Do you ever stop to think about how your dog smells? No, I don’t mean after he’s rolled in a pile of rot.
How does he find something with his nose? And how is his sense of smell affected by changes in the temperature, wind direction, and even distractions in the area?
In the first class, the dogs found smelly treats hidden in a small plastic container with holes punched in the top and placed in a cardboard box. The first class accomplished a few things:
- got the dogs used to expecting something fun when they came into a room with boxes all over the floor;
- taught the dogs that yummy treats were waiting if they could just find them;
- gave the humans a chance to see the different searching styles for the dogs.
After practicing at home for a week, we came in last night to see some small changes made to the course. Added to the boxes were some new objects (traffic cones, agility equipment, furniture) for the dogs to search in and around.
The dogs now had to learn that the treats could be anywhere and they had to use their noses to figure out exactly where.
Moving the smelly treat into the traffic cone or blanket lengthened the search for all the dogs.
The class instructors observed the search patterns of all the dogs. Some dogs sniffed each box methodically. Others spiraled around the place where the treat was hidden to find the scent getting stronger as they came closer to the object. We also learned (thanks to Sophie) that pugs with pushed in noses don’t necessarily smell any less well than any other dog.
We”ll continue to practice at home and next week see what else the class has in store for us.
Is K9 nose work a good activity for you and your dog?
- Do you need a new form of enrichment that can be practiced anywhere, without much room, that doesn’t cost much?
- Does your dog need some stimulating exercise while recovering from an injury? Nose work doesn’t require a lot of physical activity.
- Do you have a dog that is reactive to other dogs? Most nose work classes are structured so each dog completes the course while other dogs are waiting elsewhere in their kennel or car. That makes it one of the few dog sports you can enjoy with your dog-reactive dog.
Honey is enjoying the class. She highly recommends it to other dogs.
Has anyone else tried K9 nose work with their dog? Have you entered any competitions? I’d love to hear about other experiences with the sport.