Nose Work Frequently Asked Questions

The following Frequently Asked Questions were composed by Jennifer Wytmens, Training Assistant at Gentle Touch Pet Training.

Do you want to know more about Nose Work?

You could go here: These people invented the sport. You could think of it like this: as rodeo is to ranch work, nose work is to scent detection. You’re not going to go out and do search and rescue and bust a drug kingpin, but you’ll be able to show off some pretty neat skills that your dog has and you refined. Plus you could win a ribbon or two and get a title to put after your dog’s name.

What kind of dog do I need?

Your dog! Any dog can do this. You don’t need a scent hound. You don’t need a young, agile dog. You don’t need a well-trained dog. You don’t even need a dog who can be in the presence of other dogs. Roscoe the senior dog with a major back injury loves this game! Bella the herding sightmutt, who doesn’t like very many other dogs, excels at this game!

What do I need to know?

Nothing! No clickers required. No previous dog-training experience necessary. No understanding of scent detection or anything like that. This is FUN nose work, not K9 police nosework. The instructor shows you how to hide the scent, you hold the leash, your dog does the work he was born to do.

Why would I want to do it?

Because it’s FUN!! You got your dog to have fun with him, right?

But what do I get out of it?

You mean apart from a lot of fun with your dog? I can’t guarantee anything, but I’d be willing to bet you get a calmer more confident dog out of it. I did after just a few weeks. So what, you say? A calmer, more confident dog is a relaxed, less reactive dog. I’d also be willing to bet you alleviate some of your dog’s boredom with it. So what, you say? A bored dog is an annoying dog – barking, digging, scratching, destroying. A content dog is a good dog.

Bella and I just completed a 6-week intro course, at the end of which she was able to find a tiny tin of birch scent in a box hidden among a bunch of other boxes. You will be successful.

As much as I love agility, it was a lot of work laying the foundation to get to where Roscoe and I are. And we still have more work to do. And now we’re sidelined with an injury. And Bella is still a ways away from being able to be around working dogs, let alone work in their presence. With fun nosework, you’re successful right from the start. From there, it’s just refining the skills your dog already has.

Homework is easy and fast and fun. I split up dinner into 4-5 portions and have them search for it. They find their meals hanging in the orange tree, stuffed into a cinder block, behind the lawnmower, anywhere I can think of! And their tails are wagging constantly.

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