Around 2 years ago, I trained an English Springer Spaniel for Olivia Woosnam from OWAD Environment.  The task was to have Taz trained as a Koala detection dog. Olivia had done some dog handling previously however it was still imperative for me to train her specifically with Taz.

The progression with Taz has been phenomenal with incredible successes being recorded and the demand for Koala detection soaring. Recently Olivia requested I train Taz with an additional scent.  As Taz has been handled perfectly on Koala scent it was an easy process to train Taz on the scent of Quoll.

Olivia recently sent me an update on Taz’s progression which is quite interesting and as the original trainer, very positive feedback and a great video.

Here is Olivia’s description for the video below:

This video is a session where I worked her on Spotted-tailed Quoll in a patch where there used to be a few Koala scats (that I had put there myself and then removed approx. 6 months ago). I do not want her to indicate on the locations where Koala scats used to be: Taz already knows what Koala scent threshold requires indication, and what is residue odour that she should ignore/not indicate on.

It is an interesting video because you can clearly see her simultaneously:

(1) identify the very faint scent of Koala scat, and work out for herself that the threshold of this target scent is below her level for indication; and

(2) identify the scent of the Quoll scat, and she immediately knows that the threshold of that target scent does require indication.

I was pretty impressed that she could still so clearly identify where those Koala scats used to be, to be honest. Especially at the small Acacia tree: it was a single Koala scat that I had wedged into that tree and then removed over 6 months ago! Quite astonishing that she can still perceive that. But she had no shadow of a doubt as you can clearly see on the video: she perceives the very faint odour of Koala scat, and is obviously very clear in her head that this scent level is below the taught threshold for indication; then identifies the Quoll scat and immediately knows that this scent level does require indication.

At 5 years of age, Taz is a well seasoned and very confident detection dog.


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