Scent Work for Dogs
Dogs are natural sniffers, so naturally any dog can become a Sniffer Dog!
Scent Work has become increasingly popular over the past few years, in large part due to it's accessibility for all dogs and owners. You and your dog don't have to be in top physical shape and it's an ideal 'sport' for older dogs or those with mobility issues. It also has numerous calming benefits so is brilliant positive bonding time for reactive dogs and their owners.
Scent Work harnesses your dog's natural abilities and teaches them to use their incredible sense of smell to find a particular item. We use scent work just for fun as a great bonding activity for dogs and their owners, providing physical and mental stimulation for both. The training involved in scent work is built on the exact same principles as training for Search and Rescue, Medical Detection Dogs, and Police & Military dogs. It is an ideal activity for working breeds who are easily bored or highly energetic as well as reactive dogs who struggle in overstimulating environments, or senior dogs who no longer have the ability to explore the distances they once could.
A dog's nose has between 220 - 300 million olfactory receptors (compared to our lowly 6 million!). They also have the incredible ability to separate scents and distinguish individual components within different items; whereas we can smell perfume, they can smell the alcohol, the individual oils and the various chemicals that constitute 'perfume'. We have taken this incredible natural ability and put it to work to identify cancer, drugs, explosive devices and missing persons. More importantly however, is that dogs love to use their noses. Research published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science (2019) has shown that dogs are more optimistic and more confident exploring unknown stimuli after just two weeks of scent work training, compared in the study with two weeks of heelwork (Duranton & Horowitz, Let me sniff! Nosework induces positive judgement bias in pet dogs). This makes it the perfect activity for nervous or reactive dogs who need a confidence boost and some positivity in the vicinity of unknown dogs and people.
Scent work is an easy activity for dogs and owners to practice at home. It doesn't require expensive equipment or large spaces and can be easily practiced using objects already in your house or garden. It's the perfect activity for a rainy day, and short sessions can tire out even the most energetic dogs. It's also excellent for building trust between dogs and their owners, as the humans learn that the dog is (almost) always right!