Watch our Class page for upcoming offerings!

In just a few days we will be starting our Scent Games classes. The sign up has ended and we are completely full for this session. Did you miss your chance to sign up? Don’t worry we’ll definitely be putting together more classes soon so keep an eye on our class page as details become available.

We are currently working on the next class series, a vehicles specialty nose work class. As soon as the details are finalized we’ll post a class announcement!

Don’t forget, I am also available to work one-on-one with your family and pet. Have a specific question or need? Use our contact form to send me some detail and we’ll set up a time to talk further!

Subscribe to the Kudos for Canines blog and you’ll stay “in the know” about all of our upcoming classes, handy tips and great advice! 

Why I like Canine Nose Work (a Husband’s Perspective) – Part 3

dog in boxGetting started in Nose Work is not an expensive endeavor. Get a cardboard box.  That’s right, just one.  Put a treat (or, a toy, if your dog is that kind of dog, or if you are that kind of trainer) in it, while your dog is watching.  Put it on the floor, and let your dog go and get it.  Repeat.  Move the box a little farther away.  Repeat.  Add another box, with no cookie / toy / whatever.  Repeat.  Add another one.

Aaaaaaaand, you’re off!  Think up a cue word.  Really difficult stuff, this…

Your little beastie will pick up on discriminating a “hot” box (one with the scent), from a “cold” one (has no scent, or has a “distractor” scent, at higher levels of competition) , in no time at all – they are hunting, so this is hard-wired.

If you are not a competitor, yourself, you are actually in luck – it can be harder for people who are involved in other dog-sports to learn to “back off, and shut up”, and let their dog “do its thing” (having said this, you don’t want to “back off” TOO far, and you shouldn’t refrain from opening your mouth, if success in the iteration depends on it!).

In other dog-sports, you want your dog “checking back in with you” – the “partnership” is more heavily weighted towards the handler.  In Nose Work, the dog is in the driver’s seat, for the most part – the partnership is more heavily weighted towards the dog, and what it is doing, all by itself.

This is not one of those times where you are looking for that doe-eyed look of adoration, from your dog – you want your dog to be in full-blown Airborne Ranger mode, looking for the small woodland being, to gobble it down like the Wolf out of Little Red Riding Hood.

Well, OK, maybe that’s just me…

The point I am trying to make, here, is that your dog likes to hunt – you may have noticed that your dog “likes” to run agility (because your dog probably really DOES like to run, and maybe it likes to jump around, too), or that it “likes” to go into the obedience / rally ring (because it has been paid to do so, in one way, or another).

All dogs like to hunt – they don’t have to be “taught” that it is rewarding, they don’t have to be encouraged to use that huge apparatus at the end of their face (what we refer to as a “nose”).  This is something they are hard-wired to do, and they only need the least amount of guidance, from us, in order to be able to play this particular game, and to succeed at it, and to really, really enjoy it.

You may end up finding yourself  sitting back and watching an otherwise “spooked out” dog come right out of his / her little “shell”, when they are given the opportunity to go out and just BE A DOG.  I have seen it happen, and if you spend only a little time with this sport, I’d be shocked if you don’t see it happen, too (it might not be your dog, — or, maybe it will be?).

It’s a beautiful thing.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  See it happen, once, and then tell me that you’re not interested in letting your dog have a try at it.

If you do, however, I might just have the Men in White on my speed-dial, and you might have some ‘splaining to do…

Why I like Canine Nose Work (a Husband’s Perspective) – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part series. If you need to catch up you can go back to post 1 here! 

Nose Work is not full of artificial rules, like “your dog must be on this side, or the other”, or “your dog’s feet must be within the colored zone”, or “you can’t be closer than / farther away than this line I just chalked out on the floor”.  There aren’t any strangers who are going to fondle the dog, or any requirements that “you must sit, here”, or “you must stand in this way”.  In Nose Work, your dog’s only job is to hunt.

OK, so there are some artificial aspects to it:

  • How many dogs would naturally choose to “hunt” the scent of Birch oil (or, explosives, or gunpowder, or narcotics, or dead folks, or whatever)? Not too many.
  • No one has to “hunt” a hot dog, either – so, one could argue that this is “artificial”, and I couldn’t really deny that.

There is something else, too – the dog I primarily “run”, Penny, is a killer.  She has taken down squirrels and rabbits, in the back yard.  Her “hunting” mechanic, in the case of live prey, is to charge in at about seven meters per second, snatch the prey by the neck, and break that neck – then, she goes into “prance around the yard / take the victory lap” mode.  She does not do this, when playing Nose Work.

