Scent Detection Blog

How Do I Get the Toy Back? Toy Switching Prevents Keep Away

Sep 14, 2020

Toy play helps to engage and motivate dogs, and if your puppy is chewing, providing appropriate toys help prevent chomping people's hands. One of the most common errors is playing "keep away", where the handler tries to grab the toy (or the dog's collar) and the dog runs away. This can quickly become a happy game for the dog, but it's certainly inconvenient for the handler.

Keep away frequently happens because the handler focused on taking the toy away from the dog. Some of the best retrievers don't want to give up the toy. From the dog's point of view, playing with the toy is rewarding, and when you take it away it's punishment. So how do you get the toy back? 

The video above demonstrates a better strategy: toy switching, which makes tug a more interactive, cooperative game you enjoy together. It's not just about the toy, it's about playing an exciting game with you. When you focus on having fun, instead of taking the...


Barking Indication - How to Start Training

Aug 08, 2020

Ever wondered how to deal with situations where your dog finds target odor but you can't see them? How will you know they've found source? Will your dog let you know, or come back to find you? This post show how to start training an indication with barking, so you can easily locate your dog while they indicate target odor at a distance.


Barking is useful for sniffer dogs who work at a distance, so the handler can't see them when they find and indicate source, such as searching debris piles for Search and Rescue. Barking tells you the dog has found target odor and helps you to locate them. When combined with a sit/down stay while staring at source, you'll know exactly where to find your dog, and the source of target odor. 

In the video above, I use cheese to start training BB to bark. BB is my 9-year-old bed bug detection dog who's already trained for a passive, silent sit/down indication. (Most facilities do not like bed bug...


Building the Brains of Newborn Puppies

Jul 27, 2020

Did you know that healthy puppies are born blind and deaf, and must rely on their sense of olfaction (as well as touch) to find their mother's milk? Sniffer dogs aren't only born, but can also be carefully nurtured, starting from newborns and beyond. For example, starting at 3 days of age, a critical window of opportunity for puppy development is open: for Early Neurological Stimulation, in addition to Early Scent Introduction. 

Over several generations of sniffer dogs (since 1999), Hunter's Heart Brittanys has followed the Biosensor (Early Neurological Stimulation) program (1), as well as introducing a new scent daily. This early brain training introduces mild stressors, prompting the neurological systems to adapt and accelerating brain development. It kickstarts the neurological system and may result in earlier proficiency and improved performance over what would normally occur without intervention.

Essentially, we help to build the brains of the puppies...


Save More Time Training on Cocktailed Hides

Apr 24, 2020

Did you know you can save more time by training canine scent detection using cocktail?

A “hide” is the package of target odor inside a ventilated container that is hidden in the search are for the dog to find e.g. a cotton swab inside a metal tin. Learn how to make single odor hides with proper odor hygiene at:

A “cocktailed” hide contains multiple odors. At my classes, I routinely use a cocktail of all 6 target odors required for CKC Scent Detection Competition: Birch + Anise + Clove + Wintergreen + Pine + Cypress. The video shows exactly how to make hides with a cocktail of all 6 CKC scents. 

Of course, you can make a cocktail of whatever target odors you want your green dog to learn. For example, illegal narcotics on the street are rarely 100% pure, so training on a mixture by using cocktail more closely resembles real life deployments....


Recipe: Noncrumbling Tuna Fudge Rewards

Apr 19, 2020

Every canine scent detection class I teach begins with a taste test of the available food rewards, because building drive depends on making it rewarding for each individual dog. When you offer a dog 2 - 3 high value food rewards, and let the dog select the one they prefer, they will be more highly motivated to succeed.

I learned scent detection from a military detection dog trainer, who demonstrated that most dogs enjoy Rollover or rotisserie chicken from the local grocery store. But while these foods appeal to dogs, they usually fall into pieces that make a distracting mess on the floor. The best training rewards should have it all:

  • Smelly and tasty
  • Noncrumbling – dry, tidy and easily portable
  • Available in small pieces – you want the dog to gobble a piece quickly and get back to work, so you can practice the most repetitions in the time available
  • Healthy – quality and nutrition with no surprises, and the fewer additives the better
  • Cost effective, and
  • ...

