Scent work involves training dogs to search for specific odours from certain essential oils in several situations called ‘elements’, in containers such as boxes, on the outside of vehicles, inside buildings and in the outside environment.
Dogs need to find the source of the odour and communicate its exact location to their owner.
Dog and owner teams compete to locate the source of the odour within a set time given by the judge to determine which teams are the fastest and most accurate in their searches.
Owners and dogs need to gain several qualifications at each level to progress to more complex searches at higher levels.
How long has Scent Work been in Australia?
Scent Work was introduced to Australia approximately 10 years ago. Scent Work has been a recognised Dogs Australia sport since 1st July 2020 and competitions have been running since early 2021.
What natural instinct does Scent Work bring out?
Scent Work allows a dog to fulfil its scenting, hunting, searching, tracking, and working needs with their owners.
What States/Territories is Scent Work available in?
Scent Work trials were held in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, the ACT and Queensland and Western Australia this year. South Australia had their trial plans stopped due to the COVID restrictions.
How many Scent Work clubs are there in Australia?
Scent Work is available in all States and Territories in Australia although Northern Territory is yet to initiate a judge’s training program and South Australia is still working on their program.
Victoria has one affiliated specialised club, however, there are more than eight affiliated Obedience and Tracking club who are training in the sport and running Scent Work trials.
New South Wales currently has no specialized clubs, but classes are being offered in at least 3 training clubs and workshops have been run at many more. Numerous private trainers are offering specialised training. In Tasmania, four Affiliates who offer Scent Work classes and at least eight trainers offer private classes.
In the ACT, there are four affiliates offering training.
Plans are in progress in South Australia to set up a dedicated Scent Work club in the new year.
In Western Australia, two affiliated clubs train Scent Work.
Why get into Scent Work?
This is a sport for any fitness level for any dog and the dogs don’t need to be specialised dogs, as anything from Chihuahuas to Great Danes can be very successful at this sport. Any energy level dog can be successful from couch potatoes to those bouncing from the ceiling!
Dogs can learn this sport from any age and it’s a behaviour they have practised since they were tiny puppies. Even quite older dogs can participate, many at 12 years old have recently earned their first title in this sport.
Training and giving dogs extended periods using their noses releases chemicals in their brains that give them feelings of pleasure. It helps reduce stress in dogs and can help in working through anxiety. Many people train in Scent Work simply to improve their dog’s well-being.
Scent Work doesn’t require the levels of physical fitness for both owner and dog required for other sports, ideal for those retired from other performance sports due to decreasing mobility as well as young and inexperienced owners.
To find your local Scent Work sport club please visit your local State website: