The New Sport of K9 Nose Work

So last Wednesday Tucker and I took our first private k9 Nose Work Class.  Nose work is to drug detection what tracking is to search and rescue, but the dogs aren’t searching for drugs.  They start looking for fun things like treats and toys inside boxes.  They will progress to three scents (birch, anise, and clove).  AKC hasn’t picked up on this sport yet, but the National Association of Canine Scent Work TM (NACSW) regulates this new sport and holds trials for three different titles.

In our first class, Tucker worked on building confidence about looking in boxes for cookies.  He got cookies when he found the right box to look in.  We did this work off leash.  My job was to tell him to “find it” and then stand back and let him work.  Once he found the cookies I gave him a bunch more cookies in the box so he learns to stay in the box and that good things are found in the box.  Sometimes you have to help them find the cookies when they are first starting, so they are setup for success, but not by showing them where the cookies are, but rather by moving things around or walking around to make it more likely they’ll look in the right box.  Our homework now is to get some boxes and practice.  We will practice shutting the flaps on the box, so he has to work at getting into it and stacking the boxes so he starts to learn that the target might be anywhere.

I have to remember that in nose work, the treats are always giving inside the box, not from the hand, so they learn to concentrate on the scent and stay with it.  So far nose work is a fun and interesting sport without a lot of hard work involved.

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