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“Too often we seek only success in practice believing that only success will produce perfection. This state of mind is driven by ego and not necessarily a formidable plan for perfection. In trailing, perfection does not exist because ultimately we are nothing more than an impediment to the dog in its action. Secondly, the nature of the hunt itself has a high degree of failure built in, for all of nature’s top hunters will fail at finding prey the vast majority of the time. Failure does not deter the hunter. Failure only teaches the hunter that should it fail too often it will die. Failure, therefore, is nature’s best teacher.”


Tao of Trailing; Grey Wolfe Publications 2015

Personal dog, Mad Dog Maggie, during Randy Hare's Detection School.

Personal dog Mad Dog Maggie.
NACSW Elite & 
Harry Award .

Loggy Harry Award pic.jpg

Loggy The Log.  Harry Award, NACSW  NW2.

Student dog, Aspire, 5 months old BC 1st session


The activity and sport of K9 Scent Detection , comes from professional police and military detection. Whether it is an activity or a sport, the dog should learn  to run the show and work away and independently of the handler. Different methods are used to train scent detection. X Learning K9s does not subscribe to any single method but encourage handlers to appreciate a natural response from the dog.  There is beauty in a dog trying to communicate with the handler in his/her own away and the handler knowing exactly what the dog is saying. Focused responses can be trained as well, if that is the handler preference.  We evaluate each individual dog and adjust training and equipment used, depending on the animal and handler needs. Some of the benefits of this activity/sport are:


-Building the animal confidence through successful trials.
-Building hunting and problem solving skills utilizing hide placements and environment manipulation.

-Helping owner/handler to establish a positive relationship with their companions.

-Learning to read body language and recognize “in odor behavior” and “changes of behavior”.

-Safe environment in which each dog can play the game.

-Handler/owner does not need to start with any particular handling or training skills.

-The only obedience required is obedience to odor, which comes with time, training and experience.

-Every dog and every handler can be involved.


X Learning K9s introduce dogs to legal odors/substances, in the majority of cases, that are used by different sporting associations. The dogs learn to hunt and alert to these scents. Searches are made of different elements: containers, interiors, exteriors, and vehicles. Searches are set up to build hunt drive and learn the skills necessary to perform in each element with confidence. The initial training consists of putting value on a scent that was previously neutral, paring it with a primary reinforcer such as food or toy. We always use food in the early stage of the process with all dogs. That allow us to work with an animal that can think, slow down and focus, which does not always happen when a toy/ball is present .  X Learning K9s uses PVC tubes, cardboard boxes , pods and other type of containers during the imprinting phase and then move to accessible hides placed in the environment.
As the training and experience of the dog progresses hides will be made inaccessible.  Handlers are taught handling skills as well as observe the dog to determine when it is helpful to step in and when to let the dog work on his/her own. Searching for blind hides (location of hide unknown to handler), elevation, distractions etc are introduced later in the game. With different sporting venues popping up there has been a lot of pressure for “passive alerts” to be the only way to go. While we can certainly train dogs for passive alerts and handler chosen behaviors we believe in the beauty of natural communication, which varies with each dog involved.  It is our job, as handlers, to recognize what a dog is saying to us. 

**  Sport detection has been picking up in the past few years and the quality of trainers greatly varies. We suggest to work with a trainer that has titled his/her dogs  ,  has students that titled their dogs, has a solid background in canine detection, understand scent theory, has invested in an education while still keeping up with it and can work with all type and breed of dogs.  **


Personal dog Hotwired Jack, TT CGC UKC UWPV UWPCH UWPO NACSW NW1, NW2

Hotwired Jack, TT CGC

Mad Dog Maggie
NACSW  Elite & Harry Award.     


Mad Dog Maggie 
NACSW  Elite
at Mr. Randy Hare Detection Dog Instructors Course


Handlers in this sport and activity are really all sorts of people. Dogs of different breeds and mixes, age, predisposition and size can participate in and enjoy K9 Scent Detection. From older dogs with disabilities or dogs with behavioral issues to 8 weeks old puppies….they can all play. This activity is especially beneficial to dogs that need to build confidence and/or be given a job to do, where they are successful. X Learning K9s does not discriminate toward any breed. ​We also work with dogs of every temperament, including those that that display aggressive behavior, as long as safety precautions are understood by each handler/owner and followed through. Safety of all involved is number one priority. Please familiarize yourself with different associations and their rules, if competition trials are a goal. Not all venues are a good fit for every dog.

