K9 Nose Work®
K9 Nose Work® is a new detection-style dog sport, and is designed to develop dogs’ natural scenting abilities by using their curiosity, desire to hunt, and their love of toys, food and exercise. Using NACSW approved training methods, your dog will have fun, build confidence, and burn lots of energy. There’re no restrictions, every dog born with a nose can do it! From high-level competition dogs to lap dogs – all are welcome in this sport!
Nose Work doesn’t require any obedience (it’s sometimes easier without), and because the dogs work one-at-a-time, even reactive dogs can be admitted. While other dogs are working, your dog can be safely kenneled or in your vehicle. A puppy at 12-14wks of age could start this fun activity, as can elderly and even disabled dogs – and every dog in between.
What will the dogs do exactly? During the first stage; the dogs will learn to find a piece of food, hidden in the environment. We start with boxes, to engage the dogs into scent/hunting mode. They already know how to smell, they just need to learn what to look for, when to start, and how to be successful as fast as possible. We help them with that by giving them boxes as a clue – it’s Nose Work!
This sport of K9 Nose Work® is different from tracking (and not as difficult for the handler). A good police dog knows to search two ways: He’ll first ‘hunt’ the subject; scenting the odor in the air and taking the shortest route to it, to stop the subject as fast as possible. Then he might have to go back and ‘track’ the ground route the subject was actually taking, to find anything the subject ‘lost’ on the way, like a gun or knife. So dogs are capable of doing both, tracking and scenting.
We won’t teach the dogs how to follow a track on the ground. We want them to ‘hunt’ for the scent, and/or to ‘target’ (take that direct route). When a dog enters an area, they can interchange ‘hunting’: nose in the air, following the odor; and ‘targeting’: going to specific items like boxes, cars, suitcases, … and deciding if that item contains the valuable odor or not. In the beginning of training, the dogs will ‘target’ more – looking with their eyes to find the box/treat. As they become more efficient, they’ll be able to ‘hunt’ the odor down just using their nose. A detection dog at the airport, for example, will run down a line of suitcases, without stopping at each item to decide ‘yes’ or ‘no’. He’ll stop dead in his tracks if he passes an odor he’s trained for, then pinpoint down the item. Hunting like this in the GAME of Nose Work, our dogs learn to do the same thing – and the quicker / more efficient they become, the quicker their time.
When your dog becomes a very efficient and confident ‘scent hunter’, then we’ll be able to change from finding food to finding just a specific odor. K9 Nose Work® uses specific essential oils for that, starting with birch oil. A drop of the scent will be put on a Q-tip, and the Q-tip placed inside a small tin or straw and hidden in the search area (indoors or outdoors). The dog has to find that one tiny Q-tip and let you know where exactly it is. Once your dog is confident in finding (and telling you about) the odor, you might be ready for trialing!
The class does not teach the dog to find it (they probably already know where it is). We want the dog to Hunt for what we want them to hunt for, Find what we want them to find, When we want them to find it and then clearly Tell us that they Found it!. That communication between dog and handler is amazing to watch – and even more fun to develop with your own dog! We’ll learn how to read the body language of our dogs better, and the dogs learn to find the birch (and then Anise and Clove) odors more important than any other good smells out there. Let them ‘hunt’, but our way!
K9 Nose Work®competition trials are available in Alaska! Ask us about them! If you aren’t interested in competition, this is still a wonderful sport that you and your dog can do at home, on a walk or at a local park – just for fun!
Level 1: K9 Intro To Nose Work® (Nose Work with food)
Level 1: K9 Nose Work® Puppy Primer (Intro for pups 3-9 months)
Level 2: K9 Intro To Odor® (Nose Work with odor)
Level 3: K9 Nose Work – Elements (learning to successfully search Containers, Interiors, Vehicles & Exteriors)
Nose Work Classes are full 60 minute classes