Photo of nosework box with Birch hide (scented cotton swab in sticky envelope)

Making Single Odor Hides

A “hide” is the package of target odor inside a ventilated container that is hidden in the search are for the dog to find. The photo shows a very common type of hide, made from blotting paper scented with target odor inside a metal tin with magnets, which easily secure the hide to a metal surface. Other favorite hide containers include metal tins with holes, shipping labels, plastic tubes, etc.. (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. pre-scented piece of blotting paper inside a metal tin or a cotton swab in a sticky envelope.)

Download the scent detection kit instructions jan19 (PDF Handout). 

Here are the steps to make single odor hides:

Required supplies

  • Container labelled with target odor it will contain e.g. metal tin with holes labelled “B” for Birch
  • Odor in a labelled container ideally with an orifice reducer to dispense 1 drop at a time.
  • Cotton swab or piece of blotting paper
  • Disposable nitrile gloves and/or tweezers
  • Paper towels and garbage bag
  • Optional: orifice reducer on odor containing essential oil, parchment paper to protect your work surface.


  • Wash your hands with soap and water, put on a pair of gloves and work in a room where dogs don’t go, on a non-porous surface. If you want to protect the surface, parchment paper or wax paper work well. Set up all your supplies
  • Open the jar containing target odor essential oil. Wipe off any excess liquid that may have leaked around the rim. (Note that you will be able to smell the odor, indicating it is sufficiently strong.)
  • Place piece of blotting paper or cotton swab flat on surface (or hold it with tweezers). If your container has an orifice reducer, simply tip it over onto clean paper or cotton swab to dispense 1 drop. (A less precise method is to insert a clean unused cotton swab into the liquid. It is critically important never to put anything into your odor which may contaminate it.)
  • Use tweezers to put piece of paper or swab into your hide container.
  • Wipe rim of jar and close it. Clean up any messes.
  • Put garbage and gloves in the labelled bag. Seal it and dispose in garbage that dogs cannot access.
  • Open the window if necessary to ventilate the room.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water – the mechanical action is responsible for cleaning your hands, and minimizing contamination.

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