Student  dog Tanner, 17 weeks old puppy on his 4th session.

Java, a student's Dutch Shepherd, with her NACSW NW1 HIT ribbons.




Group class, complex puzzles with distractions.

Dogs are put on target odors in a low distraction environment, during privates or group classes. Please ask for locations. We then move to outside searches in different places. Dogs are taught to search in as many environments as possible, with consideration for each individual dog. Students and dogs at the right level join field trips to new buildings and different locations.  At the moment, we have outside group classes at a variety of locations and a building in Weber County.

Continuing classes at the Utah Dog Park.

Below are examples of  places we train in .

Loggy , F-35 hangar search.

Loggy, hangar and office searches.


Kelpie puppy on his 3rd field trip.

Henry, Hound mix.


An email with details , safety guidelines and contracts is sent when the first detection session is booked. Equipment/items to bring:

A well-fitting harness.  A good fitting harness is preferred. If a collar is a must have, it needs be a nylon or leather flat collar, wide enough to be fairly comfortable if the dog is pulling. The dog should be able to pull and move freely, without anything restricting movement or creating negative associations with the work. The dog will be hunting independently, without any pressure. Please no no-pull harnesses, head collars, choke chains, prong collars, electric collars etc. when the dog is working.

6 foot leash and long line (15 feet) with handle. Please nothing “extra” attached to the leash or long line.    Might be best to choose a material that is easier to grip.

Crate. Needed to safely confine the dog away from the working area. Only one dog will be working at any given time. Please make sure the crate is sturdy and the vehicle in which the crate will be kept is properly ventilated, shaded and the dog has access to water.  If possible and safe the trainer will offer options in hot temperatures.

Food Rewards: please bring treats/food that is valuable to you dog. Food is a powerful primary reinforcer. Some ideas are: cut up cheese, hot dogs, cooked pork, beef, chicken, meatballs, ham etc. If commercial treats are used it is best to look for quality moist and smelly treats are ideal vs dry up Milk Bone type. Something that crumbles too much is also going to add distractors and “freebies” in the environment.

Treat Pouch/Bag: to wear, to carry food rewards.

Toy Rewards: toys will be used as reinforcers, for the right dogs, after starting on food.  Please bring at least two of the same toys.

Proof of Vaccinations.  Rabies vaccination proof is needed (not just the tag on the collar), along with parvo and distemper (initial dosage) or antibody titer level. Please scan and send email before private session or class, or bring proof on the first day. Before registering for a group class that is not at our place, please check with us for vaccinations requirements.

Note:  please remember that not all dogs are comfortable in the presence of other dogs, or people. Each dog individual space need to be respected. Dogs are not to interact with each other, as long as a session or class is taking place. Dogs that aren’t social with other dogs or people are allowed in our sessions, classes and field trips. This one of the few activities and sports some dogs can play in and we want them to do so safely.


Group Classes : classes are kept to a maximum of 7 teams to make sure enough time is given to each team and we get a chance to go over scent theory and handling. We meet once a week for 5 weeks, regardless of the level. Each session one hour and 30 minutes. We accept ALL dogs of ALL breeds and with behavioral issues, as long as safety guidelines are followed. We might suggest some private sessions if a dog is having a hard time in group classes. Class fee is $ 250.

Private Sessions: they are ideal for dogs that might not do well in group classes quite yet, handlers that prefers one to one attention and teams needing to catch up with advanced classes. It can be difficult to modify every search to accommodate every team when in group classes. We can certainly do that with private sessions.  Each session is one hour. The fee is $110.

***We accept Zelle as a form of payment .  We also accept cash or checks , with payments received ahead of time to reserve any of our services. ***

***All training programs and program prices subject to change. X Learning K9s LLC reserves the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason. **

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