Vizsla Scent Work
Credit: Play Paws Record

Fascinating fact: Dogs have a sense of smell that’s between 10,000 and 100,000 times more acute than ours!

The sport of Scent Work celebrates the joy of sniffing and asks dogs to sniff to their heart’s content, turning your dog’s favorite activity into a rewarding game. It’s a terrific sport for dogs and is a wonderful way to build confidence in a shy dog.

The handler is in control in so many sports, but this isn’t true in Scent Work. Neither the dog nor the handler knows where the target odor is hidden. The handler has to rely on the dog and follow the dog’s nose to success. In Scent Work, it’s the canine that’s the star of the show.

The sport of Scent Work is based on the work of professional detection dogs (such as drug dogs) employed by humans to detect a wide variety of scents and substances. In AKC Scent Work, dogs search for cotton swabs saturated with the essential oils of birch, anise, clove, and cypress. The cotton swabs are hidden out of sight in a predetermined search area, and the dog has to find them. Teamwork is necessary: When the dog finds the scent, he or she must communicate the find to the handler, who calls it out to the judge.

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