RDO Day: AKC Scent Work


A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times better than a human’s. Scent Work capitalizes on this skill and allows both dog and handler to have fun by using this innate nature of dogs. Along with having a good time, this rewarding game can take shape confidence in shy dogs and lets your dog companions do the things they're doing best.

Scent Jobs are based off the work of professional detection dogs (like drug dogs); however, instead of seeking out drugs, dogs are looking for hidden cotton swabs saturated with essential oils like Birch, Anise, Close, and Cypress. As opposed to other canine sports where the handler knows what's to become done, in Scent Work neither your dog nor the handler know in which the scent is hidden. Additionally, handlers aren't allowed to issue commands, signals, or instructions. Dogs rely solely on their own nose to call the shots and lead both dog and handler to success!

The swabs are hidden in a number of environments or “elements”. There are four amounts of difficulty in which titles could be earned at each element.

The four elements include:

  • Container: The dog determines which box or bag includes a scent.
  • Interior: The dog finds the scent inside a regular indoor setting.
  • Exterior: Your dog sniffs out swabs within an everyday outdoor space.
  • Buried: Judges bury the scent underground and also the dog indicates where.

Scent Work also has another class option in which the target scent may be the handler’s smell, instead of an essential oil. Handlers usually use a different command once the dog is trying to find the handler’s scent, such as “find me!”

All dogs (purebred and mixed breeds) can take part in Scent Work, provided they are -registered, enrolled with Canine Partners, listed in the Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) program or recorded within the Foundation Stock Service (FSS) program.

Learn about another fun sport to do with your dog and browse our Trick Dog blog!