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Nose Work, Scent Work, Scent Detection? What is the difference?

Updated: Nov 27, 2021

Our classes have recently opened up for registration, and one that we offer is Scentwork. Our instructor Jeannette Hargreaves has written this informative piece on what it consists of. So if you have an interest or questions, read on .......


"What is Scentwork?


IS Nose Work, Scent Work and Scent Detection the same thing? The answer is yes. It's no longer just a job for working dogs but ANY dog can learn to love this 'game'. It is a dog sport that mimics professional detection dog tasks. The dog has to find a hidden target odor and alert the handler, sometimes having to ignore distractors. The sport is for any dog - puppy to senior, big or small, purebred or not, couch potato or retired from other dog sports. It is a good way to build confidence or to channel the energy of a busy dog. It's a great way to stimulate the dog's mind by allowing them to 'be a dog'. It is also a nice way to build a better bond with one's dog.


Our first goal is to build the dog's drive for the game. The owner allows the dog to do what comes naturally to them- to use their nose to find something. The owner rewards the dog every time the dog finds the target odor and before you know it your dog is crazy about this game! We introduce the dog to containers at the first class and encourage the owners to get their dog excited for finding treats in one or two of the containers. Most dogs quickly discover that containers represent Rewards!


At the end of the first class we send the owner home with a tin containing Wintergreen essential oil. At home the owner can introduce the dog to this new scent AND to teach the dog to keep their nose "at the source". It's much easier down the road if the dog can give you a solid indication to tell YOU exactly where the scent is. In case you have a superstar and you like the idea of competition we start you off in that direction. Most dogs love the game. Each week we add little challenges to the game as we want to set your dog up for success.


It is great fun to learn from our dogs in a sport that makes us read our partners in a totally new way! "Trust Your Dog because the Nose Knows".


Our instructors & their dogs have competed in and earned titles in both CKC and SDDA Scent Detection competitions in the province. We have a little group of Scenters that practice regularly & played in a league last winter. Our club has held our own competitions here in Saskatoon and have offered Scentwork classes since 2015 when the sport was just taking off. We often have an Intro to Scentwork class & Novice SW classes - Sign up today!"

by Jeannette Hargreaves