Episode 148: Hair of the Dog

Air Date: October 6, 2010

The MythBusters originally tested mythical techniques for outsmarting a scent-tracking dog in Episode 74: Dog Myths. The following additional techniques were suggested by fans of the show and tested with the same bloodhound and trainer that were used previously.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by covering part of your trail with Red Herring.

busted

Jamie, acting as an escaped convict, was given a 5 minute head start. He dropped several cans of Red Herring (Kipper) somewhere in the middle of his trail in hopes of overwhelming the dog’s sense of smell. The bloodhound stopped momentarily to eat some of the herring, but the trainer made him continue. The dog seemed to have lost the trail so the trainer brought him back to the herring (where he knew Jamie must have been) and the dog found the trail again and soon found Jamie.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by wearing a no-scent suit.

busted

Jamie washed himself carefully and adorned a “no-scent suit” used by hunters. The dog found him easily.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by crossing deep water.

busted

Jamie waded through a river that was significantly wider and deeper than the one Adam crossed in episode 74. The dog found him without trouble.

You can trick a trained bloodhound using a lineup of multiple people.

plausible

Five volunteers left behind an unwashed shirt and crossed a grassy field. One two separate trials, the dog was given one shirt to smell and it made a beeline for the owner of that shirt. However, the dog did not signal to the trainer in a definitive way either time.

You can trick a trained bloodhound by very carefully concealing your body odor and spraying a fake scent trail.

busted

Jamie first washed himself with special products containing enzymes to remove odors. Assistants helped him put on two layers of sealed clothing and a gas mask that filtered his breath as he exhaled. The assistants then sprayed him with acetone. Jamie was also given a backpack sprayer containing water from his bath, allowing him to lay out a false trail.

The hound first followed the false trail and found Jamie’s discarded backpack, but it barely paused before heading right to Jamie’s hiding place.

You can hide contraband from a “sniffer dog” (police drug/explosive-detecting dog) by covering the contraband with coffee.

busted

Grant, Tory, and Kari went to a 17,000 square foot warehouse test these myths. They put the (unspecified) contraband in a tupperware container and filled it with coffee grounds before hiding the container. The person who hid it was also careful to spread their own scent randomly throughout the warehouse. The dog found the contraband within 5 minutes.

You can hide contraband from a sniffer dog by covering the contraband with peanut butter.

busted

The dog easily found the contraband.

You can hide contraband from a sniffer dog by covering the contraband with perfume.

busted

The dog easily found the contraband.

You can hide contraband from a sniffer dog by covering the contraband with bleach.

busted

The dog easily found the contraband.

You can hide contraband from a sniffer dog by covering the contraband with citronella.

busted

The dog easily found the contraband.

You can distract a sniffer dog using lots of people, noise, and other chaos.

busted

Over 200 people were brought in to create a mock party. A taco truck and stereo were also present. One person was given the contraband as well as a high-pitch noise maker designed to repel dogs. Whenever the search dog came close to the contraband holder, he activated the high-pitch noise. The dog was not distracted by any of these things and it successfully found the contraband.

You can distract a sniffer dog with a female dog in heat.

busted

The search dog was, in fact, rather distracted when the female was present. However, the handler made sure the female was removed from the area (as would be done in real-world searches) and the search dog found the contraband.

You can trick the handler of a sniffer dog by using food as a potential false-positive.

busted

Tory placed the contraband under a false bottom within a piece of luggage and then filled the luggage with food such as bread and cheese. The intent was to fool the handler into thinking the dog was interested in the food rather than contraband. The dog found the luggage and the handler found the contraband within.

You can trick the handler of a sniffer dog by placing contraband in something disgusting.

busted

In hopes that the handler would not be willing to search through something so disgusting, Kari hid the contraband in a bag of old, dirty diapers. The dog found the bag and the handler found the contraband within.

47 Comments

  1. failure says:

    LameMythbusters didn’t even try to contain the scent to fool the sniffer dog.
    1. Put contraband in test tube.
    2. Melt end of tube closed.
    3. Send tube through dish washer 10 times.
    4. Enclose that tube in a larger tube and melt that tube closed.
    5. Sent the tube within a tube through the dish washer another 10 times.
    6. Take care to ensure a different human handles the tube.
    7. Use different kitchens with different dishwashers.

