Scent work is a wonderful way to provide enrichment for dogs, and is a great interactive pastime for dogs and their humans. Watching a dog using their innate instincts and abilities, behaving in such a natural way as they put their amazingly developed noses to work is almost as rewarding for us to watch as it is for them to do. Knowing how to set the dog up for success in scent work and taking it further, introducing them properly to different scents and different scenarios in which to search, requires an introduction to ensure it is done correctly. This is where professional scent work courses are a great idea.
As with anything involving dogs, it is important that new concepts, ideas, and things we would like to try with them be introduced in the right way, through kind and ethical methods of coaching. Just as for any other course or instruction we might seek out to learn for and with our dogs, professional scent work courses must undergo a careful research and selection procedure, ensuring that the course provider has the right ethos and outlook, and that nothing in the course will damage the dog’s health or mental well-being.
The right professional scent work course will use a positive reinforcement, reward based teaching method, and the exercises will be designed in a way to set the dog up for success constantly as they progress. We want our dogs to enjoy this new activity, be keen and engaged when they know it is time to do some scent work exercises. Using a canine coaching approach empowers our dogs, increases their confidence and resilience, and means they develop a positive outlook towards the world. This will reflect in their enjoyment and progression through the different scentwork exercises they encounter.
Scent work encompasses a whole range of activities. From hunting out morsels of food scattered in the grass of a garden or around a house or using the nose alongside mouth and paws to solve food puzzles, whether specially bought or created at home from household recycling. Through the increasingly popular pastime of man trailing and right the way through to search dogs that hunt out missing people or a variety of different items or substances. All of these things are essentially the same – they are all scent work, and all will benefit in the early stages of exploring these activities from finding a good professional scent work course.