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                         What is Nosework/Scentwork

In Nose Work, also known as Scent Work, dogs are trained to find specific “target odors” in a variety of search scenarios. The dogs use their noses to search for these targets.  This great new sport allows our pet dogs to work like the professional detection canines.  It's what they were born to do!

Nose Work was created by a group of former professional K9 handlers who began scent work training shelter dogs as a way of providing mental enrichment. When the shelter volunteers saw how much fun the dogs were having, the sport of Nose Work was born.

Nose work is probably one of the best activities you can do with your dog. It allows your dog to use their most highly developed sense, lets them do something that comes naturally to them and tires them out both mentally and physically. 

Benefits of Nosework

  • Low impact exercise.  Great for our Senior dogs or physically challenged dogs

  • Mentally exhausting.  Great for those high drive dogs that you have trouble wearing out!  One 15 min nosework session is equivalent to a 4 mile hike

  • No expensive equipment necessary, just you and your dog required.

  • Confidence Builder: Using your dog’s natural abilities to build confidence helps them work through fears, dog reactivity, and anxiety when combined with behavior modification programs.  Which makes this a great activity for rescue and shelter dogs.  The intermediate dog featured in the video was literally afraid to enter my building 6 months ago.  He has come so far!

What happens at a Scent work Competition

There are several “Elements” or search scenarios that dogs search to find the target odors. NACSW elements are Containers, Interiors, Vehicles and Exteriors. 


AKC includes Buried elements and water elements.  Each element has a time limit for the dog to find a specific number of hides.


Timing starts when the dog crosses the start line. Handlers indicate that their dog has found the hide by calling “Alert.” Time stops when all the hides are found, or when the handler calls finished in the upper levels.  

As you progress through the levels, they raise the challenge by adding more hides, increasing hide height and expanding search area size.

One very different aspect of Scent Work is that the dog ALWAYS gets paid when they find the hide. Even in competition, your dog gets their reward!

Scent Work Competition Venues

Check out these venues for scent work competitions.  We train primarily for NACSW.  K9 Scent games is a new venue created by a fellow CNWI Rosanna Dropkin, it's a great Venue as well and uses the same scent concentration as NASCW.  If you are interested in AKC, we can help with that as well.  

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