Scent Work

It's new and lots of fun !! Scentwork

Dogs Australia Scentwork rules

Dogs are routinely trained to detect a number of different odours. In the professional world, detection dogs can be used for everything from detection of drugs or other contraband at airports and customs, they can be used to search for people or cadavers, they can be used for detection of explosives, as well as the detection of pests such as termites or fire ants. Canine Nosework or Scentwork is a relatively new sport in Australia that is based on scent detection.


Currently, the only trials for Scentwork are run by ACSW (Australian Canine Scent Work; although the ANKC will be offering Scentwork trials in the near future. In order to participate in ACSW trials a dog must first pass an odour recognition test. The first odour that dogs learn to detect is Birch, followed by Anise and then Clove. ANKC trials will also include Cypress. In an odour recognition test there are 12 closed cardboard boxes set up in two rows and the dog must correctly identify (or alert) on the box containing the odour (also known as a ‘hide’). The handler must also correctly call ‘alert’. There is a time limit of 3 minutes.



Once a dog passes an odour recognition test for Birch, they can enter a Nosework Trial. The trial consists of four separate elements and the dog must pass each one in the same trial in order to gain their title. Each element usually has a three minute time limit. The four elements are four different searches:


Container Search – The dog and handler team search an area that includes a number of containers. The containers could be boxes, bags or any other enclosed container. The dogs must correctly identify a ‘hide’ placed in a container. The containers can be any size or shape and they may be in any pattern.

Macdolly Every Game You Play Sunni doing scentwork



Exterior Search – The dog and handler team search an outdoor area to identify the hide. The outdoor area can be any exterior area such as the outside of a building, a carpark, a grassy field, playground or any outdoor area. The dogs must search on lead and will often encounter other animal smells, rubbish, food or other litter and may have to do so in any weather condition.







Interior Search – The dog and handler team search an indoor area which may be a single room in lower levels or up to three rooms in higher levels. These are typical interior rooms but could be a kitchen, stadium, warehouse, office or any other interior area. Dogs often search off lead in interior searches.


Vehicle Search – The dog and handler team search up to five vehicles depending on the level. These can include any type of vehicle such as a tractor, car, caravan, motorbike etc. The hides are always on the outside of a vehicle but may be inaccessible in that the dog may not be able to get close to where the hide is placed.



Macdolly Every Game You Play Sunni scentwork practice

















There are many titles that are available but since it is a relatively new sport mainly ORTs, and NW 1, NW2 and NW3 trials have so far been held. More information about ACSW trials, how to join, how to register a dog and where to find an instructor can be found on the ACSW website. More information about ANKC trials will be available in the future.

Narrative by Cocker Spaniel owner and trainer :  Jo Lewohl


Contact Details

The Secretary, Cocker Spaniel Club of Qld Inc
Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Email : [email protected]