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  • Jemma Milne

Scentwork For Dogs

Updated: Jul 10


How to do Scent work with your dog

I feel in love with scentwork when I got Luna, my beagle. With one of the best noses in the world, it felt wrong for me not to give her lots of opportunities to use it. I strongly believe that because I have provided her with plenty of outlets to use her nose she has never been a beagle to get lost in a smell on walks, I may be wrong but I'm sure scentwork has helped this.

So What is Scentwork?

Scentwork is when a dog is given the task to use their nose to locate a scent that they have been trained to detect.

Why Should You Do Scentwork With Your Dog?

Scentwork has so many benefits, I could talk to you all day about why it's a good thing to do with your dog.

  • The dog is the leader in the team when it comes to scentwork, meaning as a handler you have to trust your dog to take you to the 'Find', the target odour. This is not on hugely confidence building but it gives your dog a real opportunity to problem solve and focus.

  • You can do scentwork anywhere, you aren't just limited to your front room. Maybe you have a dog who struggles to focus in the park then take scentwork with you and give your dog a job of locating the hide and I am sure you'll see their focus grow.

  • Scentwork improves your bond and communication, as a handler, you must be watching your dog and looking closely at their body language to be able to notice the changes when they are getting closer to the target odour.

  • Scentwork is fun and addictive.

  • It is a great way to satisfy and tire your dog out, as sniffing and problem-solving is exhausting, which makes this perfect for those bad weather days when you may do a shorter walk.

  • Scentwork can be a good way to introduce dogs to new environments or situations, if they are on a job and problem solving then they won't feel worried. Disclaimer your dog must enjoy scentwork, to begin with, and have had lots of practice in a safe and comfortable place.

The Dogs Nose And How It Works?

Depending on the breed, a dogs sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times better than our own.

Dogs inhale through their nostrils and exhale through the slits at the side of their nose, which helps them to avoid pushing out any important scent. They can move and use each nostril independently and can tell which nostril the scent reached first, this allows them to locate the direction that the smell is coming from. When the dog breaths in, the airflow is split between two paths, one for breathing and one for olfaction, smelling.

The olfactory epithelium of a dog covers 150 square centimetres (23.3 square inches) and can contain 300 million scent receptors depending on the breed, compared to just 5 or 6 million in a human. Information from the olfactory epithelium is processed in the brain by the olfactory bulb. Relative to body size, a dog’s olfactory bulb is around 40-times larger than ours.


So all in all the dog's nose is truly amazing and the kindest thing that you can do for your dog is allow them to use it and have fun in doing so.

If you'd like more information on how to get started with scentwork then please get in touch.

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