    • jeff says:

      use a tube with contraband inside. close off tube, put in a larger tube, fill with WATER!!!

      • Aaron says:

        That’s retarded the sniffer dog will easily find the contraband . Water does not work (hot or cold)plastic, glass, metal , ect. Can not conceal the the molecules that seep through these materials from a sniffer dog, the only way to stop a sniffer dog is to injure the dogs nose , but you can not trick it, and goodluck trying to injure it with a chemical as the dog will not put his nose closer than a foot away from the contraband or anything else before he finds it

        • Aaron says:

          But iv always had the theory of tricking a sniffer dog by rubbing the scent of the contraband strongly in different areas then concealing the contraband close by so that the dog will pick up the scent in a place where it was rather than it is , but then you have to fool the handler too ..

          • Aaron says:

            Awsome episode tho, interesting and educational, it was clever to make a series of shows that exploits answers to most of the things we wonder about. I predict the ratings will always be there, as new myths are born daily

    • Marto says:

      so. He also is directing Total Recall, and he was the one who cast her in that. Whitesell had nohitng to do with either of those roles. Thank her husband.Kate Beckinsale is no different than a lot of big name actresses in Hollywood. She is looking for good work and there are very few good roles in Hollywood for women, especially women approaching 40. Sure, she could work consistently. But she’s an intelligent woman who wants to do good work, as she has done many times in her career.

  2. Terry says:

    That was one of the best Myth Busters I have seen. However, the one where Jaime sprayed himself to cover his scent, he did it in front of the dog and I wondered if that scent is what the dog went after. You guys and girls are amazing!

    Don’t listen to the name calling from people who cannot appreciate genious at work.

  3. Aristocracy says:

    I read the first comment and it might work, In my opinion.

    Also, would putting contraband into a vacuum packed plastic not remove it’s smell ?

    Sadly I didn’t watch this episode.

    • Kamal says:

      Natalia Sha. :Tachkent est la ville de pain. C’est vrai. Mythe et le9genda fait notre ville natale dnyecemuot. Mais il e9tait et cruel parfoit. Ne nado sopleyi.

  4. Nick says:

    How about something simple that seals completely… like a tub of motor oil??? If you seal something in a plastic bag, than submerge that bag into a a gallon jug of motor oil… wouldn’t the motor oil completely seal off the smell???

  5. Kyle says:

    I don’t know if anyone has noticed but the mythbusters never seem to be able to “beat” the police in anything. And as they have police co-operation in all their myths, it seems to me that they only test things in a way that insures the cops win. For example, Jamie should have been able to escape the dog considering everything they put him though, but did it strike anyone as funny that they would test different SINGLE methods to beat the blood hound, and then wrap Jamie up and give him a thing full of his shower stuff, and send him on his run? That’s two different things going on, and if Jamie made a single misstep then the hound has got him. I don’t think the police would participate if they thought they would be busted. Its not good publicity and even worse I think it would open Mythbusters up to legal ramifications if someone was able to commit a crime because of something they saw on the show, after all why do you think they won’t tell us whats in some of their better home made BOOM! stuff? I am almost certain that not all Mythbuster episodes are completely non-biased.

    • RandomAnimations27 says:

      What about the episode “Motorcycle Flip” where Kari, Tory, and Grand managed to escape prison with ropes made of bedsheets, toilet paper, and hair?

      • Kyle says:

        That’s IF you could get to the wall, and I think that a million cops would notice you repelling down the wall of the court house if you tried it… They weren’t up against police in that episode… I am only talking about episodes where the Mythbusters compete with the police… Beat the Radar and the like…

        • Ralph says:

          But yes Kyle, I agree with you, I too was more than a little skeptical at how police bloodhounds, police K9s and police speed cameras (all police property, all tested only with their permission, under their terms, and at their facilities) are all magically mathematically impossible to defeat by any means…and this is from guys who take great pains to match the result (if not the circumstances) of even the most implausible myths.

          I happen to know the primary weakness of a sniffer dog is it’s training; police dogs can be trained to sniff out people OR drugs OR explosives, not all three.

          Plus, it’s far harder to train a drug sniffer dog than any other kind, since explosives usually have lots of volatile compounds that penetrate plastic very easily and bloodhounds are naturally skilled trackers of all kinds of creatures.

