Five Scenarios for Scent Detection Dogs

Scent Dogs A strong and developed sense of scent allows dogs to lead their handlers to the locations of different types of items. Regardless of location or distance, a canine handler needs to be able to work with their four-legged partner to find a difficult-to-find item or person. But what kind of situations should you prepare for while training a dog’s sense of smell for use by a handler? Let’s explore some of the common uses of dogs in professional settings.

Search and Rescue

Perhaps the most common use for scent detection dogs is for tracking, search and rescue and cadaver dogs. Search and rescue canines are used to locate living human beings, usually those who have gone missing, though these dogs can be used in case of a natural disaster. The dogs follow the scent of the missing person and work to follow the scent to find them as quickly as possible in case they need medical attention or assistance.


Tracking canines are similar to search and rescue dogs, although these dogs are more frequently used to locate suspected criminals or fugitives. Using a piece of clothing or a personal item, or nothing at all, these dogs are tasked with hunting down the source of the scent even through attempts by the target to use distractions, erratic movements or other means.


Cadaver dogs are another type of search dog that are used to track down indications of a deceased person. If the head of an investigation has determined that a search and rescue operation has gone cold, they will often bring in these dogs. These dogs can also be used in cold case investigations, assisting investigators who may be searching an area years after a crime to try and locate a buried body.

Scent Detection

Finally, dogs may also be trained to cue and alert to specific scents, such as explosives or drugs. Dogs can sniff out the tiniest waft from an illegal drug or illicit substance, which is why these dogs are commonly used in conjunction with security forces, schools, airports, border patrol and other police applications. These dogs need specialized training to sniff out drugs, bombs or other specific items regardless of location – on someone’s person, inside a bag or case or even hidden on or inside a vehicle.

By being able to train a canine to use their sense of smell, these dogs can become vital members of a handler’s team, helping to save lives and protect the general public. Are you interested in becoming a dog trainer who specializes in training canines to use their scent detection talents? Enroll in one of our classes and receive your certification from Dog Trainer College. Review our course listings to learn more, or call us today at 812-650-2394.