Ever been in line at the airport and see a dog wearing a vest, sniffing the carry-ons? Or maybe you’ve seen a search and rescue team on TV with canines searching for a missing person.
The working dogs that you see have been specifically trained to locate certain odors—contraband, illegal substances like narcotics and/or explosives, or even human scents (living skin cells or decomposed remains).
Our pet dogs can also perform the same tasks—the same type of scent activities as professional working dogs.
All dogs have the capacity to use their noses. Eyesight may fail, hearing may diminish, but the nose always knows! Dogs use their noses every day, the same way we use our eyes. They experience their world with their noses. We just teach dogs what to find and how to tell us about (communicate) that find.
Scent work classes are loads of fun! Dogs learn challenging puzzle games, and they improve their problem-solving skills.
In scent detection classes, dogs are taught multiple “elements”—an element is a type of search. These searches mimic a variety of professional working dog jobs. Types of searches include containers (TSA); vehicles (border patrol); buried (cadaver); interior and exterior (narcotics and explosives); and handler discrimination (your scent).
Scent work has many benefits and is easy to do. Benefits include:
• Helps build confidence and environmental resilience
• Any dog can participate (any age/any breed)
• No expensive or bulky equipment
• Uses only positive reinforcement techniques
• Helps you bond with your dog
• And, most important—it’s fun!
This article originally appeared in Pet Companion Magazine, Winter 2019. To read the full article, click this link: [https://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=548913&ver=html5&p=54]