Scent Detection Training

Scent detection training has long been used widely across the world, for working and operational services.

Our dogs have been used to search for drugs, bombs, firearms, cash, contraband, missing people & human remains. 

In recent years, a larger number of dogs are being used for assistance purposes such as medical alert (diabeties), medical detection (detecting cancer cells in humans….. WOW!) and as support dogs detecting emotional changes in their owners.  

As pet dog owners, we can tap into the huge capabilities of our dogs noses in easy scentwork exercises that we can do both at home and outside.

Moreover, scentwork is HUGELY enjoyable for our dogs, not only using a lot of brain power but also improves behaviour.

Did you know that around 10 minutes of mental stimulation for our dogs is as good as an hour’s walk?

What is Scentwork

Scentwork training uses the dog’s sense of smell to identify and locate a scent which it has been trained to detect. Olfaction (the sense of smell) is a natural behaviour which is essential to the health and wellbeing of dogs used in behaviours such as hunting and finding prey. 

It has been developed into a popular dog sport derived from professional detection style nosework practised by law enforcement, customs and excise, explosives detection, search and rescue and medical detection dogs. It strengthens a foundation of trust between the handler and dog, increases confidence, builds optimism, enhances the enjoyment of learning and can be done at all ability levels. 

Practising scentwork allows dogs to express natural behaviour and easily improves the dog’s ability to work independently building autonomy. Using positive reinforcement right from the start of your scentwork journey moulds neurone plasticity and builds a dog’s emotions towards finding scents. It activates the release of dopamine as you trigger part of the dog’s natural predatory motor pattern which your dog will find hugely rewarding! 


The extraordinary olfactory capability of the dog has long been used by humans for scent identification and discrimination. The dog’s capacity for scent detection has been reported to be as much as 10,000–100,000 times that of the average human. Scentwork is a rewarding occupation with a very special feel-good factor. Here we learn to harness this extraordinary ability by giving detailed practical instruction to our clients. We start by teaching scent identification and discrimination through to full scale searches. We emphasise positive reinforcement while scent training, use fun scent game and give plenty of essential training tips along your scent training journey.   


Establishing the concept

Scent discrimination is one of the “advanced” obedience exercises, but it is actually one of the easiest to train. It’s important to remember that when teaching scent discrimination, we are not teaching the dog to scent; that comes naturally to all dogs! We are teaching which scent to choose over others and what to do with the scent discrimination once they have located it.

We use classical conditioning to give the dog a ‘choice’ to indicate on the correct scent and once the ‘right choice’ has been made, the dog is rewarded. The dog then learns that good things happen when they find this scent and once this is established over time, the dog gets more and more enthusiastic to find it. To watch dogs this happy really is a joy for both trainer and handler.

Our head trainer is an accredited Bronze and Silver level Instructor with UK Sniffer Dogs and has completed additional scent courses with Absolute Dogs and the School of Canine Science. Scentwork has a phenomenal benefit to dogs and activates the release of dopamine which is invaluable in the wellbeing of all dogs. Elite Scentwork is lucky to have a retired Police dog handler as our assistant trainer who brings a huge wealth of knowledge from active frontline police duties. 

Think police sniffer dog training for pet dogs

Come and join The Confident K9 team for hours of fun with your dog whilst building up an incredible bond. Your partnership and teamwork will blossom whilst your dog puts its nose to good work. It is a low impact sport so suitable for all dogs and handlers whilst doing mental stimulation and brainwork for the dogs. 

Reactive dog or fearful dog? Dog with behavioural issues such as excessive barking or hyperactivity? No problem! We run special classes and one to one Elite Scentwork courses for reactive dogs. We like to make it a sport for everyone.  Please get in touch with your specific needs. 

If you are looking for something different and FUN to do with your dog then this is for you! You will be able to also teach your dog to find your ???? keys ????. 

Any ability can join as we start from beginners to professionals and our classes are assisted by a retired police dog handler so you get all the facts and real life stories of scent work used professionally by the police. 

You will be learning about the power of your dog’s nose and how to teach it to search and indicate on a target odour. It’s fun and easy! We then move onto:

– Bag searches

– Building searches

– Vehicle searches 

-And more!

We work up through the training levels and we set up scenarios at various outdoor and indoor locations which adds a variety of training challenges for you and your dog. 

Be warned….this sport is HIGHLY addictive! When you see how much fun your dog is having you won’t want to stop!