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11 Top Tips for a Perfect Scentwork UK Competition

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scentwork uk

So you want to compete in Scentwork UK?

Many people get into scentwork just for the fun of it!

Its a great rainy day activity to give your dog some mental stimulation.

After a couple of lessons with me, my students often ask, whats next?

How can they take this further?

I think for most people, me included, we need an end goal.

Something to focus on.

A reason to keep going, to get better.

That’s why I love Scentwork UK competitions.

Apart from the rosettes, competition day is just brilliant, exciting, and thrilling!

sniffer dog

1. Enjoy the day

I guess that’s a pretty obvious one! But just enjoy it. Its not the end of the world if your dog misses a scent, or even all four of them. Just come back stronger next time!

2. Relax

Take a deep breath, refer back to the first tip.

3. Make a list of everything you need.

Man I love lists! Just write down everything you need, or think you need, for competition day. Ideally do it the night before, and try to pack as much as possible. You don’t want to be rushing around the house early morning.

  • Collar
  • Harness
  • Short lead
  • Long lead
  • Treats. Lots of them!
  • Scented articles
  • Toys
  • Crates, bedding, blankets.
  • Lunch for humans and dogs.
  • Drinks
  • Because we’re in the UK, brolly, wellies, coats, hats, gloves, and bikinis! (Just kidding about bikini’s, but do pack for being outdoors)

And honestly, I am the type that over packs just to be safe. I will definitely pack two different long lines and see which feels best on the day!

4. Plan your journey

Know where your going, get the postcode ready, its just one less thing to stress out about!

5. Read the rules

Make sure you’re up to date with the requirements and rules of the competition. Check how long you have, how many articles will be in the area, and remember, no rewarding in the search area!

Read the Scentwork UK guidelines here.

6. Practise

Have a little practise before the competition starts.


Please be considerate of other competitors. Make sure that your search areas are outside of the venue (and car park), and will not interfere with the other dogs.

7. Test the wind direction

Pick up a few blades of grass and let them fall to the floor, the wind should carry them in the right direction. Take this into consideration when doing the exterior and vehicle searches.

8. Accept the help

In level 1, the judge will ask you if you want to know which 3 items out of 10-15, could contain the scented article. Accept the help. But still allow your dog to investigate the items you know do not contain the scent.

9. Trust your dog.

Maybe this should be the number 1 tip.

I would scream it from the rooftop if I could.


10. Take your time

Rushing only leads to putting pressure on you and your dog. A change in your body language could influence your dog to give a false indication.

Refer back to tip 1 and 2. Take a deep breath, and let your dog work as though she was training at home.

11. Timing is everything.

At level 1, you will have 3 minutes per search area to find the article. This is usually plenty of time for an experienced dog, so don’t rush.

The judge will tell you when you have 30 seconds left. If your dog is not giving any solid indications, then then you could always take a guess yourself.

Throughout the trial, watch your dogs body language carefully, if there is any article that he takes a particular interested in, then feel free to stick your hand up and call it as ‘the one’! At least there’s a chance you could take some points home!

12. You always take the best dog home.

Your dog is always a winner, even if they didn’t win. And if they did win, congratulations!


Click here to get started in scentwork

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Tug e nuff

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