A new canine activity is exploding in popularity – it’s called Nose Work. Nose Work develops your dog’s natural scenting abilities through fun and games. The objective is for the dog to find a hidden target scent and alert the human handler to the location. It is very similar to the kind of work that highly trained detection dogs do for law enforcement and the military.
Nose Work can also be a very bonding team experience between the dog and its owner/handler. The dog actually teaches the handler to trust the wonderful scenting ability that canines have. You can learn to read the subtle body language messages that your dog uses to indicate that they are hunting and then locating the target scent – it can be as simple as a tail way, barking, stomping on a box, doing a little dance or politely sitting and “telling” you where the scent is located.
One of the biggest advantages of the Nose Work sport is that is requires no previous skill on the part of the owner, so anyone can do it. And the same goes for the canine participants – any dog can do it: puppies, high-energy dogs, disabled dogs, senior dogs, reactive dogs. The training allows only one dog at a time to be “working,” so it is safe. Big dogs and even short little Dachshunds can participate. Training and competition for Nose Work are open to elderly, blind, deaf, 3-legged, cart-bound, behavior issues dogs.
Nose Work builds confidence in dogs and allows them to do what they were born to do – hunt, using their incredible sense of smell. It engages a dog and uses positive reinforcement. And for the human component, it is just simply gratifying to watch your dog enjoy the activity.
You can simply use the training to have fun with your dog, or the option to compete is available through the National Association of Canine Scent Work (www.nacsw.net). Training for competition involves the use of three scents: sweet birch, aniseed and clove bud.
Nose Work activities can be done outside, inside, using boxes or containers and even vehicle search. Once the human learns how to set the “hides” with the scent, you can practice Nose Work searches almost anywhere: in your yard, your house, while on a walk, etc. Happy sniffing!