Canine nose work or scent work, using dogs to find something using their nose, has been around since humans and dogs first began to work together. In companion events, it’s done directly in obedience for the article exercise and of course for tracking. In real life, it forms the basis for almost all that we use dogs for whether it is hunting, search and rescue, sentry work, drug detection, or any of the other hundreds of things we use dogs for.
Searching for something fun that civilians could do with their dogs, a group in California decided to create a sport based on working detection dogs. Detection dogs are those trained to locate a specific odor, whether it be drugs, fruit, or termites, apart from the many other odors around in day to day life. They chose three odors which are easily found and yet not commonplace and decided that the dog needed to find them outside, inside, as directed by a handler, or when free to search a whole area. They set up three levels with level one being just one scent, one location of each of the four types, and one and only one location of that scent in those locations. As the dog advances in level the scents that might have to be located are increased to three unique scents plus every possible combination of those scents. More locations are added. More hides or no hides can occur in those locations. Plus, distractions such as food and toys can occur.