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Scent Work



Canine scent detection or “scent work” is a fun, mentally challenging activity for dogs and handlers that can easily be practiced at home, in parks, or even parking lots!  Because the sport is not interactive or physically demanding, older dogs, reactive dogs, or dogs with old injuries can all safely participate.  Most dogs will find it rewarding because it lets them finally use their primary sense—their sense of smell!!  Dogs learn about the world through their nose much the same way as we see it through our eyes.  Your dog’s confidence will grow as your dog develops his or her natural abilities, and you will learn just how amazing your dog’s sense of smell really is—and how amazing a partner your dog can be!

All you need to get started are your dog and plenty of high value treats, possibly a larger quantity than you would bring to a regular obedience or agility class or, if your dog is toy motivated, a favorite toy.  You will also need to purchase scents and scent containers for use at home (there will be starter kits available for purchase at class, but you can easily make your own).

A drop or two of these essential oils are placed on the end of a Q-tip and the Q-tip is placed in a container.  Kits for certain venues with prepared Q-tips and containers can be purchased for on-line, the essential oils can be purchased separately.


You can go on-line and purchase (or even just to get a better idea of what is available) at: which has scents, kits, containers, DVDs, and much more.... or the oils only are available at:


 It can be helpful to use a different collar or a bandana when you start your dog in scent to help your dog learn when to engage in scent work behavior, and when not to.

 Birch Bark Sweet, Clove Bud, Cypress, and Lemongrass.

 Birch, anise, clove, myrrh, and vetiver

 Birch, anise, and clove 

 Birch, Anise, Clove, and Cypress

Instructor:  Kathryn Gordon has taught weekly nose work classes and private lessons since 2013.  Many of her students have had success competing in various nose work venues, placing frequently and moving quickly to advanced classes.  In addition to teaching scent work classes, Kathryn has trained dogs for search and rescue since 2011.  She has experience working with dogs in all of the search disciplines, particularly in trailing and human remains detection. Kathryn is currently certified with her German Shepherd in human remains detection and advanced crime scene work.  She and her rescue Border Collie are also certified as a land cadaver k9 team.  


Kathryn stays abreast of scientific and legal literature related to scent work and attends numerous trainings and professional conferences on the subject, including the University of Pennsylvania clinic and veterinary conference and the K9 clinic at the Forensic Osteology Research Center in North Carolina.  Kathryn has given numerous well-received talks on scent work to groups in Michigan and Ohio.  She is a current member of the International Police Work Dog Association and the National Association of Search and Rescue.

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