Black Keys, TOOL, Metallica & more use dogs to sniff out COVID on tour

Publish Date
Monday, 10 January 2022, 2:56PM
Getty Images

Getty Images

In the midst of another COVID-19 surge, musicians are finding a way to help ensure that their tours don't stop prematurely due to exposure. As Rolling Stone reports, Tool, The Black Keys, Eric Church and Metallica have all recruited specially trained dogs to sniff out the virus.

The keen-nosed canines, which include German Shepherds, Belgian Malinoises and Labrador retrievers, are trained to sit if they detect COVID and roam around backstage to make sure crew members and entourage aren't unknowingly spreading the disease.

“So far, knock on wood, the dogs have been knocking it out of the park,” said John Peets of Q Prime, the management company that represents Church and Metallica. “We haven’t had a dog miss anybody.”

Metallica hired the dogs for fall concerts in Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta and also at their 40th anniversary shows in San Francisco last month. Tool plans to use a team when they head out on tour next week.

The 12 dogs currently in service — with seven or eight more in training — are overseen by Bio-Detection K9. It takes about six weeks of training for the canines to learn to sniff people's hands and feet and sit if they detect the virus.

“People say, ‘What’s that dog doing?'” Bio-Detection K9 president Jerry Johnson told Rolling Stone. “It surprises them and they’re pessimistic, but if you understand the instincts of a dog’s behavior, it makes a lot of sense. Dogs sniff each other to see if that other dog has a virus. We’re training them to look for something they’d be interested in anyway.”

On Church's upcoming tour, the dogs will sniff masks instead of appendages, due to the Omicron variant. “The new variation is different,” Johnson explained. “It localizes in the bronchial passageways. So the dogs weren’t nearly as accurate the way we had been searching. We had to change it up.”

The only drawback is musicians aren't able to get too close to the pooches. “They don’t like the dogs to get too friendly with people,” Peets said, “because it throws them off their game. These guys are in high demand.”

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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