          Furthermore, polypropylene or polystyrene (can’t remember which) has been known for years to be an effective vapor barrier against all known drug odors. The synthetic pores are small enough (sub-micron) to prevent any of the particles from escaping, and presuming the exterior is properly decontaminated (triple bleach wash), there should be zero odor emission, at least according to the K9 handler who told me so.

      • Andrew Jennings says:

        There is a substantial difference between that and what was done in this episode. Because while the MythBusters did prove that it is theoretically possible to escape prison by making a rope out of toilet paper, or bedsheets, or hair, let’s face it, no one in their right mind would ever dare make the attempt outside the show for fear of their lives. On the other hand, showing the public some simple way to smuggle illegal contraband past sniffer dogs would likely spread like the plague.

    • Ralph says:

      Since M5 Industries is located in San Francisco, they pretty much have to get state licenses, full police permission and paid supervision for everything they do that involves guns, explosives, even black powder or rocketry materials. This would not be the case in many other states.

      Notice how often they go to the Alameda Co Bomb Range and get the retired FBI agent to supervise them while they build bombs, and shoot assault rifles and handguns?

      That’s not the kind of thing you get in California unless you’re a TV network paying the cops for celebrity privileges and openly promoting their agency in a positive light, which Discovery does to the tune of literally hundreds of thousands of dollars every time do a gun or explosive myth.

    • ranran says:

      agreed! good obervation.. i was thinking that too- it would be a crime against the US or slander if they busted anything realting to law enforcement, safety, or the government..

      they probably obliged to get Obama on the show… haha

    • Kristina says:

      I just came across this and I only saw it because I was interested in learning about blood hounds. Ok I see your point about not teaching people how to break the law I mean that would be stupid right. The part about not testing their equipment unless its by them or a their place is crap. Would you just let a stranger that youre pretty sure has a problem with you just get in your vehicle for a test drive? Umm no and further more just take a minute and think about what these dogs are used for. Trackers are used to find escaped murderers and missing children. Drug dogs are taught to sniff out meth and other dangerous drugs. So are you saying that you wouldnt want these dogs there when your family goes missing because they are handled by the police? And meth is one of the most horrible drugs in my area at the moment and these drug dogs get crap loads of this stuff off the streets and away from our kids. I have a 7 and 10 year old and am thankful that these dogs are here to help and you shouldnt even be irritated because this show didnt teach someone to be an even worse criminal than they were before..

      • Ryan says:

        Kristina, while I agree with some of your points, you sound overly paranoid. I don’t think bringing “the children” into your argument serves any purpose other than to sensationalize and strip up emotions; the fact you have children is entirely irrelevant to the discussion.

        My main issue is that drug dogs also catch everyday people who are in possession of substances like cannabis, which everyone knows should be legalized. The other issue is that “security through obscurity” is never an effective methodology. More specifically, if Mythbusters is purposely avoiding tests that would show any potential flaws in these security systems they aren’t really helping in the long run; the information will get out anyway (trust me). They may as well show all aspects of the issue, including any shortcomings.

    • Chris says:

      I have often agreed with your theory of police and not wanting to air how to beat them. (below reply of prison escape is a huge task, plus once you’re out you still have a lot to go) I noticed, and thought that the red herring got the dog off of Jamie’s trail (passed him by) and went to the end of their trail in which they then turned around and went back, knowing Jaime was no further. Yet, they called it busted because the dog found him AFTER TURNING AROUND!!! In real life they would have continued on… not knowing that the perpetrator is still within the park limits.

  6. qwertyuiop says:

    Why have Jamie spray that bathwater?

    Just run with the suit only. That way the dog has nothing to go on, and Jamie doesn’t risk getting tiny droplets of the bathwater on himself which would give the dog a scent.

    and I think what Kyle said is spot on.

  7. readysteady says:

    As far as the bloodhound trials go, there is no such thing as ‘no scent.’ A scenting or trailing dog has at least 100 million more olfactory receptors than deer, rabbits, etc., so hunter’s gear won’t fool them. Bloodhounds know everything about an individual from one whiff, their quarry’s cells are inside them. No, they couldn’t have fooled the dog and handler together. Why would you want to discredit an exercise like this? Most bloodhound/handler teams are not owned by police departments, they are lifetime partners outside of the police force – their only job is to trail and find, no politics, no bureaucratic agenda. While the TV episode (yes, that’s right, it’s television) might seem pro-cop, the reality is bloodhounds are useful and accurate and Mythbusters proved what most SAR trials and real-life experiences prove time and again.

