Ok I saw this thing on a documentary the other night where they were showing off a dog’s ability to find something via smell. They dropped a container of something (I don’t think they said what, but it’s obviously something with a strong smell) to the bottom of a lake around 20 feet deep, which then was buried under a few feet of mud/dirt. They marked the location with GPS.
Then they took the dog out on a boat and rode around the surface of the lake in a grid pattern. Seemed like a good size lake. The dog was filmed at the front of the boat sniffing the air. I think they said something about there being wind on the lake (I’m sure there was some). Eventually the dog barked and they circled in to a certain location and sure enough, the GPS indicated it was the correct spot. A diver went down and picked up the canister from the lake bottom, under the dirt. Score one for the dog.
I know dogs have amazing senses of smell, and I’ve seen dogs do impressive things with that ability, but this just doesn’t seem possible. It wasn’t clear whether or not the people driving the boat knew where the canister was placed before they left, however they were able to see the correct location on the GPS screen. So I was thinking this could have been due to the “Clever Hans” effect. The dog was watching the people for a sign of when the boat was at the right location, and he then barked to signal the correct spot.
However, they did briefly film the dog leaning forward at the front of the boat looking and sniffing out front, not looking at the humans driving the boat behind him.
Realistically, how many molecules of whatever was in that sealed canister can make it out the canister, up through a few feet of mud and 20 feet of water, and then make it into a dog’s nose at the surface of a big, windy lake? I’d say the chances even one molecule made it into the dog’s nose would be pretty slim.
Am I right for calling bs on this, or are dogs ability to smell things even that much better than I can conceive?