Learn About K9 Nose Work

See NoVa Dog Magazine, page 8 or online at http://www.novadogmagazine.com/mydogrules/read-it.

“I feel like my dog isn’t challenged enough with his daily walks and just going to the dog park. Is there something you can recommend that would challenge him?”

This is such a common question and K9 Nose Work is a great solution and it’s FUN. This new dog sport was developed by Amy Herot and Jill Marie O’Brien in 2006 with competitions beginning in 2008. Check out National Association of Canine Scent Work, www.nacsw.net.

Ever wonder why your dog stops to smell anything and everything while out on a walk? The answer is simple: Dogs have more than 220 million receptors in their noses, 30% of their brain, compared to humans who have around 5 million receptors. Try to be patient when you have your dog outside since he is checking email and reading the paper by smelling everything in his reach.

Why do this sport?

  • Outlet for dog’s energy and natural drive
  • Mental stimulation
  • Helps with focus and its fun!
  • Builds confidence
  • Exercise
  • Any dog can play including reactive dogs, fearful dogs, hyper dogs
  • It’s easy: takes little space, no expensive equipment needed

Types of searches: Container Search, Interior Building Search, Exterior Area Search, Vehicle Search

In class we begin with boxes which are always available and the price is right. You will learn how to arrange the boxes and other obstacles in order to change the flow of air so the dog can more easily pick up the scent.

Find something that truly motivates the dog. What will drive his hunting instinct? This is usually a high value food such as tiny pieces of chicken, steak, chicken hotdogs, salmon. Use your imagination and be creative.

Word of caution: DO NOT practice Nose Work in the kitchen or near any eating areas so as not to encourage counter or table surfing.

This is the beginning of scent detection. As the dog does well we add challenges of height and depth with distractions. Sometimes it can be a little difficult for dogs to realize that a scent is not always on the floor. We teach them to lift their heads and look at various heights. Nose Work II involves teaching a dog to find an odor such as birch or cloves. Additional challenges come with searching in different rooms and then outside where the whole world is a distraction.

Play Nose Work at Home

  • Choose 3 or 4 different locations in a room. Allow the dog to watch you place a treat in one of the spaces while he is sitting in the middle of the room.
  • Then say “find it!” This is a self-rewarding activity but it’s important for you to also quickly reward by immediately tossing another treat in the same place.
  • Repeat using all of the designated spots.
  • Now remove the dog from the room and place a treat in one of the previously used spots. Allow him to return and say “find it!” Continue to practice and see if he is successful finding the treat in all of the locations.
  • Next place the treat in a new location in the same room when the dog is not watching and see if he can discover it.

One of our customers uses a muffin tin filled with tennis balls. She hides a treat under one of the balls and tells her dog to “find it!” Stimulating for the pup and fun for mom!

I enjoy using Nose Work as a reward for obedience. After our dogs understood “find it” I’d ask all three of them to go to their beds. They remain in a down stay while I hide chopped carrots all over the house. Some are in plain sight on the floor while others may be on the edge of the bathtub or under a box. It’s so much fun to see the excitement in our dogs as they search. Of course when playing this game with multiple dogs they can not be food aggressive with each other. This is a wonderful activity for those rainy days or just times when you’re tired and want to relax.

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