People often have a lot of questions about scent. I will try to answer the most common ones here.
The scent of your missing pet doesn't last forever and depending on many factors, it can last for as little as 3 days to as long as three months or more. The biggest scent trail killer is scent contamination. So what is scent contamination and where does it come from? Keep reading.
Many have probably heard of residual scent, and if you haven't, it's the number one reason your dog finds you so interesting when you come home. Everywhere you went and everyone you met is what your dog can smell all over you.
So just how much do you smell like your dog? To a dog's nose . . . a lot! If you live in the same house with your pet, everything you own and wear smells like your pet. Now, let's say your dog goes missing . . . what is the first thing you do? You walk through your yard retracing the dog's last steps. As you do this, you're leaving behind a second scent trail that contains your dog's scent both on the ground and as a wave of scent contamination in the air that smells like both of you. So as you walk through the woods or neighborhood looking for your dog, you continue leaving behind a detectable scent of both you and the dog.
Do you know what else smells like you and the dog? Any scent article from your home, including the one you just handed us to present to our K-9. This doesn't by any stretch mean you don't have a viable scent article we can use. Our dogs are trained to work through these common scent issues that arise when searching for missing pets.
In addition to you or your family members carrying the missing pet's scent through the area, a similar scent contamination scenario arises when you bring your dog's toy or blanket, for example, with you while you search or leave these items out in hopes they will attract the missing pet. Again, this serves only to spread their scent in areas the missing pet may not have travelled.
More than one dog in the house? Just like when you walk around, your 2nd dog's scent is spread around the area as they "search," leaving the scent K-9s multiple scent tracks to follow - though only one belongs to your missing pet. Yes, scent does things and goes places you never imagined. The good news is we've spent years learning, studying and applying scent theory in training and in the field and understand how best to preserve a scent trail.
There's a reason the police and other government agencies cordon off areas under investigation by K-9 search teams.