Introduction to K9 Nose Work

Golden Retriever

No, don't tell me. I know it's here somewhere. I'll sniff it out.

If you’ve been reading Something Wagging This Way Comes for a while,  you know that Honey has been taking a K9 nose work class at the local SPCA. I’ve written about it here, here, here, and here (or search for “K9 Nose Work” in the search section of the sidebar to see the titles and posts in one place).  We’ve really enjoyed it and are sorry to come to the end of the six week introductory class.

Our workshop has only been the teeniest introduction to an activity that can lead to sporting competitions, tracking, and even canine detection. But as our instructor said, if your dog never does anything besides sniff out treats, she’ll be happy.

I’ve been encouraged by my fellow bloggers at Rescued Insanity, Tales and Tails, and Kenzo the Hovawart to post a tutorial that shares what we’ve been doing in class.

I’m no expert and I don’t know much about the physiology of scent. But I think nose work is a great game to play with your dogs–especially if you’re finding it tough to get outside in the winter weather (Australians, I guess you’ll just have to wait until your winter if you need an excuse to work indoors).

I’ve posted the first tutorial on a new page. I’ll continue to add tutorials that reflect what our class did over the six weeks and post here to let you know when they’re available.

If you want to print this out for reference, you can either visit the page and click the email button at the bottom to send it to yourself. Then print out the email. Or if you want something more spiffy looking and easier to read, click the joliprint button. That will cause the text to be saved as a PDF which you can then print out.

Once again, I’m at the frontier of my technical knowledge. If you’d like to print out the PDF* and have problems, send me an email at somethingwagging(at)gmail(dot)com (substituting the “@” symbol for “at” and a period for “dot”). I’ll be happy to send you a PDF that way.

Please let me know what you think. If you already do a form of nose work with your dog, please add your suggestions or corrections to what I’ve written. And if you’re reading this from my part of the world, a new nose work class is starting soon at the SPCA. Give it a try.

*PDF stands for Portable Document File. It’s a file that can be read by any computer without formatting problems.

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  1. Yay, this looks awesome! Thanks for putting it all together. I just happen to have dozens of boxes hanging around in the office from the holidays. Now I can totally justify keeping them. I knew I didn’t put them in recycling for a reason!

    Do they offer a class at the next level for you and Honey to take? It looks like she really enjoyed it.

    • The class didn’t have a big turnout. And the next one doesn’t look too promising either. Once we have a critical mass, they may try to move onto the next level.

      However, the instructor did agree to set up some more practice sessions in the future so we’ll just have to see.

      I’d love to do advanced work–we could have used some help finding my husband’s missing glove last week.

  2. is it my imagination that dogs in blog do a lot of fun stuff? between honey, shiva and kenzo/viva, ms little pea is beginning to feel like a sloth.

    despite being a SIGHThound [mutt], georgia uses her nose all the time. she was bred to be a hunting dog. when we’re out on walks, and she finds an interesting smell [read vomit, poop, pee, dead thing], she becomes the most stuboorn dog on the planet. she will REFUSE to budge from the spot until she’s filled her nostrils with that smell. i used to pull her away, but like you, now realise that she enjoys it. so i leave her be. sometimes a bit disconcerting to the shoulder joint when she suddenly takes off, following a scent down the road.

    if only i’d read that list of yours [that details how it helps with certain “fearful” dogs]… LAST YEAR. lord knows i could have used it when missy went through her angsty phase. i never thought of using nosework on boring indoor days either. thanks for the tip. when it rains here, it can go on a bit [like 3 weeks], so i’m going to keep this in mind.

    georgia is btw, VERY GOOD at finding me and the Other Half. we train her to know our names, for in case we get buried one day in an avalanche.

    have a great day! :) xox

    p.s. i really must learn to write shorter comments.

  3. Thanks! This a great introduction on how to set it up and play some games. The tracking and scent class we take, is skipping all of this. Thats why it was in the start difficult to get Kenzo going in scent discrimination and searches. Strangely not in the tracking departement, he did that very well from the start.
    It would helped so much if we would have had such a class around. Next to tracking we still do nose games because he loves it so much and this will definitely will be put into use. And with Viva we only have been tracking, so with her we can start with these nose games first.

    What is very good about the description is that tracking is no obedience. No commands allowed! That is were many people go wrong and never come to a next level. The only thing that I could add, is to have a clear plan on how and when to use less or no treats. This can also block at a certain stage, where they take the whole thing for a treat search and loose interest if they don’t find a treat on the track soon. You can still give them treats as a reward of course, just not let them search the actual treat. I also had a setback with Kenzo when I used too many treats, which made him block and show less interest.

    Great series, looking forward to more nose work adventures!

  4. Oh cool! What a great introduction! Hubby and I were just talking about this, and I’m sending him the link so he can read about it for himself. I think Morgan might find it more entertaining than learning to balance treats on her nose on those snowed in days! Thanks for writing this one!

  5. Looking forward to reading more!


  1. […] just one more thing and then promise to shut up. I think this game also is kind of an intro to the Intro to K9 Nose Work, Pamela at Something Wagging has posted on her blog. Over this cold, snowy weekend, I intend on […]