50% OFF STAY AT HOME SALE Ends April 19, 2020

Apr 18, 2020

Watch the video to see what Domino has to say about our scent detection training. 

Register for our new 7-Day Scent Challenge to learn how to introduce your dog to a new scent in just 7 days, like we did with Domino. Choose your favorite scent e.g. a glove for handler discrimination. The protocol applies the same techniques we use to train professional detection dogs. The secret is it has to be fun.

We're so sure you'll have fun, it's guaranteed. Try the course and if you don't have fun, you have 7 days to request a refund. The 50% OFF STAY AT HOME SALE ends at midnight, April 19, 2020!



FREE Handling Scent During COVID-19 Barkinar on April 12, 2020

Apr 10, 2020

Our FREE Handling Scent During COVID-19 barkinar is now open for registration.
Apr 12, 2020 07:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Host: Dr. Carla Simon, MD, BSc, MBA | Hunter’s Heart K9 Scent Detection Training
Live on Zoom
Register at:

Here's what we'll cover:
* Review of how we usually make scent detection hides
* How to create hides when you don't have any gloves (after COVID-19 shortages) 
* Proofing off of handler scent
* Lessons learned from bed bug inspections
* How to avoid the most common odor hygiene errors
* Please email questions in advance to

I hope you can join the discussion. 


13 Things You Need in Your Scent Kit

Apr 09, 2020

Here are the 13 supplies you need in your scent kit, so you can efficiently make hides and ensure proper odor hygiene. 

Pro Tip: make your hides at home, not in the field. At home there is no wind, and you have time to be careful and avoid contamination. For safety, avoid bringing glass into the field because it’s breakable, which could hurt dogs and handlers.

For your convenience, I've included some links to purchase items on so you can see what similar items look like. I am not an affilitate, and earn no revenue if you choose to purchase or not. 

  1. Sharpie marker or pen
    • Use a marker or pen to label all containers.
    • Tip: put a post-it-note inside your pelican case and write down the number of hides in and out (comparing how many hides you place in the search environment vs. how many you pick up when you’re done, will ensure you recover them all.)
    • If you’re placing several hides, writing down the hide locations while you place each of them...

Scent Detection Training Devices and DIY Setups | Hunter's Heart

Apr 06, 2020

Stuck at home in social isolation and looking for something to do? Don't get stuck in a rut. Here's some fun ideas for how to set up for training scent detection at home. 

Hiding Food

Many trainers hide food inside Kongs and stuffable food balls, in snuffle mats (like a deep shaggy rug), and amidst the grass in their yard to introduce puppies to finding food. Or fill a kiddie pool with safe balls or empty plastic bottles and hide the food at the bottom. Beyond that, there are innumerable opportunities to explore in the diverse world of scent detection. Newbies looking to learn how to use a scent detection kit for practicing at home can learn more at: Scent Detection Kit Instructions and Supplies for Nosework. Whatever your discipline, read on for some fresh ideas.

Use What You Have

Use what you have around you. Much to our delight, one of our students brought a small wine rack to class, replaced all the wine with a hide, and we simply rotated the rack to move the...


We moved our Blog!

Mar 27, 2020

We moved! Welcome to the new home of the Scent Detection Blog by Hunter's Heart. We're moving from wordpress and are gradually transitioning all of our content to this new URL. 

Thanks to all of our students, readers, friends and teachers for your support. We've been sniffing since 1999, and together we've learned about what works and what doesn't. This blog aims to share those learnings, and update them as knowledge about canine olfaction continues to grow.

Sometimes it's a struggle to adapt and keep pace. Thank you for your patience. When I graduated from the University of Toronto in 1995, I was working on a mainframe, and carrying floppy discs. I remember reading (paper) books to learn about the developing world wide web.  Online searches were long, tedious, hard work with frequently disappointing results. The scanned photo in this post is from my (paper) scrapbook from when we had only 1 dog, and 5 ferrets, each with their own lessons to teach....


50% Complete


for the latest scent detection tips and news.

Just press the button below, then check your email. You need to click the link in the email to confirm your subscription. 

Don't forget to check your junk email folder and add us to your approved senders list.