Although I was a bit of a stubborn teenager, I now have a great relationship with my parents. I like to think it's because my mom and dad were able to switch up their parenting style and gave me the right amount of emotional support and trust when I needed it most.
Teens want their privacy, and while every parent should try to know what their child is up to, if they’re not careful, they can easily come across as overprotective or overbearing.
For some desperate parents, looking through their kid’s phone or reading their emails are no longer enough, so to find out what they’re teens are getting up to, they are literally using trained dogs to snoop around their children’s rooms.
Parents who suspect that their child is hiding drugs have been turning to companies that will send drug-sniffing dogs to raid the room and help them potentially lose their teen’s trust for only $99.
Although this craze is starting to take off now, it’s not exactly new.
In 2016, the Courier-Journal reported that a Louisville, Kentucky father named James hired Last Chance K9 to search his 14-year-old daughter’s room after he smelled an odor.
“I’m not a snooping parent,” he told the Courier-Journal. “I want my daughter to be able to trust me, but I gotta protect her. I know girls can be sneaky and hide things in places I wouldn’t even think of.”
The dog helped James find a glass pipe filled with marijuana stashed in his daughter’s makeup stand. After a conversation with his daughter, who remains unnamed, she admitted that the paraphernalia was hers.
It was later destroyed, and according to the concerned father, the experience strengthened their relationship.
James isn’t the only parent who has paid for a service like Last Chance K9.
Owner Michael Davis has searched dozens of homes, and his dogs find illegal substances in nine out of 10 of the homes and cars. Heroin is the most common drug they find.
Davis says he isn’t surprised because the use of such drugs have skyrocketed in the recent years not only in Kentucky, but all over the nation. This is why there is such a high demand for services like his.
In Kansas, Ray McCarty’s Metro K-9 Services is offering concerned parents a chance to confirm whether or not their suspicions are correct.
“Metro K9 Drug Detection Services provide a confidential and discreet drug detection service for your home. Our narcotic detection dogs will professionally perform a thorough inspection of your entire property and vehicles," reads the description on the company's website.
"We recommend searching the premises when the suspected drug user is not present to avoid possible conflicts with the animal. This can also reduce family stress. If the dog picks up a scent, it will alert our handler, who will mark the location. The client can then decide how to handle the discovery."
Some parents aren’t concerned about losing their child’s trust, but there are some, like Ted Overman, who are worried about strained relationships with their children.
“What about the trust in your kid after that? Would your kid trust you again?” asked Overman, a father of four teens.
Despite the concerns, McCarty says that parents do “feel better” after using his services, and to avoid a rife between them and their teens, many call for him when the kids aren’t home.
If anything is found in the room, it is usually flushed and the cops aren’t involved. Some parents won’t even bring it up to their child.
“It makes them feel better. We aren’t going to say anything because its none of our business. We are just there to do a job. We do it, and we leave,” said McCarty.
Davis, on the other hand, thinks that this isn’t right for every household.
“We had a lot of parents who said, ‘I don’t know what my child is doing, but I remember what I was doing at that age. Would you go through my child’s room just so I could have security?'” Davis told The Washington Post.
He continued, “We’ve done a lot of those homes and many came up with drugs and the parents were shocked. Other times, we didn’t find drugs and then we encouraged the parents to give their kids positive reinforcement.”
While Davis also does not report his findings to the police, he offers parents the option to allow him to “scare teenagers straight” if drugs turn up during the search.
“The canine is intimidating to a child,” he explains. “When the child sees the dog it has a jaw-dropping drop effect. They think, ‘Oh wait, now there’s a company my mom or dad can call that brings a dog into this home anytime they think I may have drugs?’ Next time, they’ll think twice.”
However, not everyone agrees with this approach. Lawrence Balter, a professor of applied psychology at New York University and the author of a multiple parenting books, says using canine services is a form of surveillance that has the potential to ruin the relationship between parents and their teens.
“Teenagers will only just become more secretive if they feel like they’re being spied on. If parents act like police, I think kids just become more deceptive and sneaky.”
Balter says that a drug-sniffing dog can be useful in extreme cases, like when a teen is already on probation, otherwise having a conversation is the best approach.
“They should not promote abusing substances and they should be open about discussing their children’s participation in those kinds of activities,” Balter said. “You should be an ally, not a military state.”
Davis still believes that his service is effective because instead of allowing a drug problem to worsen, parents are intervening early on so.
“We want community to know that we’re a tool for parents,” he said. “This is where we can defeat the war on drugs, right here at your kitchen table — instead of in a courtroom with a lawyer.”
Davis and McCarty’s services aren’t just limited to homes. They’re often hired by schools, offices, and other shared spaces.
McCarty is currently training his canines to also sniff out weapons in schools and other public places.
Do you think parents should hire drug-sniffing dogs to raid their children's rooms? Share your thoughts in the comments!