  8. colmo says:

    i may seem a little off-topic but have you noticed Kari’s hot dress in the luggage store? OMG!

    • 250law says:

      LoL.. Kari is a chicken $h!t.. for some reason I don’t like her on the show. I hated the episode where she was chosen to go under water in a cage with the sharks testing the myth about punching the sharks in the nose but she cried her way out.. that made my day. i could mention other episodes too but it will take too long lol

  9. dayna says:

    You can trick a trained bloodhound by crossing deep water?

    My husband and I watch this show not only to learn something but also to see it there is anyway the myth busters could be wrong and watching this episode we were able to do just that–when Jamie went through the water the dog was able to stay on his trail because only half of his body was under water, there was still the top half of Jamie to cause a scent trail above the water. If he had of tried to swim under the water for a little bit he might just be able to beat the dog.

    • Mart says:

      No he woudnt. People seriously underestimate dogs scent here. Its not even comparable to human scent. Just from sniffing you, a dog can tell who you’re family members are up to seconds cousin. A dog scent work on the cellular level, water doesnt bother them at all.

  10. set says:

    So you expect to tell the public how to smuggle things and how easy it is to beat the dog :) The main thing is transfer of smells or in other words – wash your hands :) They did not try diesel fuel – the main way that drugs are smuggled in large quantity all over the world, package inside a package and that is dipped in the diesel tank – smell that dog :) Works every time, but now they use radars as well so special type of package is needed that don’t show. But for just sending, use gloves when packaging, wash your hands, and better use another person for each layer of the package ( that don’t use drugs ;) )

  11. Kal says:

    They have certainly gone “against” the police in some things… They showed ways that worked to get into a house past an alarm, for example. They showed ways to get away from trained guard dogs in the last dog special. And no, proving a way to get past police would not be a crime against the US. I think that if it was REALLY a problem, then they just wouldn’t show the segment at all rather than lie. As for the fact that Jamie wasn’t completely submerged- they were testing it the way it’s stated, I’ve never heard of anyone who claimed that you could submerge all the way.

    I also think that it makes sense to be supervised by retired/active policemen when doing explosions, etc. Why would you have to pay someone off to make sure you don’t die in an explosion, or kill someone else?

  12. dom says:

    I think they should have someone else ley the false scent trailw while jamie went in the other direction

  13. Jason says:

    The envelopes were not completely emersed in the masking agents. The ends were sticking out, thus giving off odour.
    This seems like an obvious attempt at crime prevention, not science. They purposely busted these masking agents to scare would be bad guys.
    Shame on mythbusters.

  14. Drago says:

    Their efforts were very poor. Anyone else notice, how, instead of immersing the package completely into the peanut butter, they simply threw a few globs around the contraband package, but leaving the plastic baggy still exposed to the air? If they were serious scientists, they would have stuck the baggy up their arses! ;)

  15. noname says:

    One thing I never understand: on the one hand, they show how great dogs are at finding scents because their senses are so much better and because scent is not only on the ground (from the feet) but all around in the air from particles.

    But on the other hand, when a person is missing and they search through a forest where they were last seen with the search-and-rescue dogs that the Red Cross and similar train for that purpose – then in most cases the searches fail.

    How come dogs can find fugitives despite countermeasures, but not missing children or lost adults who might have head trauma? Lost people might crawl somewhere to find cover from the elements, but they would not go to such lenghts to hide their scents as criminal fugitives would.

    Is it solely a function of time that has passed – a fugitive that ran away two days ago can’t be found either?

    I realize that the MythBusters face a problem in depicting realistic methods of escaping a tracking dog because they don’t want to aid criminals – but in explosion myths, they often blurr the components to stop people from copying them. Maybe they could find a way to tell people how to aid in finding missing persons.

    • Anonymous says:

      Properly trained bloodhounds can follow trails that are weeks old. They can even follow the trail of a car at freeway speeds that a subject got into.
      They can air scent you, without following your trail, for at least a quarter of a mile. They can distinguish between newer and older trails and skip places where a subject doubled back or made a loop.
      When a bloodhound does not find someone it is likely because of handler error, improper or incomplete training, or the person is dead (the scent changed) but they will still have led the handler to the body location and the handler will need to look or dig in that area.

