Scent Detection

Category: Industry News 154 0

By Jamie Bozzi, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KSA, and CNWI

Ever been in line at the airport and see a dog wearing a vest sniffing the carry ons? Or maybe you’ve seen a search & rescue team on TV with canines searching for a missing person.

The working dogs that you see have been specifically trained to locate certain odors – contraband, illegal substances like narcotics and/or explosives or even human scent (living skin cells or decomposed remains).

Dogs have an amazing olfactory capacity. They have 300 million scent receptors per nostril. Humans only have 6 million. Their brain is devoted to analyzing smells about 40x greater than ours. And while science continues to learn more about a dog’s incredible olfaction capabilities, we are using our four-legged friends in a variety of useful applications.

Types of working scent detection dogs:

-Narcotics (criminal)

-Explosives (national security)

-Accelerant (insurance)

-Environmental (endangered species)

-Human remains (cadaver)

-Bed bugs (pest control)

-Contaminants (like water toxins and other harmful chemicals)

-Early cancer detection (health and medical)

Our pet dogs can also perform the same tasks – the same type of scent activities as professional working dogs.

All dogs have the capacity to use their nose. Eye sight may fail, hearing my diminish, but the nose always knows! Dogs use their nose every day, the same way we use our eyes. They experience the world with their nose. We just teach dogs what to find AND how to tell us about that find.

Scent work classes are loads of fun! Dogs learn challenging puzzle games and they improve their problem solving skills.

Check out this AKC Scent Work video!

For more information on AKC Scent Work:

In scent detection classes, dogs are taught multiple elements. An element is a type of search. These searches mimic a variety of professional working dog jobs. Types of searches include: Containers (TSA); Vehicles (Border Patrol); Buried (Cadaver); Interior and Exterior (Narcotics and Explosives); and Handler Discrimination (your scent).

Scent work has many benefits and is easy to do. Benefits include:

-Helps build confidence and environmental resilience

-Any dog can participate (any age / any breed)

-No expensive or bulky equipment

-Uses only positive reinforcement techniques

-Bond with your dog

-And most important – have fun!

All levels of scent detection classes are offered at San Diego Humane Society.  Jamie Bozzi was the first Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) in San Diego and she is an AKC Scent Work judge. To learn more or register for the class, visit:


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