Therefore, I was pleased to find a couple of great links on Johann's blog. One is to an article called How to Train Scent Discrimination for Obedience Competition. It's at Karen Pryor's clicker training site.
The point is that you are teaching the dog to choose amongst scents, not just to track. In part, it says:
There are a number of ways to introduce your dog to the concept of making a choice based on scent. Remember that this is something the dog tends to do anyway. You can start directly with your own scent, or you can use something more potent and obvious, such as cheese or vanilla extract. The purpose of the more potent starter is not to teach your dog to use its nose, but to give you the ability to perceive more accurately what your dog is doing, and to respond to it.
It reminds me of a science game I've played often with young children, where there are two sets of small jars with cotton-wool in them, impregnated with scents. The children briefly open the jar, sniff the contents, and match up the pairs. I remember that vanilla was one of the scents we used. I've never known a child who didn't love this game - which maybe goes to show that we're not so different from our dogs.
Johann also mentions the K9events site that has a heap of links about retrieving and scenting. It's a feast of information. Given the weather we've had lately, with the hot days starting even before spring had finished, I think we're in for a long summer, so I'm really looking forward to trying these activities. If it's shady outside I think we could play out there without Penny getting overheated.