How to Build a Dog Scent Box

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Dog scent boxes can be used for training drug sniffing dogs, cadaver dogs and explosive detection dogs. The dog's toy ball is filled with synthetic scent drops. After the dog becomes accustomed to playing with the scented toy, he can begin scent detection work. The substance or scent drops are placed inside a scent box, which is then hidden. The dog is motivated to locate the scent box, as he believes he's searching for his toy. Dog scent boxes are typically constructed from metal or plastic, as wood can distort the scent.

Purchase a metal cash box or a similar small, sturdy metal box with a latch. For most purposes, you'll need a metal box that's about 10 or 12 inches wide, 4 or 5 inches tall, and about 6 inches deep.

Don safety glasses to prevent eye injuries from metal shards that may result from the drilling and filing process.

Use a drill with a bit suitable for drilling holes in metal to create one or two large holes on the lid of the box. The bit is large and circular, with teeth around the edge of the circle. The number and size of the holes will vary depending on whether the box has a handle and the size/location of the handle. If drilling just one hole, a diameter of 4 or 5 inches is sufficient; if drilling two holes, use a bit with a 2- to 3-inch diameter.

Eliminate the sharp edges of the hole using a dremel tool with a metal file attachment. File the perimeter of the hole(s) to prevent injury to the dog's nose and anyone who handles the box.

Cut a piece of screening that's slightly larger than the hole(s) that were created in the box top.

Open the box's lid and place a bead of epoxy glue around the perimeter of the hole(s), about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the edge of the hole. The glue will be placed on the underside of the lid, so when the box is closed, the glue will not be visible.

Place the screening over the holes on the underside of the lid and sink the screening into the glue. Allow it to set, per the instructions on the glue packaging. Setting time varies by product.


  • You can customize your box depending on the intended use. You can attach magnets, suction cups or hooks to the box, so it can be suspended, attached to a window or affixed to the underside of a car. You can use this process to make a smaller or larger version of this scent box.


  • Never use a scent box for dog earth trials training involving live rodents. Rodents must be placed in a special cage to ensure the animal's comfort and safety.