Scent Work


PURPOSE AND OVERVIEW Section 1. Purpose. AKC Scent Work is a sport that mimics the task of working detection dogs to locate a scent and communicate to the handler that the scent has been found. Detection is done in a variety of environments and often during changing conditions. Scent Work is a positive, challenging activity that allows dogs the opportunity to use their strongest natural sense in a way that is fun, engaging, and that builds and strengthens a foundation of trust between the handler and dog. In order for a team to qualify, both the dog and handler must be working together and able to read each other’s reactions. Communication and praise of the dog during the search are encouraged. AKC Scent Work events provide a fun and safe team activity that is open to all dogs and their owners. Section 2. Overview. In the sport of Scent Work, dogs are trained to recognize specific odors, and to alert their handlers when the odors are detected. Dogs may paw, bark, point with their nose or body, sit, lie down, or use any other behavior to communicate the location of the odor. In AKC Scent Work trials, dogs are taken through a search area with their human team member (“handler”). The dog is the star of the Scent Work trial—the handler remains mostly passive, guiding the dog’s search only when necessary and letting the judge know when the dog has found the scent. Dogs complete these searches in a variety of environments, known as “elements.” In the “Odor Search Division,” the elements are 1) Container, 2) Interior, 3) Exterior, and 4) Buried. In the Container element the target odor is concealed within a container (such as a cardboard box or briefcase), and the dog must indicate in which container the scent is hidden. In the Interior element, the target odor is concealed on or in an object in an indoor search area. In the Exterior element, the target odor is concealed on or in an object in an outdoor search area (this requires the dog to locate the scent despite changing airflow patterns, weather conditions, and natural distractions). In the Buried element, the target odor is concealed within a small container and then buried underneath the ground.


AKC Scent Work Regulations