K9 Nose Work was created to afford dogs the opportunity to develop and use their natural hunting and scenting abilities. It was inspired by the model of working detection dogs, although it is not intended as a foundation for any professional detection training.
The intention of Nose Work is fun for the dog and the handler. K9 Nose Work helps dog and handler become a team that builds their relationship by working together. It teaches the handler how to "read" their dog.
Nose Work skills help a dog develop confidence, can reduce environmental sensitivities, and provide mental and physical exercise.
Nose Work classes are constructed in such a way that allows the dogs and handlers at all levels to particpate. Dogs that are handicapped or even reactive to other dogs can still participate. Dogs do not have to have any specific obedience experience, just a nose.
A fun, motivational, stress-free environment for all dogs and handlers, is a very important part of Nose Work.
Nose Work classes will not use or allow the use of any aversive training device(s) such as, but not limited to, pinch collars or electronic shock collars during class, clinic, or events.
If you are more of the competitive type, Nose Work offers the opportunity to compete and trial for titles under the banner of the National Association Canine Scent Work (NACSW (tm))
So, what is it that we do to develop the hunting and scenting abilities? Our Introduction to Nose Work class introduces the concept of the game, builds handler observation skills and timing , and gets the dog to focus. We work on building foundation skills to help the handler read the dog and build the dogs intensity for the hunt. We start with a toy or food reward, whichever most interests the dog, and we hide the reward in any one of a number of boxes put out on the floor. We start with food or toy instead of one of the three target odors to build the hunt drive and handler skills. As the dog progresses through the hunt we introduce other objects into the field. We might hide the food or toy under a vented cone or under a folded chair.
Our next level is Introduction to Odor. As long as the dog is displaying the desire to hunt and scent we will introduce the first of the three target odors. This odor is birch. We will go back to a lot of exercises, including box work that we did in the previous class, but will gradually progress to using only the birch odor or "pair" it with the primary food or toy to develop what is referred to as "odor obedience." That is when the dog makes the connection that finding the odor alone will bring a reward. Additionally at this level the exercises will expand in difficulty and the searches will include intrduction to working in new environments, container hides, interior hides, exterior hides, and vehicle hides.