Nose Work® Classes

Dog searching for odor

Nose Work classes are designed to develop your dog’s natural scenting abilities by using their desire to hunt and their love of toys, food and exercise. This class is sure to be lots of fun for your dog, it will help to build your dog’s confidence and also burn tons of mental and physical energy.

At Gentle Touch Pet Training we’re always looking for more ways that dogs and their people can have fun. The sport of K9 Nose Work is loads of fun! And this sport comes with a great side benefit: better communication and a strengthening of the bond between people and their dogs.

Teah Anders and Katie Hawkins attended their first seminar on K9 Nose Work in June 2009 and they were immediately hooked! Teah and Katie traveled to LA weekly for approximately a year to learn about this new, fun, urban sport.  They were among the first 22 trainers in the country to become Certified Nose Work Instructors (CNWI). In February 2012, Darcy Larkin and Ivy Underdahl completed training and also earned their CNWI. Gentle Touch Pet Training is very proud to have four CNWI on site.

K9 Nose Work is an amazing sport governed by the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). K9 Nose Work was created by three trainers: Amy Herot, a professional trainer and certified detection dog handler and trainer; Jill-Marie O’Brien, CPDT-KA, an experienced trainer and certified detection dog handler; and Ron Gaunt who was a police dog trainer for 12 years and now runs a private security firm. Taking into consideration some of the beginning skills involved in K9 detection work, the founders started classes in LA in 2006 to help dogs learn to use their most significant attribute – their sense of smell!

Dog hunting for odorThe beginning Nose Work exercises are set up to motivate the dogs and encourage them to “find” a treat or toy. Of course, when they do find it, they are generously rewarded. The training begins with simple exercises where dogs search boxes for the treat or toy. Eventually, dogs start searching through different objects with different distractions and become more confident and skilled at this sport. The next step is to teach the dogs to search for specific odors such as birch, anise or clove. For this, handlers use small cotton swabs soaked with essential oil. Before long, dogs are searching indoors, outdoors, the outside of vehicles and all kinds of containers. As you progress with training, dogs begin to indicate when they have found the scent and handlers learn to understand when the dog is alerting to a found scent.

One of the things we love most about this sport is that it can work for any dog as it works with their innate ability to use their nose. The way the classes are structured, only one dog searches at a time. This means that even fearful or reactive dogs can be successful and that they can safely and comfortably participate in these classes. In addition to the breeds that might come to mind immediately like German Shepherds, Labradors or hounds; we’ve successfully trained all kinds of dogs including Shih Tzus, Pugs and Chihuahuas to compete in this sport. Nose work also does not require a lot of equipment or space. You can easily get started at home with just a few simple items. This sport is appropriate for the pet dog owner who just wants to have fun and give their dog more mental stimulation. For those who love to compete, dogs as young as six months can compete and there are three levels of competition (NW1, NW2, NW3).

The only prerequisite for this class is that your dog be crate trained or be able to sit quietly in your car between search exercises. For additional information on this sport, refer to the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) at www.nacsw.net.

Click to see Nose Work Frequently Asked Questions.

Click to learn how Nose Work can build confidence for success in the conformation ring.

Certified Nose Work Instructors

Gentle Touch Pet Training is proud to have five Nose Work instructors certified by the National Association of Canine Scent Work: Teah Anders, Katie Hawkins, Darcy Larkin, Ivy Underdahl and Betty Scattini.

Gentle Touch Pet Training currently offers 3 levels of classes in Nose Work:

Intro to Nose Work

This is a 6-week class where we work with the beginning nose work exercises that are set up to motivate the dogs and encourage them to “find” a treat or toy. Of course, when they do find it, they are generously rewarded. The training begins with simple exercises where dogs search boxes for the treat or toy. Eventually, dogs start searching through different objects with different distractions and different elevations and become more confident and skilled at this sport.

Tuesdays
Jan 10 - Feb 14
5:30 - 6:45 PM
Instr: Ivy
Mondays
Feb 6 - Mar 13
2:00 - 3:15 PM
Instr: Betty
Tuesdays
Apr 4 - May 9
5:30 - 6:45 PM
Instr: Teah/Ivy
Mondays
May 1 - June 12
(No Class May 29)
2:00 - 3:15 PM
Instr: Betty

Intro to Nose Work 2 (Intro to Odor)

This is a 6-week class where we introduce the dogs to finding a specific odor. We begin by teaching them to search for small cotton swabs soaked with an essential oil (sweet birch to start) paired with food or a toy. Before long, the dogs are searching for just the odor understanding that finding the hidden odor will unlock the key to the primary reinforcer – food or toys! Soon dogs are searching with not just boxes, they are searching through different objects with different distractions and different elevations and becoming even more confident and skilled at this sport.

Tuesdays
Feb 21 - Mar 28
5:30 - 6:45 PM
Instr: Ivy
Mondays
Mar 20 - Apr 24
2:00 - 3:15 PM
Instr: Betty
Tuesdays
May 16 - Jun 20
5:30 - 6:45 PM
Instr: Teah/Ivy
Mondays
Jun 19 - July 24
2:00 - 3:15 PM
Instr: Betty

Continuing Nose Work

This is an ongoing class. Clients may purchase a 6-week class card that can be used over a 12-week period. In this class, we continue teaching the dogs to search for odor. We build skills and confidence in the dog and help the handler to learn to trust their dog. Eventually, over time, dogs are doing interior, exterior and vehicle searches. Dogs will eventually be able to search for three specific odors (birch, anise, clove). Practice in this class will help prepare the dog/handler team for the Odor Recognition Test (ORT) and Nose Work Competition through the National Association of Canine Scent Work.

Mondays
Ongoing
10:30 -11:45 AM
Instr: Darcy
Mondays
Ongoing
12:15 - 1:30 PM
Instr: Darcy
Mondays
Ongoing - DROP IN!
Begins Feb. 8
7:30 - 8:45 PM
Instr: Ivy
Loc: Atascadero
Specialty Pet
Supply
Tuesdays
Ongoing
11:00 - 12:15 PM
Instr: Darcy
Tuesdays
Ongoing
1:00 - 2:15 PM
Instr: Darcy
Tuesdays
Ongoing
6:30 - 7:45 PM
Instr: Darcy
(CLASS FULL)
Loc: Atascadero
Specialty Pet
Supply
Tuesdays
Ongoing
7:00 - 8:15 PM
Instr: Teah/Ivy
Wednesdays
Ongoing
11:00 - 12:15 PM
Instr: Ivy
Wednesdays
Ongoing
(CLASS FULL)
7:00 - 8:15 PM
Instr: Darcy
Thursdays
Ongoing
9:30 - 10:45 AM
Instr: Betty
Saturdays
Ongoing
9:00 - 10:15 AM
***CLASS FULL***
Instr: Teah
Saturdays
Ongoing
1:00 - 2:15 PM
Instr: Darcy
Tuesdays
Jan 24 - Feb 28
8:00 - 9:00 PM
Instr: Darcy
Loc: Atascadero
Specialty Pet
Supply
Class Cost:$145
Class Location:All classes are held at Gentle Touch Pet Training's training center located at 1886 Deer Canyon Road, Arroyo Grande, CA.
Click for directions.
Vaccines:Dogs must be current on parvo, distemper (or have protective titers) and rabies shots.
Registration:Class size is limited to 8 dogs to ensure personal attention.  Full payment is necessary to reserve class space. 

Click on the preferred date above to register. You may also click HERE to view our full schedule of classes.