After training her dog with me for a number of months, Kristin Lindell contacted me in the summer of 2019 and said that she had an idea.
Her idea was to test whether it was possible to train dogs to search for eggs from Spanish slug (Arion vulgaris). Micke immediately became very curious and started plan the training for a snail detection dog.. Kristin's training friends Marie Koenen, Maria Laurin and Evalena Blücher of course wanted to join. We also contacted Lennart Wetterholm at Hundcampus for help, tips and ideas.
All four in the project group then took the 1-year course in scentdetection at Hundcampus in Hällefors where they learned the basics of scentdetection and in parallel perform tests and exercises to train a snail dog. Micke Steinert, who is also a teacher on the training at Hundcampus and Lennart Wetterholm, has had many and long discussions and done tests on there own dogs to find the most effective way to train a snail detection dog.
For about a year, the group has trained, tested and evaluated various types of systematic ways to train surface search and in August 2020 we had a press screening with very good results.
During the autumn and winter, Micke Steinert and Lennart Wetterholm have continued with the project to be able to train dogs that are detecting Spaninsh Slug in a more efficient and safe way. Soon dogs will be trained at Hundcampus in Hällefors to be able to work with high quality and accuracy.
Spanish forest snail (Arion vulgaris) or killer snail as it is also called was first observed in Sweden in 1975. Since then, it has multiplied and spread so that it is now found in almost all of Sweden. It has been found as far up as Vilhelmina.
By the dog searching and finding eggs from Spanish Slug, you can reduce the population in an area significantly without pesticides or nematodes. The dogs can help at nurseries, farms, sensitive parks and private gardens.
The dogs must be able to search a surface and mark finds of eggs from Spanish Slug so that the doghandler can mark out the site for further decontamination. The dogs must also be able to indicate eggs that are buried underground.
In tests we have done, the dogs can feel the difference between eggs from the Spanish Slug and our native species Black Forest Snail (Arion ater). These species are so closely related that they can mate with each other which then becomes a hybrid.