News for the New Year!

The holidays are approaching and 2017 will be here before we know it. Are you making plans for 2017? We are!

This Winter we are excited to be offering several more classes in our popular K9 Nose Work series!

Hop on over to our K9 Nose Work Class page to get the details and register for the classes starting in January!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

October class schedule and ORT pics!

20160924_130620Hard to believe we’re almost into October! Our fall classes that start in the middle and late parts of October are now open for registration. Check out the updates to our website and the class registration page. We’re hoping the new format will help you find the specific classes that are best for your team with a little more ease!

Also, hop over to check out some of the photos from our ORT event that was held in Bloomington on September 24th. It was a fantastic event and thrilling to see so many Kudos teams testing and passing that day! We’ll continue to bring great events like these to the area as we’re able, if you have a specific event you’d like to see, feel welcome to send us a note to let us know via our contact page!

Gearing up for a busy Fall!

trick-672629_1920This last few months has been a whirlwind of time spent training, learning and teaching. Now, we’re staring right at our full lineup of Fall classes and they’ll be here before we know it!

Check out our Class Line up and get registered for one of our August sessions: Continuing K9 Nose Work (8/14), Competition K9 Nose Work ROAD TRIP (8/4), Competition K9 Nose Work (8/14) and Competition Containers in K9 Nose Work (8/14). These classes run for 6 weeks and cost $110. Please make special note of the registration deadlines for each of these classes! 

Attention ORT event participants! We’ve just added an ORT Refresher Course designed to help your team prepare for testing at our event on September 24th. This class is a mini format, running for 3 weeks at a cost of $60!

Registrations for the ORT testing event are filling up quickly but we will continue to accept registrations online and snail mail until 90 spots are filled or on September 9th at noon (whichever comes first)!

All classes will be held at Positive Training (with the exception of ROAD TRIP classes) located at 1103 Martin Luther King Dr, Bloomington, Illinois.

As always, if you have any questions about our class line ups, now, or in the future, please contact us!

Equipment as Cues

In Nose Work ( the only equipment that you are not allowed to use during a search is aversion based equipment (i.e. shock/prong/choke collars). This means that there is a whole HOST of equipment that you ARE allowed to use.  In furtherance of this understanding, it also means that you can dedicate one or more pieces of equipment that your dog will wear while they doing Nose Work and only wear while they are doing nose work.  My choice is a specific type of harness, unlike their walking, tracking or agility harness.

Why do I choose a specific piece of equipment for the dog to wear while doing searches?

Well, here’s my theory.  Anything we can do create a clearer picture for the dog (specific to the task we are about to assign it) will help with the outcome.  We, and our dogs, are creatures of habit and ritual.

Here’s an example: At what point in the morning does your dog know that you are leaving?  Is it when you shower, put your shoes on or grab your keys?  Your dog knows that you are leaving because of a complex set of cues (rituals) that are provided in the environment.

Let’s look at the Nose Work ritual:

  1. Dog in crate travels to location
  1. Human has treats on person
  1. Human puts task specific equipment on dog
  1. Human takes dog to specific location
  1. Dog sees familiar boxes in location (practice boxes are available for use prior to running your dog)
  1. Human presents verbal/visual cue

If we have strong rituals, then it stands to reason that our dogs will be more proficient in their understanding when we generalize the environment more and more.  Nose Work is ALL about generalization.  If you do not take time to first build a VERY strong foundation and then take this training on the road, your dog will not be successful.  When you’re on the road generalizing the behavior you have very little control over your environment.  The only thing that you have control over IS your rituals.

Are these rituals necessary for every dog?

In one word: No.  I am reasonably confident that my dogs will do the search (at this stage of their training, with a VERY thorough foundation) without the rituals, but when I’m on the road these rituals will help the search behavior be more robust.  It will shore up weaknesses that occur and help the dog (and myself!) when a curve ball is thrown our way.

Cueing for Nose Work


My husband and I recently had a discussion on cueing for Nose Work (check out NACSW for more information).

The setup:
Copper’s cue is “Nose Work”, at which point he flies into the pile/area and starts searching.  If it’s an exterior he may be a bit more tentative, but on containers, interiors and vehicles he seems to understand it pretty well.  Copper arrives on the scene motivated, more often than not with a tight leash, raring to go and cross the start line. The cue “Nose Work” sparks an instant release from a stationary stand behavior.

Penny’s cue is “Go”…Or is it?

If I stand still and say “Go” or “Penny Go” she may or may not leave my side.  If I say either of those words AND move forward she will proceed to work the pile.  When Penny normally arrives at the start line she’s pretty sedate, intent and curious, but controlled.

