Scent Detection and Nosework

Scent Detection and Nosework

We all know that dogs have a great nose, that’s why working dogs are employed around the globe using those noses to detect everything from explosives and wildlife sign to bed bugs and COVID-19.

The sport of Scent Detection and Nosework is a recreational version designed to allow non-working dogs to enjoy the challenge of locating a scent and communicating with their handler that the scent has been located.

While there are some recreational scentwork trials that allow non-working AND working dogs, for more about working dogs, please go to the Working Dog Division page on this site.

In competitive nosework, the handler must trust their dog’s nose to detect a particular scent, which the dog has been trained to recognize, and then follow the trail of that scent – always on a leash, unless instructed otherwise by the judge – to the origin. The scents, which are utilized in CKC Scent Detection trials are wintergreen, pine, anise, birch, clove, and cyprus; one drop of scented oil is placed on a cotton swab and then hidden out of sight. It is up to the dog to find the scent within a specified search area and ultimately to communicate to the handler that the source has been found.

There are five classes, starting with the entry-level “instinct” class, and in ascending order the novice, open, excellent, and master classes. Each class tests the dog’s ability at a new, more challenging level, encouraging greater perseverance and focus on fine-tuning of olfactory senses. The scent source may be within a container located in the interior of a building, or exterior – the great outdoors!

Dogs are divided into height divisions within the classes based on the height indicated on the entry form. Titles are awarded when the dog acquires the required number of qualifying scores within the class entered.

How to Get Started

We recommend taking the following steps:

  • Most importantly, have fun!