Have you ever been curious about getting your dog involved in the sport of Scent Work? Scent Work is a civilian version of the kind of work professional search and rescue, narcotics, and other detection dogs do. In Scent Work, dogs are trained to locate and alert their handler to the presence of specific essential oil scents. Scent Work is a fun sport for dogs of all ages and physical abilities. This sport utilizes a dog's natural instincts to find and locate things with their amazing sense of smell. Scent Work is an enriching game that can provide mental and physical exercise for dogs, prevent boredom, and encourage canine critical thinking skills.
What to consider when purchasing a scent training kit
Introductions: You'll want to be intentional about how you start scent training your dog. You can take an introduction class or introduce your dog to odor alerts at home. The easiest way to get your dog to alert to scents is to start by pairing the odor with treats. To do this, place treats with the hidden essential oil. Over time, you'll be able to phase out the treats, so your dog is just searching for odor and being rewarded by you when they find it.
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Supervision: Scent Work is a fun activity for dogs and people to do together. Be sure to always supervise your dog when they are interacting with Scent Work supplies. Dogs shouldn't be left unattended with scents and other Scent Work supplies. This enriching game is made to be played under supervision and dogs should be prevented from coming in direct contact with the scent hides.
Training Goals: When thinking about purchasing a Scent Work training kit, it is helpful to consider your training goals. If you are looking for a fun recreational activity to do with your dog, select a kit that fits within your budget and looks to be the most enjoyable. If you have specific competition goals, you'll want to select a kit with the scent supplies that correspond with the scent titling organization of your choice, such as AKC, UKC, or NACSW.
The best puzzle game for introducing your dog to Scent Work
Although not designed for competition Scent Work training, this treat puzzle game is a great introduction to the activity as it encourages dogs to use their nose. It's an intermediate-level puzzle and "requires your dog to combine actions," like flipping open or sliding the red compartments, and removing the white bones for an added challenge. If you're not sure whether your dog will enjoy nose work games, it can be fun to start with a treat puzzle to get your dog sniffing and thinking before moving on to more expensive essential oil odors.
The best Scent Work kit for beginners
Intended for beginners, the Nosey Nose Nosework Games are a great way to engage dogs young and old. Senior dogs with reduced mobility can benefit from this type of enrichment, as can energetic puppies who are eager to learn. There are three instructional games for you and your dog to play, and the manufacturer includes additional tips to help get you started. You'll get five self-contained pouches filled with a blend of anise seed and corncob (note: they do not contain essential oils). Always supervise your dog while they're playing the nose work games as some dogs may attempt to rip apart the pouches. The kit also includes a tin of scent refills, and everything is contained in a tin box to lock in odors. Ideal for those looking to play Scent Work games at home, this kit is easy to handle and use without messy essential oils.
The best overall kit for AKC Scent Work
Perfect for dogs and handlers interested in competing in American Kennel Club (AKC) Scent Work, this kit includes many of the necessary supplies to get your dog started on target odors. While it's not as complete as the kit below, considering the price and contents, it's our pick for the best overall kit for AKC Scent Work. The portable kit comes in a secure, waterproof, and compact carrying case with an airtight seal. The case is sold in a variety of colors including blue, black, and yellow. This kit includes four target essential oil odors: Birch, Anise, Clove, and Cypress. There's an eye dropper for extracting odors and 36 unscented cotton balls for each odor. The kit also includes small metal tins for containing the scented cotton swabs. These containers are magnetic and can be attached to or under metal objects for training hides.
The most comprehensive kit for AKC Scent Work
This ultimate Scent Work kit contains everything you could possibly need for training your dog in AKC Scent Work. The kit comes with four essential oils in amber bottles: sweet birch, aniseed, clove bud, and cypress. You'll have an array of options for hiding scents as your dog gets better at the game. Hide supplies include: 8 flexible tubes, 1 slider tin, twist top tins in various sizes, magnets, lip balm tubes, small see-through discs, and scent labels, along with tweezers for handling scent.
The best kit for UKC Scent Work
Interested in competing in United Kennel Club (UKC) Scent Work? This kit contains the five target odors you'll need: Birch, Anise, Clove, Vetiver, and Myrrh. Included in the kit are the five target odors and 36 unscented cotton swabs for each odor. The kit also includes an eye dropper for each scent, and a magnetic tin for hiding odors for your dog to find. The kit comes packaged in an impact-resistant, portable, and waterproof carrying case.
The best Scent Work travel kit
Ideal for Scent Work training on the go, this travel kit includes three color-coded glass vials with three of the most common competition scents: birch, anise, and clove. Each vial contains six scented swabs. The kit also touts tweezers for handling the scented cotton swabs your dog will be searching for. Plus, it comes with various fasteners and scent vessels for securing the scents while they're hidden—think glue dots, evidence vials, tacky putty, and shrink tubing.
The best kit for NACSW Scent Work
Made specifically for people interested in competing in Scent Work events sponsored by the National Associate of Canine Scent Work (NACSW), this kit will help you and your dog get started on your training journey. The kit includes anise, birch, and clove essential oils. In addition to the three scent vials, the kit boasts jars with pre-scented cotton swabs for each of the included scents. You'll also get three eye droppers for depositing scents onto other cotton swabs. For searches, there is an aerated metal scent tin with a magnetic attachment. The entire kit comes packaged in an impact-resistant yellow plastic carrying case.