What is her “Go to work” cue?  Is it the verbal, the visual or the combination of both?  If it is the combination, should we be working towards something similar to Copper’s behavior where the cue sparks an instance release from the stand stay?  They are different dogs, with different work ethics and styles. Is it wrong to expect her to move forward, out, away from me with the verbal cue alone?

I find myself thinking about a discussion I had with my mentor on what the cue for “Heel” was.  Is it the verbal cue that spurs forward motion? Is it the physical cue of me taking off with my left foot, specifically? Or could it be the use of a specific hand gesture? Could it be a combination of these? Should we be working towards independence of one from the other?

Yes, I realize, I have a lot of questions. But, I ask these questions to make us think and consider how clear or unclear our cues may be to our dogs. Nose work requires a dog to work independently of the handler. Truly, the handler is just the ‘dope at the end of the rope.’ Therefore, a dog must be ready to think independently at the very moment the cue is uttered. It should not depend on my forward motion for the dog to realize that the game is afoot.

I’d love your feedback, thoughts and ideas to add to the discussion.

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!

Doggone Safe Bite Prevention Program Now Available

Doggone Safe member logo 2015PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release

Normal, IL, February 8, 2015 – Doggone Safe is a non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention through education, and dog bite victim support. Doggone Safe member [Your Name] is making the “Be a Tree” educational programs available in [your area]. The “Be a Tree” program is an innovative and interactive dog bite prevention education program aimed at primary grade children. Half of all children are bitten by a dog by the time they are 12 years old. Dog bites are considered to be a serious public health problem by the American Veterinary Medical Association and by the Canada Safety Council. Most bites are by the family dog or other dog known to the child and can be prevented through education. Both children and adults can benefit from understanding dog body language and knowing how to act in situations involving dogs.

The “Be a Tree” program is available in communities across Canada and the US and is delivered by Doggone Safe presenters, veterinary technicians, dog trainers, dog behaviorists, public health nurses, emergency medical services personnel, animal control officers, police officers, teachers and humane educators. Presenters use a teacher kit produced by the company Doggone Crazy! which contains large format photographs showing dog body language signs. The script is written on the back of each photograph for convenient reference. The kit also contains games and activities and can be supplemented with learning materials such as coloring books, paint sheets, a story book, poster, stickers, bookmarks and fridge magnets. These materials can be branded with a sponsor’s logo to allow local companies to become involved with community dog bite prevention.

“The Be A Tree program is fun and terrific. The kids and teachers loved it”, said Jennifer Shryock – Dog Bite Prevention Educator and Dog Behavior Specialist – Family Paws – North Carolina.

“I believe your program [Be a Tree] is the best dog bite prevention program available”, said Sherri Utter – Retired Elementary School Teacher, Animatch Volunteer – Quebec.

Children learn to read dog body language and how to act safely around dogs by looking at large format photographs and by playing interactive games. The Be a Tree program is unique in its use of several different teaching strategies, its focus on physical activity and its emphasis on positive messages. Instead of telling children “don’t do this and don’t do that”, the Be a Tree program empowers them with the knowledge they need to make safe decisions based on the body language and the actions of the dog and the situation at hand. The central message of the program is “Be a Tree” (stand still and quiet and don’t look at the dog) if a strange dog approaches or any dog is causing concern or becoming too frisky.

“Experts agree that public education has an important role to play in reducing dog bite risk to children, and the Be a Tree program is one of the ways Doggone Safe is contributing”, said Joan Orr, president of Doggone Safe.

Doggone Safe is well regarded in the humane education community and all materials were created and reviewed by experts. The Be a Tree program is endorsed by The Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) and Doggone Safe bite prevention educational materials are used in the programs of many humane societies and by dog bite prevention educators across the US and Canada.

The Be a Tree program is available in Bloomington/Normal through Lisa Paul of Kudos for Canines. Lisa is an expert in dog training and offers group and private dog training and consulting services as well as the Doggone Safe education programs. For additional information about Doggone Safe or to get information about becoming a Be a Tree program sponsor please visit the Doggone Safe website at, call 1-877-350-3232 or email

About Doggone Safe
Doggone Safe is a non-profit corporation registered in Canada and Ontario, with offices in Canada and the US. Doggone Safe’s mandate includes dog bite prevention through education and dog bite victim support. Educational seminar programs offered by Doggone Safe are Be a Tree™ (for school-aged children), and Be Doggone Smart at Work™ (for workers who come into contact with dogs on the job)