Long-time Weimaraner owners Kate Kemp and Rick Burgess discovered scentwork a few years ago. Scentwork is when a dog uses its sense of smell to identify and locate a scent, which it has been trained to detect.

We’ve always had a keen interest in nosework, mainly participating in various tracking activities, so when we discovered scentwork we were keen to give it a go.

We started off with one day workshops with Talking Dogs (http://www.talkingdogsscentwork.co.uk). Talking Dogs holds one-off workshops and has recently introduced Detector Dog Online Awards. With Paddy starting to retire from agility, we concentrated more on nosework activities and were lucky to have the opportunity to train with one of the founders of Scentwork UK (scentworkuk.com) and we haven’t looked back.

Scentwork UK promotes scentwork, both as a training activity and as a dog sport throughout the country, by providing regular training and trials nationally with its network of recognised trainers and judges. Training activity As a training activity, scentwork is fun, very rewarding and at the same time mentally challenging for your dog. It harnesses the dog’s natural ability to use its fantastic sense of smell to search, find and identify where a scented article is hidden. It’s a great confidence builder and due to its low physical impact it is suitable for dogs of all ages and abilities. Its great for dogs that are rehabilitating or those that are more mature and just don’t want to retire.

Apart from your chosen odour, you do not need any special equipment, making scentwork very simple and low cost. Most of the training can be done in the luxury of your own home and garden.

Trials

Trials are based on the detection-style nosework practiced daily by customs and excise dogs, explosives/firearms and modern detection dogs. The search areas are designed to replicate those that would be encountered by a working scent detection dog, but without the danger of using drugs or explosives! There are four elements; two internal searches of table and chairs, boxes and luggage, and two external searches consisting of an exterior vehicle search and general exterior item/area search. Currently, there are eight levels of progression. Dogs and handlers are tested against a consistent national standard and can progress by passing the individual levels at a Scentwork UK trial. Starting with one odour at level 1, additional odours are added at levels 3 and 6. Also, the search areas and tests increase technically and in difficulty as you progress through the levels. For example, at level 1 a dog and handler team needs to find one scented article in three out of the four search areas to qualify. Searches are timed and marks awarded for the dog finding the article and the handler on their handling.

For those teams that find all the articles in all of the search areas a ‘Clean Sweep’ is awarded. 1st to 4th places are awarded to those who have achieved the highest marks in the fastest time. Points can be gained at trials and these go towards ‘Scentwork UK’ Excellent titles, which reward consistency and excellence at all levels. Points are awarded to 1st to 4th places, clean sweeps and qualification at the individual levels. So whether you choose to do it for fun or go on and enter trials and gain Scentwork qualifications and awards, both you and your dog will enjoy the new challenge. Who knows what your dog’s nose knows!

Kate Kemp and Rick Burgess

Rick and Kate are Scentwork UK trainers based at Longbridge Deverill, just outside Warminster in Wiltshire. You can contact them via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.