with water is that, subject to wind/breeze conditions, it can carry the scent downstream for a long way. Of course, any scent dog handler worth his salt will be able to work out to a good degree how weather conditions may have influenced the scent and narrow the target field down somewhat.

    Scent comes off your head as well. If a person was wearing “air-tight clothes” (which wouldn’t work anyway), the person would be dead through suffocation. Breath carries scent. If you even put on new gum boots, your scent permiates the rubber in a matter of only minutes.

    There was also the matter where it was necessary for dogs to detect the presence of naturally occurring chlorine in the ground. The laboratories didn’t believe the dog when a sample of soil (at which a dog indicated positive) was sent in. They measured it at 1:1millionth part. And the labs did not detect the substance. On being recommended that they retest, they found the dog had detected the substance at 1:1billionth part!!!

    I could go on.

    NEVER EVER underestimate the dog’s cabability of scenting.

    There is no equipment on earth that can measure scent as well as a dog can.

  29. Sian says:

    I found this episode quite interesting (loved Kari’s hamster ball), but no one has raised the most obvious problem with the ‘bitch in heat scent’ guard dog distraction: would the results have been the same if the guard dog was a neutered male or a female?

  30. Sian says:

    aggressive dog story: There were a pair of huge Great Pyrannees (sp?) on our country road who perked up at any vehicle/cycle etc and raced out of their property to chase it. I read a technique to deal with it and tried it. Whenever they raced out, I hit the brakes and backed up, effectively chasing them. By the third day, they would lift their heads when my car appeared, then lower them in digust. I could almost hear them sigh. My family did the same thing on their bikes, and we had no further trouble. My husband has since used the technique successfully while riding his bike on other assorted country roads.

  31. Dragonfyre says:

    I agree with Sian…obviously a female guard dog would not react to the bitch in heat urine…but guard dogs are vigorously trained to ignore certain things, German shepherds learning faster. Electric collars are used to teach dogs that certain actions result in punishment, such as going after treats and such…law enforcement takes the training of canines very seriously…or it seems they should…

  32. Stephen says:

    At the end of this episode just as the theme music started it said dedicated to the memory of or it could have been something similar but it went to quick to read & was wondering what it actually said….

  33. John C says:

    I trained my 14 year old Basset to sneeze on command in a week. Her sneezes sounded fake but so do my phony sneezes. I was never able to train my daughter’s cat for 15 years to stay off the counters except when someone was in the room. Old dogs are just as trainable as younger ones and any dog is 100 times more trainable than any cat.

  34. Chloe says:

    I never actually watched this episoide but it is intersting… @ Paul Malley – It comes down to training. No dog knows that a gun is dangerous until it is proven so if the dog is trained either to ignore the danger/fear or is never taught the danger it will charge (if taught to charge).

    and kicking ANY animal is abuse. Taking pleasure in it is cruel and sadistic, having said that, the last person who tried to kick my dog ended up with stitches in their leg. Turns out she takes offence to people moving towards her rapidly.

  35. Clara says:

    how would female dog urine distract a vicious guard dog?

    • Mart says:

      You’re kidding or you’ve just never seen any dog around a bitch in heat (yeah, I’m not gonna call her a ‘female dog’. Bitch really is the proper term).

  36. Jason says:

    ammonia trail behind you, the LAST thing the dog will want to do is follow that trail.

  37. daffers234 says:

    Someone else mentioned this … what if the guard dog was female?

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