What happens in Nose Work approximates, very closely, what Penny does when she is “crittering” – when she smells a critter under the shed, for instance, and is looking for the avenue of approach that will lead her to the kill.  So, although I acknowledge that there may be some artificial aspects to “the game”, Penny is doing what comes naturally to her.  She is a predator. She is predating. My presence is sort of incidental, aside from helping Penny realize what game we are playing – she does know that I am the Cookie Monkey, that when she has successfully located the scent, I will do the Monkey Chatter thing (called, “Alert”, which she doesn’t really understand), and then I will reward her at the source location, with treats of some kind (for us, it’s almost always beef hot dogs).

What is it, about Nose Work, that pulled me off the spectators’ bench, and has me heading towards the competition ring, when no other doggy-related sport has ever done that, in the past?

A huge part of it is the fact that I don’t feel like I’m asking my dog to do anything that is absolutely goofy, in my mind.  I don’t care about having my dog prance around on a “dog walk”, or whether he or she can rocket through a tunnel, or jump over a very specific sequence of jumps – I admit that the training behind these tasks is formidable, and I see the benefits of building that degree of trust and teamwork between the species involved, but I just don’t care about doing it, myself.  I think it is goofy.  That’s about all there is, to it.

I DO realize that I am being short-sighted, in saying this – I know that all of this “artificial” dog-sport training will make a dog far more confident, “in the field”, when confronted with weird obstacles presenting themselves along the scent path (fences, culverts, debris, etc.).  I also recognize that the other dog-sports help the dog develop those “problem solving skills” that they lost, way back when, when dogs became “domesticated”.  A host of foundational training skills (like, the ability to cue a “drop”, or a “stay / wait”, or a “recall”) can be real life-saving talents, if you are operating in an otherwise unsafe environment.   If you ARE working with explosives, you’d BETTER have a very reliable “Leave It”, for example.

I am extremely fortunate – this aversion to participating, directly, in these other sports has been reinforced, because my spouse is training all the talents that I might see as “extraneous”, or “secondary”.  I get the best of all the available worlds, and all I have to do is be the Cookie Monkey.  This is totally unfair, and I realize it – still, it might be the payoff for all those years of being the “Kennel Biscuit”…?

Part 3 in this series will be published tomorrow! Subscribe to our blog now if you’d like to receive updates directly to your inbox! 

Why I like Canine Nose Work (a Husband’s Perspective) Part 1

“Army language” has been replaced with gentle euphemisms

Penny nose work

My wife is a competitor in a number of different venues (that means, “she plays a lot of different dog-sports”, for those of you on the outside of the industry/mania). Like many a husband out there, I have been a “dog-sport widow” – left, alone, for however long it takes, while my Missus has been out of town (or, out of State), pursuing the little ribbons that represent successes or titles in the various games out there. I have been “the Kennel Biscuit” (yes, this is one of the euphemisms – you folks “in the know” can figure out what I’m talking about, here), on many occasions, in order to avoid the “widow” status – like many other husbands, who want to support the hobby.

I have attended, and helped with the logistics for, many different kinds of competition:  agility, obedience / rally, tracking, and herding training iterations and trials (most of the sports having three or four “alphabet soup” organizations proctoring courses, and dog-competing hobbyists always play in 50 to 7,000 different organizational endeavors)…

Our household is a dog-nut’s paradise – in the basement, we have a grooming tub, a grooming table, and a “hide the body” freezer stuffed full of dog foods and treats. In the back yard, we have agility equipment of various types, and we have more, in the basement, including replacement parts.  My wife owns a micro-business that is dedicated to dog training – I create dog-training templates, and edit them in accordance with client wants and needs. Dog Training Fever has burned through this place, leaving an indelible mark – but, I have never been the one going into the ring, come competition time.

I have been the Logistics Monkey, the Camera Monkey, the “Take the Critters Out to Potty” Monkey, and the Monkey-Who-Holds-the-Competitor-if-She-Cries (and, I have been the Monkey who says, “that Biscuit!”, at the appropriate time, when no one else “could” say it, or when it was what my wife wanted to hear me say).

…and, then, along came Nose Work

Watch for the next 2 posts we will publish this week continuing Peter’s thoughts on Canine Nose Work! Subscribe to our blog to receive the newest posts right to your inbox! Thanks for reading!