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Scent Work – How To Get Started 8 Top Tips

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scent work how to get started

Scent work how to get started

Scent work is one of our Head Trainer Nikki’s favourite things!

She loves it so much she became a qualified Scentwork UK trainer, Judge, and Trial Manager!

So what are Nikki’s top tips for scentwork?


The more your can build a fantastic reward for your dog, the more they will want to search and find that scent!

Do you know what game your dog is crazy for? Is it fetch, tug, or something else? Do they like treats being thrown, do they like to catch? Do know which reward makes your dog light up?

2.Choose a scent

Which scent do you want to use?

Scentwork UK, and UKCSD start with cloves.

Talking dogs scentwork use catnip.

National association of canine nose work (USA) use Birch/Sweet Birch.

My personal favourite is cloves.

3.Grab the uniform

My dogs have a unique uniform that they only wear when engaging in scentwork. This uniform tells my dog that they are sniffing and searching (as opposed to running and jumping in agility).

The harness helps them to engage their work brain, its especially helpful for Tokyo (below) who is a dog who generally doesn’t sniff much.

scent work how to
Tokyo in her scent work uniform (harness)

4.Save some boxes!

All of those Amazon purchases have paid off! Boxes are an essential tool in scent work. Not to mention a super fun place to hide things.

Just make sure that your dog does not like to trash or rip cardboard. If they do, you might want to rethink the cardboard and switch to plastic boxes instead. Trashing the search area loses points!

5.Play hide the treat.

A really easy way to get your dog searching enthusiastically, is to get them looking for the food. How many times has your dog paw’d under the sofa for the treat the rolled under. They know its there!

Start hiding little treats for them. Start with them in the same room, with an easy hide, maybe a large-ish piece of chicken near the edge of the room. Your dog will find it in no time. Gradually make the searches harder, but not so that they cannot access the treat.

You’ll find that you have to get creative with the hiding places pretty quickly!

6.Download our free ebook!

To find out more, our handy ebook will tell you all about the sport, and why your dog should be getting involved!

7.Join our Online Scentwork Course!

Scentwork is something you can train from home, (and honestly, thats my favourite kind of training). There’s nothing better than being able to get a bit of training in while the kettle boils.

I’m also a big fan of keeping training sessions short and sweet. You don’t need to train for 30mins or even an hour. 5 minutes is all you need, 10 if you really want to push it.

8.Check out Scentwork UK

Scentwork UK is the organisation which runs competitions in the UK. Here you can find and enter trials near you.

scent work how to
Scent work how to get started