Bio-Sensor is Bad Science: True Biosensor

This is what real biosensor looks like.

In the first Bio-Sensor is Bad Science post, I documented how the messenger, Carmen Battaglia, trips numerous red flags for scientific quackery.  In this post I’ll introduce you to true biosensor training and establish that there is no solid link between real biosensor and the Battaglia protocol.

Let’s start with the name: Ph.D. Battaglia calls his protocol “Bio-Sensor,” separating the words and perhaps implying that the biosensor name refers to the protocol and sort of reinforcing ‘biology’ and ‘senses’ given that his protocol is to stimulate the senses and improve the biology of the puppies.

Living organisms, which are the best detectors of other life forms, are referred to as biosensors. The dog is the most common and familiar biosensor, although geese, guinea hens, and marine mammals such as the bottle-nosed dolphin are also excellent examples of biosensors. Due to the rapid emergence of technology, the dog’s usefulness in war was due to his detection capabilities. The greatest fear of the famous Soviet Spetsnaz is the enemy’s dogs.

Biosensors are Military Working Dogs that are trained to perform specialized tasks relating to law enforcement or physical security operations including scout, sentry, patrol, tracker, narcotic, contraband, explosives, and tunnel dogs. During World War II, the U.S. military evaluated numerous species of animals as biosensores. The most effective mine detectors were determined to be pigs, coyotes, cats, raccoons, skunks, deer, ferrets, and dogs. The pig clearly out-performed all of the species examined, but the dog was chosen due to more apparent practical utility.

A Centralized Source of Information for the Military Working Dog Program
Denzil Frost, MAJ, DVM

The word biosensor has nothing to do with the Battaglia protocol or any sort of neurological stimulation.

This is not true biosensor. This is tickling.

The word is a term of art used by the military and others that signifies a biological tool that can identify a chemical signature/obscured object of interest such as an explosive, a landmine, enemy ordinance, enemy equipment, personnel, traces of drugs or other contraband.  Examples include:  antibodies, enzymes, nucleic acids, bacteria, pigs dogs, dolphins, rats, mice, or even organic reactive molecules. So, if you’re not training your dog to identify chemical signatures, you’re not doing biosensor.

Notice how none of the Battaglia protocols deal with the dog’s sense of smell (their primary asset in biosensor), nor are the dogs at an appropriate age in the Battaglia protocol to hone these skills.   There is no evidence that tilting a puppy, tickling its feet, or getting it mildly cold will in any way improve its later performance at scent discrimination and tracking (or anything else).  There have been numerous biosensor and military working dog programs and the majority of biosensor applications featuring dogs utilizes their sense of smell and their protection/aggression behaviors, neither of which is stimulated in the Battaglia protocol. All of the exercises focus on the sense of touch, temperature, and balance;  not sound, sight, taste, or smell.

The truth is that there were several different biosensor programs run by various branches of the military and private contractors, and there even was one program that was billed as “Super Dog,” and that program did seek to create wunderhunden.  But none of the programs used the Battaglia protocol or anything close and the Super Dog program was not successful in creating the amazing dogs they claimed they could in the propoganda they put out.

Battaglia’s Claims The Truth
The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method that still serves as a guide to what works. The U.S. Military’s biosensor did not work, it does not serve as a guide for what works for anyone.
In an effort to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes, a program called “Bio Sensor” was developed. “Biosensor” is a military term of art, it existed before and after the specific “biosensor” program. The program started as a means to breed hip dysplasia out of German Shepherd Dogs.
Later, it became known to the public as the “Super Dog” Program. One of several biosensor programs was later billed as “Super Dog” as propoganda and mission creep of one scientist. This program failed to produce any super dogs.
Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. No published research was consulted nor produced during the “super dog” program. The military made no findings about “early neurological stimulation exercises” and they found no positive lasting effects.
Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. The U.S. Military did not investigate nor confirm anything regarding “specific time periods” and they certainly did not find 3-16 days to be optimal or even critical, nor did they find such a specific frame to be in any way effective at all.
It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual. The Military neither investigated nor published nor referenced any study which confirms this.
The “Bio Sensor” program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. The words “Early Neurological Stimulation” never appear in any documented account of any of the biosensor programs.
Its development utilized six exercises which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference, the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:

1. Tactical stimulation (between toes)2. Head held erect

3. Head pointed down

4. Supine position

5. Thermal stimulation.

The military did not design the protocol to stimulate the neurological system, they were actually copying Russian propaganda from the space race where Russian scientists claimed to have put future muttniks into freezers and centrifuges to acclimatize them to the stresses of space, orbit, and zero gravity.

1. The military never tickled a puppies toes (certainly not for 3-5 seconds with a Qtip)

2. The military never held the puppies in these positions for 3-5 seconds. They placed them in a centrifuge moving at 45 rpm for 3 minutes a day.

3. The military did not place the puppies on cold damp towels, they put them in a freezer. Among other stimulation observations, they also bombarded them with various noises and took them from darkness into bright light, etc.

4. They also failed to find any positive benefit from any of these exercises and never published a single paper on the effort before being shut down with prejudice.

There doesn’t seem to have been any contact between the actual military personnel who ran the Super Dog program and Battaglia. He certainly doesn’t cite a single one of them in his bibliography nor does he cite any published articles which back up his protocol.  None of the heads of the program recall ever talking with him either and not one of them supports his protocol.

What Carmen Battaglia is selling is NOT a biosensor program and his protocol isn’t tested or sanctioned or even informed by any science, certainly not the science done by the US Military.

In the next installment, I’ll introduce you to what is publicly known about the Super Dog program including the original propaganda puff piece on the project, a post-mortem on its failure, and some quotes from the actual people behind the program speaking to Battaglia’s protocol.

All posts in this series:
Bio-Sensor is Bad Science: Quackery

Bio-Sensor is Bad Science: True Biosensor

Bad Science: Superdogs Are Made, Not Born

Bio-Sensor is Bad Science: The Failure of Super Dog

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.