Scenting as a sport is searching for a particular odor in an environment, like an I-Spy game for noses. The handler trains the dog to alert in various ways when it detects the scent. Scenting is commonly used by law-enforcement to locate drugs and explosives. All breeds of dog can get excited about scenting and it's a good confidence booster and low-impact sport for timid or less-athletic dogs.

Scenting is great for urban or indoor settings, the perfect rainy-season game. Scent training often starts with a several identical boxes, with one containing a favorite toy or food. The object of interest is associated with a herbal odor to teach the dog the concept of distinguishing and communicating a particular scent. The food or toy is soon phased out of the search and becomes a reward after the herbal odor is found.

In a wilderness setting, scenting involves letting the dog roam in large circles while the handler guides the search through a large swath of country, usually with the aid of a GPS. When the dog locates the object of the search, it returns to and guides the handler into the goal. The object of the search may be human remains or live people, as in Search-And-Rescue, or natural resources like mushrooms, shed antlers, rare plants or animals, etc. Search dogs need to be thoroughly proofed against chasing wildlife. 

Certification is available for a variety of scenting skills. See also Search and Rescue.

Celtic Cur K-9 of Cottonwood occasionally offers scenting classes, contact Robin Ehn


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