Course Start Dates / Times

The start dates will be advertised on the website and in the club’s newsletter.

The classes are held on Sunday mornings from 10.45 a.m. to 11.45 a.m. First week please arrive 15 minutes early to complete enrolment.

Course Description

The club offers two Scent Work courses.

Introductory Scent Work Course – 6 weeks.

Intermediate Scent Work Course – 4 weeks.

To register for these courses, please contact the club by email.

Scent Work is a sport that is based on the task of working detection dogs to locate an odour and communicate to the handler that the odour has been found.  Detection is done in a variety of environments and often during changing weather or environmental 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 builds and strengthens a foundation of trust between the handler and dog.  Dogs are trained to recognise specific odours – birch, anise, cloves and cypress – and to alert their handlers when the odours are detected.

The dog and handler must work together as a team.  The handler is part of the team, using body language and verbal encouragement to ensure all sections of the search area are covered, directing the dog’s search only when necessary.  The handler indicates verbally when the dog has found the odour.  Communication with, and praise of, the dog during the search are encouraged.

Introductory Scent Work Course

These classes introduce the concept of the game, build handler observation skills and timing, and get the dog focused.

Throughout the Introductory classes, the primary focus will be on providing scent puzzles for the dog with the use of boxes.  Boxes act as a cue for the dog that the ‘game is on’.  It’s a simple and effective way to build confidence and the drive to hunt.  Our aim is to give control to the dog, and to let the dog think independently.

The first class is primarily an evaluation class and teaches the overall game.

The remaining classes work on building foundation skills to help a handler read their dog and to build the dog’s intensity for the hunting game.  We start Scent Work classes with just food rather than odour as most dogs will quickly build the hunting drive for food.  This way, when odour is introduced, the dog’s desire to play the game is very strong and the handler has established good teamwork with their dog.

Equipment and lead handling, which is a very important part of training, will be explained during the course.

Weeks 1 and 2 the food is easily accessible to the dog, and self-rewarding as the dog can eat the food as soon as it is found.  As the course progresses the searches gradually increase in difficulty, the food is no longer freely available and the dog must wait to be rewarded by the handler.  The final two weeks the handler and dog will learn and experience two elements of Scent Work – a simple interior search and a simple exterior search.

Intermediate Scent Work Course

The intermediate course is available for dogs/handlers who have completed the Introductory course.

This course

  • builds on the skills achieved in the introductory course
  • introduces the birch odour by ‘pairing’ – i.e.  setting out the hide with food and a birch odour tip combined
  • works towards the dog doing simple birch odour only searches
  • introduce all four search elements – Interior, Exterior, Vehicle and Container
  • explaining the handling of odours and placement of hides when training

Week 1 – each handler/dog will be assessed to see what skill level they have achieved.  All searches will use paired food/birch hides.

Then will cover:

  • container (box) search and introducing other items – chair, hose-reel, ladder, tarpaulin – so the dog starts to learn that the hide is not always in a box
  • equipment and lead handling
  • rewarding the dog correctly
  • explaining thresholds
  • how to encourage the dog to cover the whole search area

Week 2 – once again using paired food/birch odour hides

  • Explaining and teaching threshold hides
  • lead handling training
  • exterior search

Week 3 – using paired food/birch hides and introducing birch odour only hide

  • work on dog’s search technique
  • work on handler’s lead handling
  • interior search

Week 4 – using birch odour only hide

  • hides will be very simple birch odour only, visible to the dog
  • introduce vehicle search.

At the conclusion of the course, we will explain about:

  • trial rules and procedures
  • odours – birch,  anise, clove, cypress
  • classes – novice, advanced, excellent, masters
  • elements – interior, exterior, vehicle, container
  • how to enter a trial
  • volunteering to help at trials to gain experience
  • on-going training at club
  • odour kits
  • handling of odours
  • placement of hides when training