  16. michael says:

    hey if u run from a k9 dog but one thing say you were runing with a bike on your bake then you got on the bike and rid it will the k9 dog fine you then

    • K9 handler says:

      Try it; on my watch you’ll be tracked down and owned by 44 teeth @ 800psi. C U cry like a girl. Learn different tracking techniques before posting dumb questions.

      MythBusters is propaganda entertainment.

      • Scott says:

        Yes, let the dog bite your arm, and force your arm into his back teeth so he cannot tear your flesh as easily. Yes, it will be painful. Then, when he has a good grip on you begin to rotate your arm 90 degrees which will force the muscles in the dogs neck to rotate, forcing the dog to either let go, or go go the ground. Any human will be heavier than the dog and can then grab the dogs front legs (even if your arm is still in it’s mouth). As you sit on the dogs belly and the dog is on it’s back you can force it’s legs apart 180 degrees…left leg to the left and right leg to the right. This will crack the dog’s rib cage open and rip it’s heart in half. Animal cruelty? Well, if it will save your life, then it may need to be done. This is not advised if you are committing a crime.

  17. anon says:

    Unfortunately it would seem that this episode was heavily biased. There’s really no point in wasting an episode on stuff like this since they would be comprimised. That is not science. Even when it seemed they beat the dog they changed the circumstance to make the dog win.

  18. Jim says:

    I just watched this episode and never seen anything about icing/cooling the contraband or washing scent off of the containers that they are stored in. I would like to see the results of hiding contraband in say simple ice or even dry ice. I would also like to see the results after washing a container in simple unscented soap and water.

  19. dbe says:

    I’d love to see this bloodhound test. Run from the dog for a short distance, like 1/4 mile. Get in a car. Drive another 1/4 mile. Then get out and sit out in the open. See if the dog can find you.

    At least that way you know if he’s smelling you through the air since he can’t be smelling you along the ground.

  20. Jack black says:

    Put other k9 urine around and the dog will have a very hard time hitting on drugs. The dog may still hit on it, but if there is significant k9 urine the dog will be more interested in that.

  21. Jack black says:

    Paint fumes also work to throw off dogs I’ve seen that personally, when tracking people….dog followed person to the floor of building but could not id apartment on the floor… Because of paint fumes

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  22. Ello Ello Ello says:

    Lol at all the “I can fool any drug dog” commenters, there are prison cells in godforsaken countries waiting for all of you.

  23. Dorianin says:

    The problem with sniffer dogs is not missed contraband, but false positives. In real world situations, the dogs are unconsciously signalled by their handlers. They have a false positive rate of over 50%, with the percentage going way up when minorities are involved.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detection_dog

  24. great idea says:

    There’s only 1 method that may throw a dog off the scent. Illegal substances. But they brought a female fog around and they say the dog was distracted but they removed the female and he did his job. They only real was that has more than a 50% chance of being successful would be a female dogs (in heat) urine possibly spread around in the right way or another. You would have to experiment but they ate trained to sit when they smell the contraband so no matter how distracted they may still do their job but like I said this is one way that will have an alright success rate if done correctly some how. Mythbusters?!

  25. Yakman says:

    Just watched another repeat of this episode and noticed that when Jamie was running away after being de-scented that some of the camera shots were from a 3rd person or camera crew. Did the dog just track the camera crew instead or did they give the crew the same de-scenting treatment to take that out of the equation?

  26. Scott says:

    Of course there are ways to throw off a dog, but the TV show isn’t going to make it public knowledge, especially with the police there. The only real way is to impede the dogs sense of smell. This would temporarily impair the dogs abilities, and then viewers would start to cry “animal cruelty”. If I wanted to throw a dog off of my scent for a couple hours, I would do one of several things which could be considered animal cruelty. First, you can spread gun powder on the ground which will burn a dogs nose and take time to heal, 2nd, you can put an article of your clothing around an ammonia soaked cloth which will shut a dogs nose down for several hours, or else you can use a pesticide like Cymag or any other moisture activated form of cyanide. The TV show would never allow these things to be done to a dog, so you will never see them on the show.

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