top of page
  • Courteous K9

What is Nosework?

Updated: Apr 26

What is Nosework:

Nosework is a sport you can do with your dog that teaches them to find a specific odor that is hidden and to indicate where it is. The most common odors used are Birch, Anise, and Clove (as this is what is used in Nosework Competitions) but the same concepts are used when teaching detection dogs to find drug odor. Dogs naturally love to use their noses, so it gives many dogs a natural outlet for that desire.


Dog practicing nosework alert

There are many benefits to teaching your dog how to use their nose. The one that people notice the most is how tired it makes their dog. Smelling and following an odor to its source is a very mentally-taxing activity. Even doing nosework for 15 minutes tires a dog out pretty significantly. It's the perfect activity to do on those bitterly cold winter days when you can't spend too much time outside. Nosework is a very approachable activity so all ages and breed can participate since it is not too physically demanding. Another big benefit, especially if you have a nervous or reactive dog, is that it is a great confidence building activity. Nosework does a great job at teaching dogs to work independently/away from their handler which can help with building confidence away from you and with the environment. 

Different Venues to Trial

- NACSW (National Association of Canine Scent Work) 

- AKC Scent Work

- USCSS- United States Canine Scent Sports

- UKC Nose Work

Each one of these venues have different rules, search elements, and odors that they use. But there is quite a bit of overlap with all of them. Generally, in all of these venues, your dog must first pass an Odor Recognition Test (ORT) 

Different Types of Hides:

  • Interior- This hide happens inside of any building. Searches can be in one room or multiple rooms.  

  • Exterior- This hide happens outside. Usually an exterior hide includes grass, cement, and/or gravel. The scent will be hidden somewhere outside (like under a picnic table) and the dog must source (find) the odor. 

  • Containers- The scent is hidden in some sort of container like a cardboard box, luggage, plastic bins, etc. The odor will be hidden in one of them and the dog must indicate on the right container.  

  • Vehicles- The scent is hidden on the outside of a vehicle and the dog must source (find) the odor. 

Recommended Equipment:

- Long line or retractable leash

- Harness

- Specific scent essential oil

- Q-tips to put odor on

- Multiple tins with holes, some to be "hot" with the scented q-tips inside, and some "cold" with no scent

- Lots of treats!

 If you and your dog are interested in learning more about Nosework, check out our group classes or online classes!

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page